10 February 2009

King Uzziah and women

by Dan Phillips

You don't remember Uzziah (c. 792-740 BC) having a problem with women?

Nor do I.

But he did have the same problem as some women.

Check 2 Chronicles 26:16-21 —
But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the LORD his God and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense. 17 But Azariah the priest went in after him, with eighty priests of the LORD who were men of valor, 18 and they withstood King Uzziah and said to him, "It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense. Go out of the sanctuary, for you have done wrong, and it will bring you no honor from the LORD God."

19 Then Uzziah was angry. Now he had a censer in his hand to burn incense, and when he became angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead in the presence of the priests in the house of the LORD, by the altar of incense. 20 And Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and behold, he was leprous in his forehead! And they rushed him out quickly, and he himself hurried to go out, because the LORD had struck him.

21 And King Uzziah was a leper to the day of his death, and being a leper lived in a separate house, for he was excluded from the house of the LORD. And Jotham his son was over the king's household, governing the people of the land.

Uzziah (aka "Azariah") had been a godly king. He had served the Lord faithfully in many ways. Before the excerpt above, we read that Uzziah "did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done" (2 Chronicles 26:4). Further, Uzziah "set himself to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God, and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him prosper" (v. 5). Precious few kings warranted such commendation.

Nonetheless, the text tells us that Uzziah was "unfaithful," that he knowingly committed treachery against the law of Yahweh. He did what he knew Yahweh had forbidden to him: he acted as a priest.

The motivation we're given is "pride." Uzziah was toppled by that force that has ruined both man and angel, both great and small: pride. Worse, by spiritual pride. No man is so pathetic and unaccomplished that he is a stranger to pride, and Uzziah was neither pathetic nor unaccomplished.

With pride finding a receptive ear for its whisperings, no doubt Uzziah convinced himself that his treachery wasn't really treachery. Perhaps he reasoned the same way Dathan, Abiram and On did in Numbers 16:

The whole congregation is holy
I am a member of the congregation

Therefore I am holy — and entitled to do anything I feel led to do!

Or perhaps Uzziah reasoned that there were "two horizons," doncha know, and Times Had Changed. Culture had changed. Moses was dealing with his situation, but Uzziah's was totally different. Moses had given the Law new and fresh, and delivered it to an ignorant and untaught people — but Uzziah was the beneficiary of much instruction and teaching. So how could he, Uzziah, deny the leading of the Holy Spirit, just because of an ancient text given in a different setting to a different audience under different circumstances?

Uzziah was a king, not a commoner! He was a worshiper of Yahweh, not a Baalist nor an Ashtorite! He had shown his love and ardor for Yahweh! No one could doubt that.

Surely King Uzziah had every bit as much right to burn incense on the altar as... well, as women have to be pastors in our day!

And indeed, he did. Every bit as much.

Uzziah was soundly rebuked by the godly priests. How did he respond? Not as a wise man would have done (Psalm 141:5; Proverbs 9:8b-9). Uzziah did not humble himself under God's mighty hand, acknowledge the word and righteousness of God, repent, kill his sin, and do what was right. Pride motivated him, so Uzziah's response was anger. How dare they cross his will? How dare they oppose him? And for this, Yahweh judged him severely.

Clothed in the finest of robes, treachery is still treachery.

One of the oddest features of our day is the equation of Biblical faithfulness with pride. Let a man stand with the Word, over against the fitful currents of culture, and he is damned as "proud."

The Word itself makes the opposite connection. It is the man (or woman) who wanders off from God's commandments, after his own fancies and notions, who is arrogant (Psalm 119:21, 85). By contrast, the genuinely humble person is the one who trembles at God's Word (Isaiah 66:2).

And the test is always found at the juncture where God's word, and our will, cross.

Postscript: note that the text does not wink at this act, though Yahwistic kings were relatively rare and wonderful in Israel's history. This is condemned as an act of sheer hubris, and as unfaithfulness. It led to Uzziah's destruction, his ruin.

"Ruin"? We might think that the text was suggesting that Yahweh struck him dead — but He did not. Instead, Yahweh struck Uzziah with leprosy. Uzziah was ruined as far as participating in temple worship was concerned. So far from leading worship, Uzziah was banned from worship. His rebellious act of pride led to a shameful mark that humiliated and disciplined him.

He was excommunicated, if you will.

Instructive, no?

Dan Phillips's signature


jeff said...

Excellent post. These scriptures reveal Gods' feelings towards the obedience of His commandments by His people. No one is above the need to obey God. Even a king. Scary stuff. Also the best argument I've ever heard against women pastors. But I must say too that it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between what God expected of His people at different times in the past and what He expects of us now. God bless.

FX Turk said...

So if we say, "God, we want to worship you our wayk, using our rules," God will say, "um, no. Instead you cannot worship me at all."


DJP said...

Yessir. There are areas where creativity is a good thing, and areas where it is outright rebellion. It's all in where God has drawn the lines.

Do I preach the Word with a stationary mike, wireless mike, handheld mike, or no mike at all? Doesn't matter.

Do I hold a dance or weave a yarn instead of preaching the Word? Rebellion and unbelief.

Further: God's action with Uzziah precludes anyone happening by with a question, and receiving the answer, "Oh, in his tradition, kings also serve as priests." Yeah, maybe. But not with God's smile.

To say the least.

Anonymous said...

I serve in a church where there are 2 women elders. I've not been asked to be an elder, although the pastor has asked me if I would or could be an elder if I were asked (he knows where I stand on women serving as elders).

I'm thinking 'no' but honestly, I'm not sure.

Dan, forgive my memory, but is it you who attend a Presbyterian church and serves there but has turned down eldership because of the baby baptism thing?
I mention that because it seems to me that your (?) situation and mine would be similar.
Happy to serve, not sure if I can serve in that capacity given my church's acceptance of women elders.

Excellent article by the way. As soon as I saw the title I knew where you were headed although I'd never seen the connection before.


James Joyce said...

And the test is always found at the juncture where God's word, and our will, cross.

Thanks for the post Dan.

I have a feeling that I am going to feel tested for the rest of the day now.

DJP said...

Hey, Daryl.

