Men and Women in the Body of Messiah: Answering 50 Crucial Questions – Part 3










Continued from Part 2


reproduced from the forthcoming publication Men and Women in the Body of Messiah: Answering Crucial Questions

33. How is it consistent to forbid the eldership to women in our churches and then send them out as missionaries to do things forbidden at home?

From a logical standpoint, it would seem rather illogical, and indeed inconsistent, for complementarian Christians to widely oppose females occupying positions of leadership and teaching within a local assembly—yet at the same time, be rather supportive of sending out female missionaries. Females in a complementarian setting, are frequently barred from serving as co-deacons or co-elders along with males—and certainly from teaching a mixed congregational audience of men and women—but then would be permitted to conduct missionary evangelism, where both men and women might hear a teaching about the good news and the salvation available in Yeshua as spoken by a woman?! That is inconsistent, for sure.

For complementarians like Piper and Grudem, at least, it is witnessed that they are favorable to women serving in positions of missionary evangelism. For them, they mention how many females in this ministry field have been complementarian:

“It is a remarkable fact that the vast majority of the women who have become missionaries over the centuries also endorsed the responsibility of men in leadership the way we do. And the men who have most vigorously recruited and defended women for missions have done so not because they disagreed with our vision of manhood and womanhood but because they saw boundless work available in evangelism—some that women could do better than men.”[329]

Piper and Grudem make note of the prophesying daughters of Philip the evangelist (Acts 22:8-9), who were surely used by the Lord to bring many to saving faith. Yet, they also have to quickly invoke their view of 1 Timothy 2:12 (addressed previously), which to them is a universal prohibition excluding females from occupying positions of teaching and leadership.

To egalitarians for sure, but even to many complementarians, this does not fully add up. It is too easy to compartmentalize leaders and teachers on one side, and evangelists on another side—saying that only males can lead and teach, but that males and females can equally evangelize. After all, a proper communication of the good news—especially when issued to male and female adults—is unavoidably going to involve some form of teaching. Piper and Grudem probably realize this, as they are actually forced to state, “It is apparent to us that women are fellow workers in the gospel and should strive side by side with men (Phil. 4:3; Rom. 16:3, 12). For the sake of finishing the Great Commission in our day, we are willing to risk some less-than-ideal role assignments.”[330] They actually conclude that it might be necessary to permit some women to declare the good news, along with men, and teach, along with men, for the greater necessity of seeing people come to redemption.

Of course, for Piper and Grudem as complementarians, female missionaries sent out to evangelize, should mainly be sent out to evangelize unsaved females. And they do mention an uncomfortable statistic in how females and children in today’s world tend to be overlooked much more than males:

“We are not sending women to become the pastors or elders of churches…We do not think it is forbidden for women to tell the gospel story and win men and women to Christ…[T]he fact that over two-thirds of the world’s precious lost people are women and children means that there are more opportunities in evangelism and teaching than could ever be exhausted.”[331]

Egalitarians, because of their inclusive nature, do not want to see females and children glossed over in missionary evangelism. Would a female missionary be more suited for serving the spiritual needs these of unsaved demographics than a male missionary? That can only be determined by who makes themselves available for the Lord’s service (John 4:35-36). God uses whomever God wants to use, and whomever makes themselves available for God to use.


34. Do you deny women the right to use the gifts God has given them? Does not God’s giving a spiritual gift imply that he endorses its use for the edification of the church?

Complementarians and egalitarians alike, both recognize that God generously gives spiritual gifts to both men and women. In response to the inquiry that complementarians may be seen stifling the spiritual gifts granted by God to females, Piper and Grudem state, “We do not deny women the right to use the gifts God has given them. If they have gifts of teaching or administration or evangelism, God does want them to use those gifts, and he will honor the commitment to use them within the guidelines given in Scripture.”[332] Based on their reading of Scripture, as complementarians, they would interpret passages like 1 Timothy 2:12 (addressed previously), as supporting a universal prohibition of females serving as leaders and teachers, although they would still be supportive of females serving in many other capacities.

Many former complementarians find themselves reevaluating complementarian interpretations and approaches to prohibitive passages, precisely because they witness the Lord having blessed various females with significant gifts and talents—and who are far more capable and astute than many males. Many former complementarians become egalitarian, not because they have compromised the Holy Scriptures and become “liberal feminists.” Instead, persons such as myself adopted an egalitarian ideology because we witnessed not that God might use women but that God uses women, and it prompted us to reconsider, and even dismiss, some of the presuppositions that we had in approaching various texts in the Bible.


35. If God has genuinely called a woman to be a pastor, then how can you say she should not be one?

The complementarian position, as represented by Piper and Grudem, is that God will only call a male, and not a female, to serve in the office of pastor. In their words,

“We do not believe God genuinely calls women to be pastors. We say this not because we can read the private experience of anyone but because we believe private experience must always be assessed by the public criterion of God’s Word, the Bible. If the Bible teaches that God wills for men alone to bear the primary teaching and governing responsibilities of the pastorate, then by implication the Bible also teaches that God does not call women to be pastors.”[333]

Based on Piper and Grudem’s reading of various passages (i.e., 1 Corinthians 14:33-36; 1 Timothy 2:9-15), addressed previously in this analysis, females may not be considered for a position of pastoral leadership. Yet, the complementarian Christian world is hardly united on seeing females banned from all potential offices named “pastor.” In the 2005 Zondervan publication, Two Views on Women in Ministry, Craig L. Blomberg represents a minimalist complementarian perspective,[334] which would see many females occupying most offices or positions in the Body of Messiah, including that of pastor, with the major exception being that of “senior pastor.” Even in denominational or church settings where complementarian ideologies are held more strictly, it is not uncommon to see females given designations such as “women’s pastor” or “children’s pastor.”

Egalitarians agree with Piper and Grudem, in their appeal to Romans 10:15, “How will they preach unless they are sent?”, as well as Jeremiah 23:32, “I did not send them or command them, nor do they furnish this people the slightest benefit.” One has to be called into the service of God. For complementarians, though, a female cannot be called into a role of pastoral leadership, because they have read what are ultimately situation-specific instructions listed in 1 Timothy 2:9-15; 3:1-13; and Titus 1:5-9, as being universal for all times and settings—and they tend to ignore forthright examples of females in positions of leadership in the First Century ekklēsia (i.e., Acts 16:13-15, 40; 18:24-26; Romans 16:1-2, 7; Romans 16:3; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Philippians 4:2-3). While there are passages in the Apostolic Scriptures that appear to restrict women in positions of teaching or leadership, these must not be interpreted simplistically but in concert with other passages that do depict women in leadership—and this is what ideologically makes egalitarians much different from complementarians.


36. What is the meaning of authority when you talk about it in relation to the home and the church?

Hostilities erupt and communication breaks down, between complementarians and egalitarians, when egalitarians typically broad-brush complementarians, and complementarians can act as though egalitarians do not believe in any authority structures for the home or assembly. As Piper and Grudem summarize the basic authority structures of congregation and family, egalitarians are witnessed as finding areas of both agreement and disagreement with them:

“The church, while made up of a priesthood of believers, is governed in the New Testament by servant-leaders whom the people are called to follow (1 Thess. 5:12; Heb. 13:7, 17; 1 Tim. 3:5; 5:17). In marriage the wife is called to submit to the sacrificial headship of her husband (Eph. 5:22-33; Col. 3:18-19; 1 Pet. 3:1-7). Finally, the source of all this authority is God’s authority, which is absolute.”[335]

Egaltiarians would be in agreement with the first and third points made above. (3) God is the absolute, highest authority, which overrides all other human authority structures. (1) There are servant-leaders within the Body of Messiah, whom we are called to follow. Their presence in noted in relation to various First Century groups of Believers in the Apostolic Writings: “those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction” (1 Thessalonians 5:12); “Remember those who led you” (Hebrews 13:7); “Obey your leaders and submit to them” (Hebrews 13:17); “The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching” (1 Timothy 5:17).

The second point raised by Piper and Grudem is something that most egalitarians would take issue with on some level. Submission of a believing wife to a believing husband is to be expected (Ephesians 5:22-33; Colossians 3:18-19), but this is to be controlled by the overriding statement, “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21, ESV). Mutual submission also involves the submission of a believing husband to his believing wife, and their co-equal, joint leadership of a home together. Egalitarians, and many complementarians for that same matter, would be reluctant to invoke 1 Peter 3:1-7, given the presence of “if some do not obey the word” (1 Peter 1:1, ESV) as an indication that First Century circumstances involving the relationship of a believing wife to a non-believing husband are actually in view.

It is appreciable that Piper and Grudem, in speaking about authority, are keen to invoke Yeshua’s words in Matthew 20:25-26, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (ESV). Even though as complementarians Piper and Grudem believe in male leadership in the ekklēsia and family—and not co-equal leadership of both males and females—they do expel an effort to recognize how there has been, and continues to be, much abuse of men toward women in complementarian environments. In their words,

“The transformation of authority is most thorough in marriage…The Bible gives husbands no warrant to use physical power to bring wives into submission…The husband’s authority is a God-given burden to be carried in humility, not a natural right to flaunt with pride.”[336]

The challenge, of course, is that many complementarian congregations and families, are precisely not environments where the men are servant-leaders, but are instead autocrats. In the view of Piper and Grudem, “authority in general is the right, power, and responsibility to direct others,”[337] which egalitarians would agree with. Are there complementarian environments where the male leaders have genuine servant leadership, and there is a degree of comraderie? Egalitarians have been reluctant to admit that there surely are.

At the same time, complementarian families and congregations, can often be places where the concerns of wives, daughters, and even various sons and adult single men, are overlooked at best, dismissed at worst. Whether one believes in a complementarian or egalitarian model of marriage, husbands do need to be concerned with the situational circumstances and emotional well being of their wives and children. Whether one believes in a complementarian or egalitarian model of congregational governance, spiritual leaders and teachers have to be concerned with the needs of more people than just the married men in an assembly. Too many wives, unmarried women, younger women, younger men, and even unmarried men, can testify to how they do not feel that their spiritual needs or concerns even register with the leadership of their local assembly or congregation—not just because the leadership is made up entirely of married men, but because the other demographic groups are completely left out of the decision-making process. To say that egalitarian perspectives are at least intriguing to consider for such marginalized groups, would be an understatement.