Yes, that's right: I'm in a PCA church, and have been told that I've been nominated as an elder every year I've been there. Don't want to appear more noble than I am; they would not accept me if I did try to "run" because of my being a baptist and a dispensationalist. But I knew that when I started attending.

However, to offer an opinion you didn't ask, I would not attend a church that had women pastors/elders (different words for same office).

CGrim said...

That is a decent argument, although I think the most persuasive argument against female pastors is the typological one: the relationship between men and women is symbolic of the relationship between Christ and the church.

To flip the gender roles is to symbolically flip the role of Christ and the church. Rather than follow Christ's lead, the church strikes out in some arbitrary direction and asks Christ to follow.

Of course, sadly, that is precisely what many modern churches have done.

Obviously, this is not to say that men are more "Christlike" than women, only that by the grace and mercy of God, and not of anything in themselves, He has selected them to imitate Christ's authority in ecclesiastical settings.

DJP said...

Thanks for the kind remarks.

To be clear: my purpose was not to make the case against the specific contradiction in terms that is "Christian/woman/pastor." It was to expose the kind of thinking that extracts a principle or two, casts off the whole Word, and free-associates.

I approached this same point from a very different angle here. (I think there was another, but can't put my finger on it.)

Unknown said...

Following this line of thought...

There are men who are in the pulpit for the wrong reason too - they have not been "called" to pastor, yet out of pride and out of a desire to "be in front" assume the role of pastor...

Won't they face the same reply of God?

DJP said...

Well, Buffguy, in totally unrelated news, yes.

However, there are men who can be pastors within God's revealed will, as there were Israelites who could serve as priests within God's revealed will.

However, no women serve as Christian pastors within God's revealed will, as no kings served as priests within God's revealed will.

Not of This World said...

sorry about my ignorance, i am just curious as to which part of the bible is there a mention about there shouldn't be female elders and pastors? i remembered it somewhere in the NT though.... just hope to have a reference....

DJP said...

1 Timothy 2:11-15.

chopstickschan said...

Dan, you've really got to come over here to Iceland; bring both your articles on homosexuality and this one. You'd be a pyromaniac as never before... The Lutheran church here permits and encourages women priests (pictures of them are always now in the children's books), and allows individual priests to decide on whether to bless homosexual unions in their church. The Lutheran Church is the state church over here. In fact, not long ago, they released a new translation of the Bible in Icelandic (the other one was very, very old), and they "updated" some passages, making them more gender-friendly and less condemning of homosexuality. This translation is now the only one available in Icelandic!

And as a Christian woman, I sure appreciate your straightforwardness on this issue, Dan. As they say in Iceland, Bless.

Not of This World said...

thanks DJP, much appreciated. However, just want to ask another question. God said that man should lead the family, church etc... However, there was a woman prophet whom God has chosen to lead Israel (Judges 4:4) because Israel was doing evil... So is it possible that God can choose a woman pastor or elder because the church had become so wicked that it become such a special case in order to bring them out of their wickedness or we shouldn't see it that way?

coxapaua said...

Dan, Thanks for another powerful and well written article. I never had any doubts about the fact that God's word proclaims that in the church a women should not have the place of authority over a man. However the connection with King Uzziah's pride was most inssightful.

DJP said...

No, it is not possible, since God the Holy Spirit Himself forbade it.

Find me a similar verse forbidding female prophets or civil leaders in Israel, and we may have a problem. A pastor is not a prophet nor a civil leader, and the church is not Israel.

DJP said...

(My last was to Not of This World)

Not of This World said...

:D thanks for the clarification....

Tyler said...

It's interesting that you bring up "A pastor is not a prophet nor a civil leader, and the church is not Israel", because that statement (especially the last part re: church/Israel) is dependent upon accepting dispensationalism. Given that Covenant folk understand infant baptism to be the sign of the New Covenant as circumcision was the sign of the Old Covenant, has anyone ever run across a covenant argument for moderate continuity between the covenants as regards prophets/prophetesses and pastors?

Anonymous said...

At the considerable risk of running this thread further afield...

Tyler, I would suggest that that would be a non-started particularly as prophets and pastors are address in the NT as well as separate things.

What Dan's original post really militates against is the constant justicification of all sorts of things because "God told me" or "I felt led" or "I've been gifted, should I not use my gift" and the like.
Whether it be women pastors/elders or gay "Christians" or watering down the gospel to not offend the lost. Still, it's doing what God has forbidden because it seemed like a good idea at the time.

By the way Dan, thanks for the reply.

DJP said...

Well, Tyler, dispensationalism (or, as I call it, "reading the Bible"), or NCT also.

DJP said...

Well-put, Daryl.

Not of This World said...

Nice one Daryl.... There is too much of those i do it because was "led" or looks offensive in the current society.... when it was obviously against the bible principles....

DJP said...

When I was a student at Talbot, the Biola Bible club had me address the issue of women and ministry. I did — no ads, fanfare, anything.

Then they had a female "pastor" who'd attended Princeton. Lots of ads and fanfare that week. Her main arguments:

Look! In the Gospels! Women!


How could I disobey the Holy Spirit who gave me these gifts?

DJP said...

(On second thought, not sure if that's when I was still a student, or when I'd begun teaching.)

Anonymous said...

I just sent off an e-mail to one of our pastors inquiring as to the thinking in installing women elders...we'll see where that goes.

DJP said...

Linking to this post?

Anonymous said...

I hadn't thought of that (duh!!)...perhaps I will after I get his reply.

(My word verification...pacali, it sounds like something you must have eaten at one time or another)

DJP said...

If not I, then certainly Phil.

SolaMommy said...

Good post, Dan.

Aaron said...

1) The New Testament Church had both prophets and elders/bishops/pastors, and these were different offices, so the fact that both Israel and the early Church had prophetesses as a matter of course says nothing about other offices.

2) Deborah was exceptional for being a woman with civil authority, not for being a prophetess.

3) Moderns might draw feminist conclusions from the existence of prophetesses, but the people who actually knew them (and followed the word of the Lord delivered through them) didn't.

Stefan Ewing said...

Regarding the illustration, Rembrandt seems to have painted a lot of paintings on biblical themes, what with being in the Protestant Netherlands and all....