37. If a church embraces a congregational form of governance in which the congregation, and not the elders, is the highest authority under Christ and Scripture, should the women be allowed to vote?

As complementarians, Piper and Grudem are actually seen to agree with the premise that should a congregation have an organizational structure, via which votes are conducted, that females should be permitted to vote along with males.[338] They make note of Acts 15:22, “Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with all the assembly…” (LITV). They also note the concept of the priesthood of all Believers (1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6; 5:10; cf. Matthew 18:17), and seemingly with this the fact that there are corporate decisions which have to be made by males and females equally within the assembly, as they all will be affected by various decisions made. Because corporate votes affecting a local congregation or fellowship are in view here, they conclude that it does not conflict with their view of 1 Timothy 2:12, which for them is a universal prohibition on females serving as leaders or teachers within the ekklēsia (addressed previously). In their words,

“When we say the congregation has authority, we do not mean that each man and each woman has that authority. Therefore, gender, as a part of individual personhood, is not significantly in view in corporate congregational decisions.”[339]

Experientially speaking, every Messianic congregation I have been a part of, has been complementarian, and has had an all-male leadership. There have never been mechanisms in place, whereby an entire host of decisions would be made by congregational vote. From time to time, though, the congregation has been consulted on major decisions to be made, such as the appointment of new leaders, or moving to a new building. I have also been a part of annual business meetings, where members of the congregation do get to approve the budget for the next year, and where male and female members get to pose questions to the leadership, although more on procedural than on spiritual issues.

It is appreciable to see that Piper and Grudem do not think that females voting on corporate congregational decisions is wrong. Messianic congregational leaders should take some pointers here, and seek to involve their wider assemblies in more of the decision-making.


38. In Romans 16:7, Paul wrote, “Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me.” Isn’t Junia a woman? And wasn’t she an apostle? And doesn’t that mean that Paul was willing to acknowledge that a woman held a very authoritative position over men in the early church?

The identity of the second person mentioned in Romans 16:7, has been an ongoing debate in Biblical Studies since the second-half of the Twentieth Century. In my final class at Asbury Theological Seminary, Exegesis of Romans (Fall 2008), I had to give an oral presentation on the demographics of Romans ch. 16, with much attention focused on how scholars have approached and applied the issues presented by Romans 16:7. In the 1952 Revised Standard Version, Romans 16:7 reads with, “Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners; they are men of note among the apostles, and they were in Christ before me.” In the 1989 New Revised Standard Version, a different reading appears: “Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.”

Egalitarians naturally take the identity of the second person as being a female, Iounia or Junia, who was an apostle. Complementarians are divided on whether the second person was a female, Iounia or Junia, or a male Iounias or Junias. In their resource 50 Crucial Questions, Piper and Grudem express some high level of doubt that the second person of Romans 16:7 could be the female Junia, but if this person was female, they definitely doubt that she should be regarded as an apostle.[340]

Of course, if indeed Romans 16:7 is First Century evidence of a female apostle serving within the Body of Messiah—as being an apostle would be regarded as serving in a higher office than that of a pastor or teacher—then instructions traditionally interpreted as being universal prohibitions on females leading or teaching (i.e., 1 Timothy 2:12), as well as instructions regarding elders and deacons (i.e., 1 Timothy 2:9-15; 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9), all of a sudden become situational to First Century circumstances. The legitimate presence of a female apostle would require a definite reevaluation, if not overhaul, of the presuppositions and beliefs of many regarding men and women in the post-resurrection era. If Junia were a First Century apostle, then we should naturally see more females in positions of leadership and teaching in the Body of Messiah today. It would be entirely unacceptable, for example, to see congregations and assemblies led exclusively by males, without any females in the leadership structure and decision making process.

I address some of the debates present in Romans 16:7, in my 2014 commentary Romans for the Practical Messianic:

As it appears in the RSV, Romans 16:7 reads as, “Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners; they are men of note among the apostles, and they were in Christ before me.” That these two figures were some sort of important ministry team, who were most probably Jewish (the NRSV calls them “relatives”; the TNIV and NLT have “my fellow Jews”), and with whom Paul had spent some time in prison, is fairly deducible. These two individuals had believed in Yeshua before Paul, and they are recognized to be episēmos, “of exceptional quality, splendid, prominent, outstanding” (BDAG).[341]

Over the past several decades, there has been considerable debate over the gender of the second person listed in Romans 16:7, with the pendulum definitely having swung away from what is listed in lexicons as Iounias being a male, “Junias,” with now a significant majority in Biblical Studies recognizing “the strong probability that a woman named Junia is meant” (BDAG).[342] As one traces Bible scholarship from the 1960s to the present, older scholars considered this figure to be Junias, a male:

  • “Grammatically it might be a feminine…though this seems inherently less probable, partly because the person is referred to as an apostle” (IDB).[343]
  • “The name may be masculine, ‘Junias,’ a contraction of Junianus, or feminine, ‘Junia’…In all probability this is the masculine” (ISBE).[344]

At first, the possibility that this individual may be a female is disregarded because it would mean that there is actually a female apostle in the Scriptures. The second quotation seems to moderate just a bit as there are no sexist editorial remarks. Bible scholarship over the past two to three decades stands in contrast to this:

  • “The only woman who is called an ‘apostle’ in the NT…Without exception the Church fathers in late antiquity identified Andronicus’ partner in Rom 16:7 as a woman…Only later medieval copyists of Rom 16:7 could not imagine a woman being an apostle and wrote the masculine name ‘Junias.’ This latter name did not exist in antiquity…” (ABD).[345]
  • “Probably the wife of Andronicus; member of a husband-wife team who, like Paul, were Jews…The only woman called ‘apostle’ in the NT, Junia may have accompanied Jesus’ ministry, had a vision of the risen Lord…Paul approved of her role, calling her ‘outstanding’ among apostles” (EDB).[346]

Major Bible versions today which employ the masculine “Junias” include the RSV, NASB/NASU, and the 1984 NIV. Versions produced over the past two decades or so will render Romans 16:7 with the female “Junia” (NRSV, ESV, HCSB, TNIV). Messianic versions like the CJB/CJSB and TLV rightly recognize this person as the female “Junia,” whereas The Messianic Writings has the male “Junias.”[347]

The bulk of Romans commentaries, spanning the past three to four decades, almost uniformly identify the second person of Romans 16:7 as a female. This includes the commentaries we have been consulting in this (2013-2014) Romans study (C.E.B. Cranfield,[348] F.F. Bruce,[349] James D.G. Dunn,[350] James R. Edwards,[351] John R.W. Stott,[352] Douglas J. Moo,[353] Grant R. Osborne,[354] Ben Witherington III,[355] Craig S. Keener,[356] Colin G. Kruse[357]). Each one of these examiners might have a slightly different view of the role that the figure of Junia might have played among the First Century Believers—and certainly have different views on women in leadership in the Body of Messiah—but they all agree that this person was a female. The significant majority of New Testament scholars accept the fact that Junia was a woman. Andronicus and Junia were most likely husband and wife, but they could have been brother and sister.

What makes the rendering Junias (male) or Junia (female) significant is how Paul says, eisin episēmoi en tois apostolois, and how Andronicus and Junia “are outstanding among the apostles” (NASU, NIV). Egalitarian interpreters, who believe in the ordination of female clergy today, certainly welcome the perspective of Junia as a female apostle and leader within the First Century ekklēsia.[358] Complementarian interpreters, who do not believe in the ordination of female clergy, will, perhaps a bit begrudgingly, have to still recognize that the second person listed in Romans 16:7 is a female. But, complementarian interpreters may contest what it means for Junia to be episēmos, with a version like the ESV having, “They are well known to the apostles” (contra NRSV: “prominent among the apostles”).[359] Such a perspective is represented by Thomas R. Schreiner:

“Some have said that the verse proves that Junia was an apostle, and thus women can fill any church office. The verse seems to be saying, however, that Andronicus and Junia were well known to the apostles, not that Junia was herself an apostle.”[360]

That there were apostles, other than the Original Twelve, is witnessed in the Messianic Scriptures (Acts 14:4, 14; 1 Corinthians 15:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:6). Paul himself was regarded as an apostle, and spoke in 2 Corinthians 8:23, “As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you; as for our brethren, they are messengers of the [assemblies], a glory to Messiah,” with apostoloi ekklēsiōn very possibly being “apostles of the assemblies” (HNV). Andronicus and Junia serving as apostles, is much more likely in this context, in the sense of them being missionary-preachers, and not in the same dimension of figures like Peter, James, John, or perhaps even Paul.[361] Given that they were Jewish Believers before Paul, they may very well have been among those in Jerusalem at Shavuot/Pentecost (Acts 2:10), or if native to Rome were immediately impacted by those Roman Jewish Believers who returned home after this.

Mentioning some of the work of Richard Bauckham in his Gospel Women: Studies in the Named Women of the Gospels (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), Witherington draws attention to the proposal of how the female apostle Junia, was the Joanna listed in Luke 8:3.[362] He describes, “Early Jews who had regular contact with the Greco-Roman world in one way or another often took Latin names, favoring those which sounded like their Jewish names if possible, and Junia is close in sound to the Jewish name Yohannah [Heb. Yochanah; Grk. trans. Iōanna].”[363] If this is correct, then it would also explain how Andronicus and Junia were both Believers before Paul, but rather than being Jewish Believers native to Rome, they would instead have been Jewish Believers native to Israel or the province of Judea.

N.T. Wright, who is among those who correctly acknowledge Junia as a female apostle, and working from egalitarian presuppositions, further adds, “though presumably others, such as Mary Magdalene, were known as such as well.”[364]

What have some Messianic voices said about the identity of the female Junia in Romans 16:7? In his Jewish New Testament Commentary, Stern draws the conclusion, “The matter takes on importance from the remark that they were well known among the emissaries, which may mean not that they were well known to the emissaries, but that they were themselves well-known emissaries. If so, this would be the only instance of a female emissary in the New Testament.”[365] While the CJB does have the rendering, “Greetings to Andronicus and Junia, relatives of mine who were in prison with me. They are well known among the emissaries; also they came to trust in the Messiah before I did,” Stern hesitates as to whether or not Junia was an actual emissary or apostle. In his commentary on Romans, Tim Hegg, as a complementarian no less, does recognize that Junia was a female apostle: “Many commentators have opted for the masculine purely on contextual grounds, reasoning that ‘apostle’ could not be applied to a woman. But this is to apply a prejudice to the text of which it knows nothing.”[366]

For my own self as a Bible teacher, I have never tried to hide or conceal my egalitarian views regarding both men and women in positions of leadership within the Body of Messiah today. I absolutely welcome the fact that Junia was a female apostle commended by Paul, and certainly believe that her presence in the greetings of Romans ch. 16 lends strong support to women being permitted to serve and lead and teach within the assembly, on the same platform as men. Yet at the same time, I know that many studies and some debating will be on the horizon, as an egalitarian ideology can be tailored for the theological and spiritual future of our emerging Messianic movement.