Bill said...

1 Timothy 2:11-15:
Put that scripture into context for me then - it says that women can't teach AND it says that they are saved through childbearing.

DJP said...


Bill said...

women aren't saved through childbearing itself. Women are saved through profession of faith.

Strong Tower said...

Beings that we don't see many people being made leprous these days, then we need to more closely pay attention to what is and is not worship. Self-examination would beg us to understand just what cardio-examination tools are necessary for prognosis.

Then too, this subject touches upon Centuri0n's post concerning the proper role of the pastor and pewster, and just how those, if not performed properly, tend to the offering strange fire.

Would that we had more priests who were mighty men and would stand to prevent strange fire from being presented, eh?

The term child bearing connotes the raising of children and not just the birthing of them. So, in context, where the authoritative office of teacher is reserved for men in the context of the government of the church, under that umbrella is the authority for women to raise (teach) children. Further, we have the Scripture teaching us that it is proper for women to teach other women. So then, the passage is not speaking of salvation, but of how a woman might fulfill her calling as honoring God, i.e., working out her salvation with fear and trembling as we all must do.

DJP said...

...women aren't saved through childbearing itself. Women are saved through profession of faith.

...which bears on this discussion how?

Bill said...

Since women aren't saved through the act of childbirth, then the passage is speaking metaphorically and/or of a specific situation. Therefore, if it is a metaphor or is something else, then so is the line about women not being in authority. Perhaps it is talking about a specific situation. You refer to this passage as the reason that women shouldn't be pastors or elders. So, either I don't understand the passage or this passage doesn't apply in the larger context of women being pastors or elders.

donsands said...

"Let a man stand with the Word, over against the fitful currents of culture, and he is damned as "proud.""

And mean-spirited. And judgmental. And intolerant.

Good post. Shows how the kingdom of God is the same all through history, His-story.

Strong Tower said...

So, either I don't understand the passage or this passage doesn't apply in the larger context of women being pastors or elders.

The former.

Stefan Ewing said...

1 Timothy 2:15a says that she will be saved through childbearing.

The NIV says "they," but in the footnote, notes that the Greek is "she." The ESV uses "she."

Who is the "she"? The antecedent could be Eve in the preceding verse. As the representative of all womankind, all of womankind is redeemed through Eve, because her direct descendant (dozens of generations removed) gave birth to our Lord and Saviour. See Genesis 3:15.

DJP said...

Oh, Bill, that's just goofy. Because you don't understand v. 15, you don't have to respect the perfectly-clear (but un-trendy) vv. 11-14?

I don't know what "Parbar" means, either. Can I pick verses I don't like and disregard them, too?


Unknown said...

Terrific post; instructive and insightful. Hadn't seen that connection before, but you can be sure it's now part of the toolkit and will be shared with others.

FX Turk said...

DJP --

The next argument you're going to hear is, "there is no male or female in Christ."

You must have thought you were in for a slow day. This is a topic which will consume your month.

Chad V. said...


Dan's assertion that the church is not Israel is not an exclusively Dispensational view. Covenant theology doesn't teach that the church is under the same laws as Israel was under and that's the critical distinction.

While I also hold to Covenant Theology I agree with DJP and so does every credible Covenant Theologian when we say "church is not Israel" in so far as the laws that govern the church are not the laws that govern Israel. So Dan's statement is correct there. There are other distinctions between Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology and the relationship of Israel and the church that could be debated that have nothing to do with this post.

In Covenant theology a prophet is not a pastor as well, and a pastor is not a civil leader either. There is nothing about that statement that is dependent upon Dispensationalism.

In this context whether you are a Dispensationalist or Covenant, "the church is not Israel" is a totally accurate statement. Certainly Dan means something more than that in regards to other issues but that's what he's talking about here.

Chad V. said...

oops, last sentence should read, "that's not what he's talking about here.".

Strong Tower said...

"Having heard that consolation, they have no reason to complain that injury is done to them, or to take it in that they are excluded from one kind of honor; for they learn that, in the married state, they are not less acceptable to God, because they obey his calling. When he speaks of bearing children, he includes, under a single word, all the annoyances that must be endured in bringing up children; in the same manner as, under the government of the house, he includes all that belongs to household management." -Calvin's Commentary on 1 Tim 5:14.

The first occurance of the word for childbearing is in the context of the roles of women within the church. This one is in the context of the proper civilian roles of individuals under the sheparding of the church. Calvin extends the meaning of the word child bearing to include child raising.

Since this letter is addressed to what are the redeeming attributes of the right relationships which bring honor to God, we see a direct parallel between the likeness of the family of God and the families of men under God. The likeness of the man as head and a woman being in submission is a furtherance of the likeness of God's relationship to his creatures. Each has a role, according to its kind and a hierarchical as well as an egalitarian order. The vertical is never shared, while the horizontal relationships can be, or are often similar.

In relation to the sanctification which is according, not just to the doctrine but to the practice, we have been commanded to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. An interesting parallel, since it is the very relationship that Paul says women are to have to their husbands in Ephesians, or, that same relationship that we all should have to the ruling authorities.

What this means is as Paul instructed, that he reaches for the high calling in Christ according to the grace given him, that if by any means he might attain to salvation. Complementarianism required of Paul no less than he required of those he instructed, namely, that as each has been called, so they should exercise that faith. Within that calling he is exacting in reference to the propriety of station in life. His own was as an apostle called by Christ (brought forth for this very purpose) and he treated that as a sacred trust to be carried out to the letter. So too, he warns widows, idlers, men, women, married and unmarried to abide by those things which were written about them, into which they were begotten, and not to seek what is proper to another.

Paul's delineation of the roles of men and women within the church, within families and society would have no foundation nor purpose if it had not had been that by these things men know that His disciples are His. And that, not by seeking authority (who will be the greatest) or usurping another's (what about him), instead, by responding to the calling which no one takes upon themselves, that the world may see and understand what love means.

After all who asks whether to be a woman or a man? I won't go there ;) Does the clay say to the potter, waz up?

This is really the rub. Too many are saying, "Who is God that he should say go this far and no further? Who is God that he should command a certain kind of worship?"