39. Paul seems to base the primary responsibility of man to lead and teach on the fact that he was created first, before woman (1 Tim. 2:13). How is this a valid argument when the animals were created before man but don’t have primary responsibility for leading him?

Complementarians typically take the instruction of 1 Timothy 2:11-14 as being universal to the Body of Messiah. Evangelical egalitarians would be quite keen to emphasize some circumstances local to First Century Ephesus, as requiring the restrictions—circumstances connected to a false teaching that negatively affected many females (1 Timothy 4:7; 2 Timothy 3:6), and also incorrectly advocated that the general resurrection had taken place (2 Timothy 2:18). Recognizing what 1 Timothy 2:11-14 communicates in light of these wider issues (much of which we have previously addressed), is important, per what 1 Timothy 2:13 communicates:

“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner” (1 Timothy 2:11-14, TNIV).

Piper and Grudem conclude that “Adam was formed first, then Eve” (1 Timothy 2:13, ESV), means that males are to serve as the sole leaders and teachers within the Body of Messiah. In their words,

“[W]e think the most natural implication of God’s decision to bring Adam onto the scene ahead of Eve is that Adam is called to bear the responsibility of headship. That fact is validated by the New Testament when Paul uses the fact that ‘Adam was formed first, then Eve’ (1 Tim. 2:13), to draw a conclusion about male and female leadership in the church.”[367]

Alternatively to the traditional view that “Adam was formed first, then Eve,” involves leadership roles within the Body of Messiah, one has to postulate that the false teaching that had affected the Ephesians, who Timothy was overseeing, had probably affected more women than men. This can be deduced from statements such as, “But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7), or “For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses” (2 Timothy 3:6). The claim that the resurrection had taken place (2 Timothy 2:18), as well as the false teaching’s prohibition on eating meat and marriage (1 Timothy 4:1-5), likely supported some return on the part of Believers to an Edenic pre-Fall lifestyle—as eating meat and sexual intercourse were thought to be results of the post-Fall period. That the figure of Eve likely bore some significance to the female adherents of this false teaching, can also be assumed. For sure, various females in Ephesus took upon themselves the role of teacher, for which they were not qualified.

So what does this mean? Paul’s priority to Timothy in Ephesus, is not to see females restricted or limited in their spiritual growth; Paul’s priority is to see the Ephesian females properly trained and educated: “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness” (1 Timothy 2:11, ESV). Yet, while Paul’s priority is to see the Ephesian females learn, in an appropriate manner, he is against them usurping (Grk. verb authenteō) the recognized and educated, male leadership of the assembly: “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence” (1 Timothy 2:12, KJV). Females in Ephesus were to be trained and educated, they were not to usurp the educated male leadership in Ephesus, and force themselves into positions which they were not (yet) qualified for.

Huge differences of approach are witnessed between complementarian and egalitarians on what Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:13. As it appears in the NASU, “For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.” Some believe this supports a Creation order of males leading, and females following. In the RSV, 1 Timothy 2:13 appears as, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve.” In Genesis 1:27, describing the creation of male and female, the Hebrew verb bara, was rendered in the Greek Septuagint as poieō, to make or to create. In Genesis 2:7-8, the Hebrew verb yatzar, to form or fashion, was rendered in the Greek Septuagint as plassō. AMG offers the fairly general definition of, “To form, fashion, mold, with reference to any soft substance, as a potter does the clay.”[368] In a classical context, the verb plassō means “generally, to mould and form by education, training” (LS).[369] The verb plassō is not the normative term for “create,” but instead speaks of the forming of the human person.

Why was Eve deceived in the Garden of Eden? “And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression” (1 Timothy 2:14). Was Eve deceived by the serpent, because she was a female, and females are less intelligent than males? In the dialogue of Genesis 3:3, Eve tells the serpent, “God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die,’” actually adding to God’s word, which was that only eating the fruit was forbidden (Genesis 2:16-17). One might actually say that Eve was having to reason with the prohibition, demonstrating some degree of higher thought. Yet, the serpent deceived her with the word, “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). Eve did not know what this meant.

Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:13, “For Adam was formed first, then Havah” (CJB/CJSB). Paul’s desire was to see the Ephesian women educated (1 Timothy 2:11), and not ignorant. They likely gave some importance to Eve, in the false teaching they had ascribed to. Not unlike Eve, they found themselves deceived.

What was Adam’s advantage over Eve? Was his advantage being male, and seemingly less susceptible to deception? Or was Adam’s advantage over Eve, one of being formed first? Far from this being some kind of Creation order of males leading and females following—Adam had a greater understanding of who God was, what the Garden was, what the forbidden fruit was, what the dangers were of eating the forbidden fruit, and just more experience in growing in his knowledge and relationship of God and His Creation—than Eve had. Adam was educationally formed first. When it is recorded, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you…” (Genesis 3:17), Adam’s mistake was failing to use the situation of Eve having eaten the fruit—as she did not fully know what she did, being deceived—to correct her, informing her of what she had heard from the serpent and did wrong, and in immediately crying out to the Creator God for His mercy. Instead, Adam obviously wanted to eat the fruit (Genesis 3:6).

Adam was formed first, and had more knowledge than Eve of the consequences of eating the forbidden fruit. Adam’s mistake was in failing to convey more of his knowledge to Eve, resulting in Eve being not only deceived by the serpent—but in being under-formed or under-developed in her understanding of the Creation.

In First Century Ephesus, the male leaders of the assembly, would have been educated. Unfortunately, too many of them found themselves in a place of seeing various females deceived by the false teaching, and then trying to usurp them. Paul’s answer in 1 Timothy 2:11-14 was not to see the females put away into a dark corner, but instead to see them properly educated. And, just as the ultimate answer to the sin committed by Adam and Eve was, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel” (Genesis 3:15), so was the answer to the Ephesian females: “she will be saved through the Child-Bearing [dia tēs teknogonias], if they continue in faith and love and sanctification with sensibility” (1 Timothy 2:15, PME).


40. Isn’t it true that the reason Paul did not permit women to teach was that women were not well educated in the first century? But that reason does not apply today. In fact, since women are as well educated as men today, shouldn’t we allow both women and men to be pastors?

The issue of education, and what would qualify someone to be sufficiently educated, is as much of a debate in the Body of Messiah today, as it doubtlessly was in the First Century C.E. It was noted by the Jewish religious leaders, of the disciples Peter and John, “that they were uneducated and untrained men” (Acts 4:13). In this sense, it is deduced from the context that Peter and John could probably read and write, but they did not possess a religious education akin to a figure like Saul of Tarsus (Acts 22:3). Possessing a formal religious education, where one can be trained in the Holy Scriptures, a history of interpretation, proper application for one’s faith community, and the ability to communicate to and counsel others—can certainly be an advantage to many.

In the context of the false teaching that had ravaged the Ephesian Believers, women or females somehow played a role in both receiving and acting upon it. In his instruction to Timothy, one detects that there were issues present involving proper and improper female attire (1 Timothy 2:9-10). It is especially seen that various Ephesian women were considered gullible and easily misled (1 Timothy 4:7; 2 Timothy 3:6). The Ephesian false teaching involved a misuse of the Torah (1 Timothy 1:6-8), with an emphasis on genealogies (1 Timothy 1:4), likely stemming from minor Tanach figures mentioned once or twice in canonical Scripture, but for whom much speculation existed in Second Temple Judaism. The false teaching especially advocated that the resurrection had taken place (2 Timothy 2:18), and consequently also that eating meat and marriage were forbidden (1 Timothy 4:1-5), things which were apparently not needed for those who had experienced the resurrection. Both complementarian and egalitarian readers can agree that many of the Ephesian women were susceptible to the false teaching, because of some ancient societal trends.

Egalitarian readers of 1 Timothy 2 will often conclude, on the basis of how the verb plassō appears in Paul’s statement, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve” (1 Timothy 2:13, ESV), that an educational forming of Adam before Eve is being invoked by Paul (discussed previously). Adam had more formation as a human being, not only by virtue of his being chronologically created first, but due to his many more interactions and encounters with the Creator God and the Creation. In wanting to see the problems that had erupted in Ephesus fixed, Paul unambiguously directs, “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness” (1 Timothy 2:11, ESV), as those who had been negatively influenced were to be properly trained. Might this have involved some form of basic literacy? For many of the females in view, it may legitimately have. This would be especially true of females from the lower classes.

In their resource, 50 Crucial Questions, Piper and Grudem do not think that a lack of training or education is the issue in 1 Timothy 2:12, 13-14, but instead some kind of Creation order.[370] They specifically conclude that most of the women in Ephesus were probably trained in basic literacy. In their estimation,

“[F]ormal training in Scripture was not required for leadership in the New Testament church—even several of the apostles did not have formal biblical training (Acts 4:13), while the skills of basic literacy, and therefore the ability to read and study Scripture, were available to men and women alike (note Acts 18:26; Rom. 16:1; 1 Tim. 2:11; Titus 2:3-4). The papyri show ‘widespread literacy’ among Greek-speaking women in Egypt, and in Roman society…”[371]

Certainly, it would be inappropriate to suggest that all of the females in Ephesus could not read and write. However, education was favored of males over females in the ancient world—whether that be the classical Greco-Roman world or even the Jewish world. Females with limited literacy, mainly from pagan backgrounds, with some cursory knowledge of Israel’s God and Israel’s Scriptures, would have been easy targets for the false teaching—not having fully formed or developed spiritually. Paul said of the false teachers who influenced them, “For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses” (2 Timothy 3:6), more likely describing non-Jewish females involved with the ekklēsia, not fully committed to a life of discipleship and holiness as they ought.