Stefan Ewing said...

So now this comment thread has touched on both egalitarianism and eschatology. What remains...charismaticism ("I heard a word from the Lord")? Pragmaticism ("What's wrong with a king carrying out priestly duties")? People who don't like Dutch painters? (It is striking how much Uzziah looks like a 17th-century Dutch burgher.)

My verification word is "synin." That's what I struggle all day not to do!

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Wow. The timing of this post is very spooky. (Note: I contend vigorously against the aberrant teaching of egalitarianism on other blogs. Oftentimes, egalitarianism gets encapsulated into a discussion of WO (or women's ordination).)

I was thinking just right before I read this morning's post by DJP of a new way to respond to the egalitarian's argument about the giftedness of women and how it's misogynistic to deny women from displaying their gifts in the office of pastor/elder.

I was going to respond to the egalitarians by saying that in the Old Testament, the office of priest was restricted to only one of the twelve tribes (Levites, if I recall). Furthermore, one could just as well argue that the other 11 tribes had people who were just as "gifted" as the Levites in performing priestly duties.

But God did not choose based on the criteria of "giftedness." He chose Levites. "Giftedness" was not a relevant consideration. Ergo, obedience to God's Word is the relevant consideration.

That was going to be my rejoinder to the egalitarians and their aberrant teaching and practice. And then lo and behold! I read DJP's most excellent argument (saying what I would have said, but so much better), and I am thunderstruck by the deep similarity in reasoning!

I will now cite this post. Thank you very much Pastor Phillips.

Deb said...

Hmm. I agree that having women pastors is unbiblical and that when we exalt ourselves in pride, it typically results in either temporary or long lasting excommunication from the fellowship of believers.
It is clear from the text that Uzziah broke the law of God by taking it upon himself to fill the role of the priest.

However...(and I'm being a little risky here, but I don't have a husband at home to go asking this to...) are these two definitely linked by the text? I ask this because we are right now studying Hebrews and how Christ, our high priest, has instituted the priesthood of all believers - that we no longer require that the sacrifices and incense and ceremonial duties of the Aaronic priesthood be performed on our behalf.

I'm just asking, do you think that the reformation thought on the priesthood of all believers sort of disconnects these two ideas, rather than joining them together.
Again, I agree are both true, just that they may not go together, maybe?. Thanks.

DJP said...

That's right, Deb. Maybe you haven't read as far down as my 6:49 AM comment. I hope that helps.

I am not making a connection between OT priesthood per se and the pastorate.

I'm talking about abstracting a thought or principle or two, divorcing it from the rest of Scripture, and doing what we want in violation of an express word from God.

As Uzziah did, as "Christian" woman "pastors" do.

Dr. Paul W. Foltz said...

God hates pride of grace, face and race.

Kay said...

And it's only 51 comments long? Dan, you're slacking.

Marvellous post and a useful principle illustrated.

Oh, and I love 'Hey, look at the New Testament! Women!' So tired of hearing that one. I think there are a few donkeys in the NT, too. And?

Herding Grasshoppers said...

As we were doing our daily Bible reading after breakfast, I stopped to explain something to my boys (12, 10 and 7.)

When we finished, one of them flattered me by saying, "Mom, you would make a good preacher." Then quickly clarified, "But not at church. You know, to other women, I mean."

Even little kids get the principle.

DJP said...

Sure. They haven't gone to a major "evangelical" seminary and learned how to make things NOT mean what they clearly DO mean, yet.

Tom Austin said...

This story also reminds us of Uzzah, in 2SAM:6. He had good intentions too, not wanting the Ark of the Covenant to be dishonored by falling in the dirt. Didn't matter.

Marie said...

Dan, great post. I've never really grasped why Complementarianism is so hard for so many to swallow. Strong Tower - thanks for explaining that verse about the childbearing (and the great Calvin quote). That's always been a puzzler to me.

pentamom said...

Uzziah should have argued that God doesn't gift anyone in vain, so how does it make sense to forbid him the exercise of his gift of incense-burning? It does no one any good to reject the use of another's gifts and restrict a man to merely ruling the people in righteousness and widsom -- he should have been able to serve using ALL his gifts.

To hear some people talk today, God would have bought that argument.

Michelle said...

Uzziah got leprosy and he was excommunicated. How I long to see complementarianism vindicated so decisively in this day!

I have often wondered what consequences to their disobedience follow a woman "pastor" and her congregation. And where is the conviction of the Holy Spirit in the process of sanctification for these disobedient women?

DJP said...

Michelle, you'll be stunned to learn that I'm not particularly dainty-fingered about it.

Any female who calls herself a pastor has not submitted her sexuality to the Lordship of Christ, nor accepted His word as her law — and thus is not a fit guide.

To anyone.

Dr. Paul W. Foltz said...


Michelle said...

Couldn't agree more. No-one can refuse to submit to the Lordship of Christ in certain areas of their life and still call Him "Lord". We know that to believers He is Saviour and Lord. So the consequence is that they, and those they are "guiding", are in more of a precarious position than I first thought.

These women will deny that they are being disobedient or unsubmissive to His Lordship based on their interpretation of Scripture. I guess there is no such thing as inadvertent disobedience, it's called self-deception and it's based on pride. In this case aided and abetted by what seems like a majority of professing believers today.

Can I rightly conclude that egalitarianism is more than just a difference of opinion on the interpretation of scripture?

DJP said...

Full-out egalitarianism? Yes, to my mind, you certainly could say that.

Dr. Paul W. Foltz said...

The Bible says ''Lord and Saviour'' mot ''Saviour and lord''. Under Holy Spirit conviction the awakened sinner bows to Christ's Lordship, before he experiences His Saviourship.

Michelle said...

Dr F, thanks but my point was simply that to the true believer, He is to be both. I wasn't making a statement about which came first.

Rachael Starke said...

Given your recent excellent posts about what a terrifying responsibility it is to preach the Word and shepherd a flock, I think that women who claim to want this responsibility haven't a clue about what it truly entails before God.

Which disqualifies them all over again, cluelessness not exactly being a helpful quality in a shepherd.

Dr. Paul W. Foltz said...

unless one knows Him first as Lord, he cannot know him as Saviour see The lord jesus Christ-rom 10;9-10, etc.

God will never save one, who does want to follow Him.

Scott Shaffer said...

Dr Paul,

I assume you meant "who does not want to follow". But, that's a problem because "There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God (Rom. 3:11)."

Michelle said...

Rachael said: " ... women who claim to want this responsibility haven't a clue about what it really entails before God."

And women who claim to be CALLED to this responsibility must have even less of a clue! :)

Rachael also said: " ...cluelessness not exactly being a helpful quality in a shepherd."

Oh so true! Thank you for the chuckle!

Dr. Paul W. Foltz said...

''Thy people shall be made willing in the day of your power'' psalm 110;3. Under Holy Spirit conviction, the elect sinner is made willing to bow to Christ's lordship. He is given the faith and grace to receive Christ as Lord and Saviour.

Scott Shaffer said...

Dr Paul,

Now we're making sense!

Boerseuntjie said...

Awesome is THE Fear whom is YAHWEH!

May He infuze His people with that fear and dread that befalls a naturally sinful, proud and boastful people (Much like Israel and us, that we may repent trust and truly fear the consequences of our sinful intents and thoghts of our hearts.

May our preachers and Pastor/Elders through to the youths in our congregations fear Him who is able to destroy the body and to soul of unreoentant proud and boastful transgressors and sinners, that we may procliam His Oracles by His Word and His Scriptures Alone with such fear as become the children of the Most High and Almighty God.

Excellent point well made from Scripture!

Your by the Sola's Alone.

Not of This World said...

I find that a lot of people are using gifting too loosely... they either equate talent= gifting or even predisposition as gifting.... Many failed to see that talent isn't equal to gifting.... Gifting includes the basic premise of in accordance to the Word. If the Word forbade female pastor, how can they say they are gifted in that area, unless God's Word has change (it didn't)or her word is greater that God's Word (its not).

If talent is equal to gifting, then i guess (not targeted at salesman, but then i find that it is a good analogy) every good Christian salesman is gifted to be a missionary because they are so talented in persuading people. However, we know that is not true.

AND, people also too loosely used "God called" me to this and that area.... God did not call if it is not in accordance to His revealed Word....

Susan said...

I have a question: what about women in para-church organizations? (i.e., independent Bible studies part from a church.) Are they allowed to "teach" publicly to a mixed-gender crowd? Or does the same rule apply?

Not of This World said...

oh oh, and i have another question.... is there to be female missionaries? because after missionaries are able to bring people to Christ, then they have to feed them for a time until someone takes over their job, either from the church itself or elsewhere

Neil Cameron (One Salient Oversight) said...

Dan has linked the role of pastor to that of OT priest.

That's a bit silly.

I mean, I agree with the whole women bit, but Dan's exegesis is seriously bad here.

HERE is how you should interpret passages like this:

Priest = Christ
Prophet = Christ
King = Christ

As for the whole women in ministry thing, 1 Timothy 2 is enough for me. I don't have to rip passages out of context and eisegete them to prove something that is far clearer elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

OSO didn't read the post.

That's a bit silly.

I mean I agree with the whole prophet, preist and thing bit but OSO's exegesis is seriously bad here.

HERE's how you should interpret passages like this:

Uzziah - Someone overstepping their bounds

Some women (and men) - Someone overstepping their bounds

OSO - Overstepping his bounds

As for the whole eisegis thing, I know it's bad, I don't need someone ripping a post out of context to prove it.

Rick Frueh said...

That is what happens when we allow the politicians to be seen as spiritual mediators of God's will.

DJP said...

That's good of you to try to help OSO, Daryl. I should tell you, though: this is his pattern. I have seen him do it dozens of times, on a number of blogs. He invariably glances at a word or two, goes off half-cocked, has kind souls such as yourself try to help — but never returns to acknowledge or receive correction.

Then up he pops and does the exact same thing again.

There's a good deal of Proverbs 26:11, and no Proverbs 28:13.

But it's gracious of you to try. You enter into the labors of many.

REM said...

Great post, Dan. The meta has reminded me of, alongside scripture, some Chrysostom:
"When one is required to preside over the Church, and be entrusted with the care of so many souls, the whole female sex must retire before the magnitude of the task, and the majority of men also."

Eric said...


In my opinion your Chrysostom changes the discussion in a negative manner. Namely, to say that the "whole female sex must retire before the magnitude of the matter" goes to a question of ability, which is where the Christian ought not go with this conversation. Our focus ought always to be on God's assigned roles (a creation ordinance), not on ability. It is the opposition that wants to frame the question as a question of ability, for they then can argue that one's perceived ability automatically qualifies one for the job.

Also, as to Dan's original post that some women share the pride trait that was evidenced by Uzziah, let's not give a free pass to all of the male enablers who both abdicate any responsibility to lead and encourage Biblical gymnastics in the name of self-realization and egalitarianism.

Eric said...

Previous post should have read "your Chrysostom quote changes"...

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

(2nd time through, enjoying the thread).

DJP, your post and this comment of yours will win you many friends in the egalitarian community:

"However, no women serve as Christian pastors within God's revealed will, as no kings served as priests within God's revealed will."

Also, I affirm your comment:

"When I was a student at Talbot, the Biola Bible club had me address the issue of women and ministry. I did — no ads, fanfare, anything.

Then they had a female "pastor" who'd attended Princeton. Lots of ads and fanfare that week. Her main arguments:

Look! In the Gospels! Women!


How could I disobey the Holy Spirit who gave me these gifts?"

with my comment above about responding "to the egalitarian's argument about the giftedness of women and how it's misogynistic to deny women from displaying their gifts in the office of pastor/elder."

Hadassah said...

I have the same question as Susan. Anyone?

Stefan Ewing said...


Our pastors are preaching through 1 Timothy right now, and 1 Timothy 2:11-15 was covered a few weeks ago.

Offhand, I cannot remember this exactly, but the exegesis went something like this: "teach or exercise authority" (two separate things) in English is actually closer to "teach authoritatively" in the original Greek—i.e., teach from Scripture, with the authority of eldership, as a teaching elder (i.e., a pastor who is an elder).