Piper and Grudem further question the public teaching competency of the female Priscilla, thinking that what she did in training Apollos (Acts 18:26), was entirely private and confidential (something which can probably be disputed as it surely involved various members of the assembly). They argue that she and her husband Aquila had returned to Ephesus by the time 1&2 Timothy were composed (cf. 2 Timothy 4:19).[372] They conclude, “not even well-educated Priscilla, nor any other well-educated women in Ephesus, were allowed to teach men in the public assembly of the church.”[373] They specifically appeal to 1 Timothy 2:12, but with no examination of the verb authenteō, correctly translated in the verse as, “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority [authenteō] over the man, but to be in silence” (KJV), reflective of the situational circumstances in Ephesus that had been caused by the false teaching (discussed previously). The females in Ephesus who had been influenced by the false teaching were to learn in silence (1 Timothy 2:11), not teach and thus usurp authority over the already present and qualified male teachers (1 Timothy 2:12, Grk.)

The question in view included the statement, “In fact, since women are as well educated as men today, shouldn’t we allow both women and men to the pastors?” When 1 Timothy 2:11-14 are viewed as representing situational circumstances and not universal circumstances—with a lack of education on the part of many Ephesian women being a major cause of the false teaching—modern Bible readers female and male alike should be astute enough to realize that they might need some more training in the Holy Scriptures and theology before taking on any teaching role at their local assembly. Good complementarian readers of 1 Timothy 2:11 would not have ignorant females teaching a women’s Bible study. A fair number of egalitarian readers of 1 Timothy 2:11-14 would stress that while they do not see a universal prohibition of females teaching present, they would not put theologically uneducated people in positions of leadership in the Body of Messiah. A regimen involving examination of the Biblical languages of Hebrew and Greek, theological studies, various ancient histories, and communication and counseling methods would be necessary for any person to be a leader and teacher in the Body of Messiah. And most especially, anyone being a leader and/or teacher in the contemporary Body of Messiah must be genuinely called of the Lord to serve.


41. Why do you bring up homosexuality when discussing male and female role distinctions in the home and the church (as in question 1)? Most evangelical feminists are just as opposed as you are to the practice of homosexuality.

While it is not true of all complementarians in their interactions with egalitarians, many complementarians are witnessed to say things to the effect that if men and women serve as co-leaders of the home and the Body of Messiah—then the door has been opened wide for a later acceptance, or at least tolerance, of homosexuality. This includes complementarians Piper and Grudem, in their publication 50 Crucial Questions:

“We bring up homosexuality because we believe that by minimizing the differences in sexual roles, feminists contribute to the confusion of sexual identity that, especially in the second and third generations, gives rise to more homosexuality in society. Some evangelicals who once disapproved of homosexuality have been carried over by their feminist arguments to the approval of faithful homosexual alliances.”[374]

Here, Piper and Grudem forthrightly conclude that evangelical Protestant egalitarians (who they call “feminists”), who believe that there is a leveling of leadership roles in the post-resurrection era, are facilitating an acceptance of homosexuality. They mention a variety of examples, of mainly academic Christian people, a number of whom were reared in conservative and evangelical homes—and are witnessed as having adopted an egalitarian position of men and women as equal leaders in the ekklēsia, to later accepting homosexuality.[375] Piper and Grudem do recognize that there are evangelical Protestant egalitarians (whom they pejoratively call “evangelical feminists”), who while believing in male and female co-leadership in the home and the Body of Messiah, also stand against homosexuality. Yet, Piper and Grudem think that an egalitarian ideology of leadership roles among men and women, skew masculinity or femininity. In their words,

“But even when evangelical feminists who continue to agree with us that Scripture views homosexual conduct as sinful face the very real danger of imparting gender role confusion to their children. How can a firm and loving affirmation of a son’s masculinity or a daughter’s femininity be cultivated in an atmosphere where role differences between masculinity and femininity are constantly denied or minimized? If the only significant role differentiation is based on competency and has no root in nature, what will parents do to shape the sexual identity of their children?”[376]

A husband and wife serving as co-equal partners in a heterosexual marriage relationship, and men and women serving as co-equal leaders in a congregational setting, hardly means that masculinity and femininity get jettisoned. It is true that egalitarians would stress an ideology of gifts-based service, but it cannot be denied—as would be denied by liberal supporters of homosexuality—that egalitarians would indeed stress that there are differences between men and women based on reproductive gender. I myself, am a firmly outspoken opponent of homosexual intercourse and homosexual marriage, and unlike Piper and Grudem and others, do not believe that it is inevitable that an egalitarian ideology of heterosexual men and women as co-leaders of home and congregation, opens the door wide open for an acceptance of homosexuality. I addressed this as much on an FAQ posted to the Messianic Apologetics website, dated 13 November, 2015:

Does acceptance of an egalitarian ideology for men and women as co-leaders, inevitably lead to an acceptance of homosexuality and gay marriage?