This would seem to certainly not preclude women from (a) teaching exclusively other women (since Paul then goes on to write, "over a man"), and (b) may possibly allow women teaching mixed audiences in non-authoritative capacities; i.e., not as teaching elders.

I've probably muddled things up, because our senior pastor was very careful in how he exegeted this passage (and how our missions pastor explained it to me), hence there was a lot of attention to precise wording of the Greek text.

(It may also bear mentioning that the expression "Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness" was comparatively progressive for the time and location of Paul's original audience: it was men alone in Jewish culture who were to learn and study Scripture, and Christian men, too, should learn "quietly with all submissiveness [to the Word of God].")

You can see the sermon notes and link to audio/video here.

Stefan Ewing said...

When I wrote "teaching mixed audiences in non-authoritative capacities," I also meant "in non-authoritative situations," such as not before assemblies of whole church—i.e., not Sunday sermons, etc.

LeeC said...

The great comission is for all, but the answer I have heard before that makes the most sense is that just as there are women who serve in the local church, there is certainly a place for women in the mission field.

BUT insofar as women being in spiritual authority over men while there may be a case for a woman coming into an area sharing the Gospel to an area that has never heard it, as soon as there are saved spirit filled men there they should take on the yoke.

Now keep in mind there are a gajillion variables in that, but the essence is that God has proclaimed that the people in spiritual authority are to be Spirit filled men.

Mike Riccardi said...

For the view put forth by Stefan (no disrespect at all, brother) in response to having women lead mixed Bible studies, it seems that it'd be weird for women to be excluded from the office of an authoritative teacher but not the responsibility of an authoritative teacher.

Also, I'm no Greek scholar, but looking at the original text I think it shows pretty clearly that the ideas "teach" and "exercise authority over" are two separate ideas. This is shown (I believe, and am asking for correction here) by the use of both ouk (I do not) and oude (...neither to exercise authority over...). If they were as related as to mean "teach authoritatively," I don't think we'd have a "neither...nor" type thing that seems to be there.

That said, trying to force a distinction between teaching and having authority gets pretty hairy pretty fast. What happens if someone disagrees with the interpretation of a text put forth by the lady leader? When a text warrants strong exhortation for a particular group of people, is she exercising authority by presenting it to the consciences of God's people authoritatively, as it should be done?

It seems to me that even if we can't make hard-and-fast declarations (which people will disagree on whether we can or can't), the safer and smarter thing to do is to leave the mixed-company Bible study to the "Spirit-filled men" as Lee said.

I also like the way he put it, that such teaching and exercise of authority is a burden for the men, and not the ladies, to bear.

Stefan Ewing said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stefan Ewing said...

Brother Mike:

1. I should make clear that I was not referring to Bible study. This is understood as falling under the rubric of "teaching authoritatively"—which I forgot to mention earlier, one of the sources of authority for those teaching from Scripture (when called to the task according to biblical principles) being Scripture itself.

2. Regarding "teaching or having authority," I would have to go back, listen to the sermon, and review my notes. It may have had as much or more to do with reading that verse in light of what is written in the surrounding verses, than with the grammatical construction of that one verse.

I hope this makes sense....

Susan said...

Thank you, Stefan, Lee, and Mike. As a related issue I also thought of female professors at Christian colleges (even seminaries that accept women) and don't know if the 1 Tim 2:11-15 passage is applicable to it. (Is my thinking becoming too narrow?)

Susan said...

(Narrow, that is, for lack of better description on my part. Just thinking out loud....)

Gilbert said...

I hope this does and doesn't make sense:

I've heard of female elders/"pastors" who are far more "masculine" than their male counterparts in terms of conviction, studying the Word (except for oh, um, 1 Timothy et al),commanding respect, etc.

Strong Tower said...


But doesn't that five o'clock shadow kinda give it a surreal aura?


The passage is dealing with the church. If seminaries are a subset of a church, then yeah, I would suppose that the structure would need ot follow the complimentarian mold set forth in Scripture. But, many seminaries, such as those which are supported by the SBC are not part of an ecclesia or any kind, whether local or as part of a denominational structure. In that case where the seminaries are outside the governmental authority of the church, I would say they have the freedom to install professors and instructors as best suits their educational needs.

Stefan Ewing said...


Well, I did misremember the sermon to some degree. "Teach" and "exercise authority" were treated separately, as separate concepts. Here in a nutshell was the exegesis:

"Teach"—under what context? Looking at 1 Timothy as a whole, in 1:3, there is one true teaching or doctrine. There is one unified, authoritative body of Christian belief, which is called the Christian doctrine. In 3:2 and 5:17, it is the role of elders to provide this authoritative teaching. In 4:11, Timothy is told to teach with this authority, in fact with the authority of a command of God. In 1 Timothy, "teaching" is the authoritative Christian instruction given to the whole church. Paul is writing that he does not permit (writing as an apostle of Christ) women to give doctrinal teaching in the church.

"Exercise authority"—first, authentein simply means "exercise authority." It occurs nowhere else in Scripture, but H. Scott Baldwin's 1995 study of the use of the word in contemporaneous ancient Greek literature establishes that the word has no negative connotations (abuse or overreach one's authority, etc.). So what kind of authority is Paul referring to? The answer is that the only kind of authority ever given in 1 Timothy is that of an elder or overseer, who gives oversight and leadership over the whole body of believers. So Paul is writing that he does not permit women to exercise the authority of eldership.

Given this exegesis, verse 12 does not say that a woman can never teach a man, but it is a restrictive text stating that there is a certain context in which a woman cannot teach a man.

Now (writing as myself, not referencing the sermon), since what is not permitted is clear, but where the boundary lines are at the periphery is less clear, it falls upon us to discern where the boundary lines are, being careful not to transgress an apostolic injunction in the inspired, inerrant Word of God.

REM said...


I understand the origins and focus of this argument, but roles and abilities being disconnected islands is a hard sell. The circular opposition boohoos regardless of either one, so refrain from mirroring their responses. Although they become Egalitarian man of the year, ignore the caricature of manhood anyone could tear down in your last paragraph. Any example of biblical manhood creates an enabler for the true egalitarian.

Susan said...

Thank you, Strong Tower

Sue said...

A few things need to be noted here,

"Exercise authority"—first, authentein simply means "exercise authority."

I suggest that the BDAG meaning for this word be supplied,

BDAG, 3rd ed., 2000, has “to assume a stance of independent authority, give orders to, to dictate to.”

It occurs nowhere else in Scripture, but H. Scott Baldwin's 1995 study of the use of the word in contemporaneous ancient Greek literature establishes that the word has no negative connotations (abuse or overreach one's authority, etc.)

This word has extremely negative connotations. The study does not demonstrate otherwise.

The complementarian argument is simply this, that didaskein never has a negative connotation and authentein must have the same connotation as didaskein in this verse because of the way the two verbs are linked. The problem with this argument is that didaskein does have a negative connotation in Titus 1.

So what kind of authority is Paul referring to?

Interesting that Jerome translated this with dominari which was also used in Gen. 3:16 for the negative way that the husband would treat Eve. Dominari is also found in 1 Peter 5:3, once again something not to do.

The answer is that the only kind of authority ever given in 1 Timothy is that of an elder or overseer, who gives oversight and leadership over the whole body of believers. So Paul is writing that he does not permit women to exercise the authority of eldership.

It is difficult to get that message from the use of authentein in 1 Tim. 2:12.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Hi Sue,

How are you? I'll respectfully defer to Pastor Dan Phillips and his knowledge of Greek to engage your egalitarian arguments.


Sue said...


Its good to see you again.


DJP said...

Oh, really, it isn't rocket science. As if Christians had erred for milliennia, waiting for some sales-receipt under a rock in Egypt that will make 1 Timothy 2:12 not mean what it plainly does mean.

You don't have to be a Greek scholar. I don't understand the passage because I've been able to read it in Greek for 35+ years. I understand it because I can read, and because I'm not trying to twist it.

Paul doesn't say a woman may not teach or exercise authority over man in church badly. He says she may not do it at all. He does not urge that, instead, she do it wisely and soundly. He urges that she be silent, learn, and subordinate herself (v. 11).

It isn't rocket-science, and the church isn't waiting breathlessly for a new paper by some academic.

Sue said...

Oh, really, it isn't rocket science. As if Christians had erred for milliennia, waiting for some sales-receipt under a rock in Egypt that will make 1 Timothy 2:12 not mean what it plainly does mean.

Can you find any translation that includes the word "authority" or any word related to authority in it before Tyndale. And even then Tyndales version was rejected for "to usurp authority." It was only recently, the 70's that translations picked up on Tyndale's variant and inserted "to exercise authority" instead of "to usurp authority" or "to dominate."

That authentein means "to have authority" is just one more thing made popular in the 60's and 70's of the last century. Many items of complementarian exegesis date back to this fruitful era.

Mike Riccardi said...


Deal with the rest of Dan's response. This matter is so plain it's almost ridiculous.

If you're right, and women can teach men, just not badly, then why the warning to remain quiet?

And then, look at the grounding Paul gives for saying what he says: "For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression."

Would he need to ground his argument in creation if he were permitting women to teach, just not badly.

What's so ridiculous is that we don't do this to people when we're talking to them. A guy says, "Yeah, my kids aren't allowed to see PG-13 movies." Nobody then grabs his kids and takes them to a PG-13 movie. If we have that kind of respect for the words of men, can't we show that same kind of respect for the Word of God?

Suzanne McCarthy said...


You don't have to be a Greek scholar.

I think you do.

I don't understand the passage because I've been able to read it in Greek for 35+ years.

I have a few years on you, not that it helps much but perhaps a little.

I understand it because I can read, and because I'm not trying to twist it.

I was raised on the KJV. I can also read and I am not trying to twist scripture.

Paul doesn't say a woman may not teach or exercise authority over man in church badly. He says she may not do it at all.

Paul does not use the word authority or any word related to authority. He uses a word for dominating or mastering someone, or setting oneself up as an independent master. It is used for fraud and harsh treatment, for compelling someone to do something.

He does not urge that, instead, she do it wisely and soundly. He urges that she be silent, learn, and subordinate herself (v. 11).

Yes, all Christians are to submit to their leaders/teachers, and learn in quietness and live quiet lives.

It isn't rocket-science, and the church isn't waiting breathlessly for a new paper by some academic.

No, of course not. Jerome translated it with dominari, the same as in Gen. 3:16 and 1 Peter 5:3.


Would he need to ground his argument in creation if he were permitting women to teach, just not badly.

Yes, since authentein means to establish oneself as an independent authority, it is clear that a woman should not do this because although she is mother of man, she is created from man.

What's so ridiculous is that we don't do this to people when we're talking to them. A guy says, "Yeah, my kids aren't allowed to see PG-13 movies." Nobody then grabs his kids and takes them to a PG-13 movie. If we have that kind of respect for the words of men, can't we show that same kind of respect for the Word of God?

Are you saying that women who speak out do not respect the Word of God.

You should read Catherine Booth's paper on this topic. How did she express herself? Besides preaching she spoke to Parliament, all men, on the matter of the age of consent to that little girls would not be prostituted. Are you going to tell me that we can live without this kind of intervention on the part of women?


Stefan Ewing said...


Regardless of our respective inerpretations of the meaning of the word authentein (which seems to be what this boils down to), I think we can all agree that since the overall context of this letter is how Timothy should lead the church in Ephesus, this passage does not speak directly to interactions between women and men outside of church.

Sue said...

Catherine Booth developed her skill at public speaking as a preacher. This was the base of her ministry. Many women in the 19th century were committed to changing the condition of women. It is essential to have women in leadership in the church AND everywhere else.

This is why World Vision has such a strong statement on the equal participation of women in decision-making in the home, workplace and church.

The church prohibits the leadership of women at its own peril.

Michelle said...

Suzanne and Sue, we know what Scripture says about homosexuality, but how do you view it (for now at least)?

I have noticed that feminists/egalitarians in the church inevitably "progress" towards the endorsement of homosexuality because they've already moved away from gender role distinctions rooted in the natural created order.

I'd like to repeat a comment DJP made earlier in this thread in case anyone missed it:

"Any female who calls herself a pastor has not submitted her sexuality to the Lordship of Christ, nor accepted His word as her law — and thus is not a fit guide. To anyone."

James Scott Bell said...

Good, simple question: Why does Paul bring up the order of creation and deception?

Strong Tower said...

You're right Stefan, the passage has no application outside the church, but I would disagree that it has no negative connotation. What that means in this case is that, even proper attitude cannot displace the fact that a woman seeking or taking such a place of authority is defacto, negative.

And DJP is correct, one merely needs to read. In the preceding and following verses it has been established what the proper position for a woman should be concerning the government of the church. Then the use of the term is proper because Paul is making the point that a woman who seeks other than that station assigned to her would be seeking illegitmate authority as a teacher. In other words, as Paul is doing in linking the station to the creation order and then to the more restrictive lapsarian position (the woman was over stepping her position and the curse indicates she is bound now to continue in seeking to do so), it should go without saying that a woman seeking either to teach or exercise authority is doing violence to the order of the church. The unique usage of this term is justified and inclusive of all women who would "desire" what is proper to men alone.

Paul then follows up with the desire which is proper, that of a man, and not a woman, seeking oversight which he necessarily connects to teaching. All of the nouns concerning "the one" seeking the office are masculine and that also compliments the idea that if he is married, he is to rule over his wife, and she is to demonstrate a certain submitted character elucidated before and later by Paul.

The contrast is evident, that the improper role of women being sought by them would be to seek to do what Eve did to Adam, kill him and take his place. It at least demonstrates, in those who do so, their misunderstanding of the revelation of God, of their condition post lapse, and how proper order teaches correct doctrine, and by that misunderstanding disqualify themselves as teachers. So, in this case the word is proper, not in reference to the way she is seeking the office, but the fact that she is seeking the office at all; it is not her attitude toward the object, but the object itself which is being forbidden. This is in contrast to the word used for the man which is to stretch forth and take hold of high position, and is derived from a word that means going to the mountain top. In otherwords, this going to the mountain top is proper for him, while it is not for her (which in a way brings us back to the original post, for God forbade all but those he designated, to ascend). If it were proper for her, Paul would not have used exclusive language in the qualifications which followed. Which again goes to prove that women seeking such position have disqualified themselves because they do not comprehend sound doctrine in doing so.

Nice assertion Sue, but it has nothing to do with what is clearly taught concerning the church and is merely stating that pragmatism is your rule of faith and not sola Scriptura. You mention the public sphere, there are no preachers who hold authority over the public, and you mention a para-church ministry, which has no ecclesiatical authority, either within or without, for it is not a church. To do as you are, is not to prove essentials, but really surreptitiously undermines the revelation Scripture represents as truth. And beyond that, mentioning Booth serves to further undermine your credibility, for the Booth's organization offered itself as a Christian Church/Denomination which denied the necessity laid upon members in the body of Christ of Baptism and the Supper. As at least an abberant Christian organization, we might be better served to view her position on and of leadership, in the same light, that it was not orthodox and contrary to sound teaching.

Sue said...

I am puzzled. I have posted several comments that I thought I saw posted but have disappeared. I will see what happens to this.

Sue said...

I'll have to say good-bye. I lost several long comments, no doubt at this end. In any case, I have never known that Eve killed Adam or some other things mentioned. Fascinating.

Strong Tower said...

Well, Sue, it just goes to show ya, ya need to pay attention to who is feeding you what.

If my memory serves me, ahem, is correct the Scripture says:

Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it...,

And it says: of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.

And she knew it experientially and it says that after she took of its fruit and ate: she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

And it says:the woman was deceived and became a transgressor

That she both taught him and feed him is reflected in what Jesus said to false teachers: your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning

I think that "Eve killed Adam to supplant him" is a pretty fair assessment of it.

Sue said...

Strong Tower,

What is needed in your case is a whole separate church where women can be kept away from men entirely and won't be a danger to men.

Anyway, it is plain to see that the variation in interpretation within the complementarian spectrum is almost as great as across all positions. The only commonality is keeping women under authority. Seems like the Bible says that whoever seeks to be first shall be last, so I will leave well enough alone.

Liza said...

Bringing up Uzziah is an interesting tactic, but one that I think is misguided, not only from a male/female perspective, but because it's an Old Testament example.

The veil was torn by Christ. It no longer exists. The Temple and its ordinances have no bearing on a Christian.

If you want to make the argument for complentarianism....this has nothing to do with it.

Ditari said...

"If you want to make the argument for complentarianism....this has nothing to do with it."

In one sense, I agree; but I think you've missed the point of Dan's OP.

This thread has predictably gravitated towards debate about 1 Tim. 2, to which the story of Uzziah holds no direct relation. What it DOES bear on powerfully, though, is the whole panoply of modern arguments FOR the ordination of women priests/presbyters.

Such arguments include:

- the 'natural justice' argument
- the 'equal competence' argument
- the 'improved education' argument
- the 'evangelistic efficiency' argument
- the 'worldwise reputation' argument

I imagine that most readers understand immediately what I mean by each of these terms of my own devising.

Now: every one of these arguments could have reasonably been deployed in some measure by Uzziah in defense of his actions; yet we know from the chronicler that every one of them was invalid.

Therefore, this knowledge that they ARE invalid, blows a huge hole in them when used today, mutatis mutandis, to establish the lawfulness of ordaining women, and in some cases it obliterates them completely.

Everyone knows that in every single denomination where this proposal has been debated and voted in, the final grand debate lasting however many hours with umpteen speakers has always included each of these arguments in some form.

Imagine, then, if in each of these cases the governing committee of the relevant assembly had ordered a rerun of the decisive debate, ruling that all such arguments were impermissible on the strength of the precedent laid down in 2 Chronicles 26.

What would be left of the positive case for ordaining women?

So yes, as Liza says, this has nothing to do with the degree of soundness of the classic complementarian argument from 1 Tim. 2; but the question really is, in the absence of all the typical egalitarian arguments, would women's ordination have been voted in in even a single one of these more liberal denominations?

To me there is only one answer.