While many complementarians would voice considerable disapproval of egalitarians, who believe that in principle females can be ordained leaders and teachers in the Body of Messiah alongside of men, and that husbands and wives should be co-leaders of the family—many would recognize that a leveling of the field for both men and women does not at all open the door to, or for that matter require, an acceptance of homosexual practice and gay marriage. There are many egalitarians, who would argue that while in the post-resurrection era, an equality lost in Eden (Genesis 3:16) has been restored by the work of Yeshua (Galatians 3:28), and that some traditional interpretations of passages designed to limit women should be reevaluated (1 Timothy 2:11-15), that the Apostolic Scriptures absolutely prohibit homosexual practice (Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10; cf. Leviticus 18:22; 20:13), contrary to various liberal interpretations today.

Complications have erupted since the legalization of homosexual marriage in the United States in 2015, particularly among Christian people who went through a process of transitioning from some form of complementarian to an egalitarian position regarding men and women, to then being challenged to “go further” and accept the legitimacy of homosexual marriage. More often than not, this has been spurred among those from the Millennial generation, and not older evangelical Christian egalitarians. Complementarian critics of men and women serving together as leaders in the Body of Messiah, while recognizing that there might indeed be egalitarians who oppose homosexuality, have observed how “we have not seen a substantial presence of young egalitarians speak against same-sex marriage.”[377] And indeed, to some extent, such complementarians would be correct, as egalitarian voices do not tend to unite in order to oppose the homosexual agenda.[378] Instead, what seems to be found is that (older) conservative theologians and scholars who are egalitarian, are usually known for their opposition to homosexual practice (among other sins) based on how they approach and disagree with liberal handlings of Romans 1:26-27 or 1 Corinthians 6:9, which would often argue in favor of both passages speaking of either homosexual prostitution or pedastry.[379] The egalitarian organization Christians for Biblical Equality (, is clear to emphasize in their Statement of Faith: “We believe in the family, celibate singleness, and faithful heterosexual marriage as God’s design.” Yet, there are (mainly) younger people who have been involved with CBE, who have later capitulated to the homosexual agenda.

Why have there been various egalitarian people, favoring females as ordained leaders and teachers, who have later embraced homosexual intercourse as not being prohibited by the Scriptures, and gay marriage? Much of this is likely contingent on life circumstances which have affected each individual. Many younger Christian people from the Millennial generation, who have embraced homosexual legitimacy (although themselves being heterosexual), were not raised in liberal and permissive homes. Many of these young people were actually raised in fundamentalist and rather strict Christian homes, where complementarianism was enforced, the men were superior to the women, and the women were demeaned as inferiors.[380] Seeing a number of significant flaws, and perhaps even abuses at play, with women not being too encouraged to exercise their spiritual or intellectual gifts, once out of the home, such persons were naturally very open to evangelical egalitarian viewpoints of mutuality (cf. Ephesians 5:21ff) and examples of females in leadership in the Holy Scriptures. When these people embrace the concept of men and women being equals as leaders and teachers in the assembly, they tend to face a great deal of rejection, particularly from various complementarian denominations and institutions. It is usually from such rejection and dismissal that people can later go from being egalitarian in terms of men and women in the Body of Messiah, to then feeling enabled to consider liberal theological perspectives on homosexuality in the Bible.

Many people, such as Messianic Apologetics editor J.K. McKee, have had various experiences force them to question some of the more customary interpretations of passages that seemingly prohibit wives from being co-leaders of the family and females from being teachers and leaders in the assembly. As egalitarians, they have come to hold to a different trajectory regarding men and women in the Bible, than complementarians. But they also draw a red line at the legitimacy of homosexual intercourse and gay marriage. They are understandably perturbed and aggravated when egalitarians cross that red line and embrace the homosexual agenda.

It is hard to ignore the fact that while complementarianism has been the majority ideology regarding men and women in the broad Messianic movement into the 2010s, that there is a growing egalitarianism. This needs to be an egalitarianism which emphasizes a gifts-based service ethos for the Body of Messiah, and the universal availability of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17-18). While an emerging Messianic egalitarian ideology might stir some controversy, persons such as this writer are only moving slightly beyond what is summarized by Michael L. Brown, who is seemingly a soft complementarian, who does make a rightful contrast between females being lauded in the Apostolic Scriptures or New Testament, and the uniform condemnation of homosexual practice:

“…while it is clear that there was not total social equality between men and women in biblical days, including during the time of the New Testament, it is equally clear that women could be raised up by God as leaders, that women were to be highly respected and regarded by their husbands, that women played a prominent role in the ministry of Jesus and the early church, and that the gospel message itself is liberating for women…[I]t is only by a misuse of the Scriptures that the church could oppress women and treat them like second-class citizens.

“This is in stark contrast to the Bible’s description of homosexual practice, which…is always seen as contrary to God’s established order, while it is heterosexual practice and male-female unions that are the only option. And while liberation from slavery is pointed to as a positive ideal in the Scriptures, and while the Word has much to say that is positive about women, there is not a single positive statement about homosexuality in the Bible. In fact, every time it is mentioned, it is condemned in the clearest of terms.”[381]


42. How do you know that your interpretation of Scripture is not influenced more by your background and culture than by what the authors of Scripture actually intended?

All of us, no matter hard we try to deny it, are affected by any number of factors when we interpret the Holy Scriptures—especially when it comes to men and women in the Body of Messiah. As complementarians, Piper and Grudem are honest enough to admit:

“We have our personal predispositions and have no doubt been influenced by all the genetic and environmental constraints of our past and present, and we hope we are not above correction. But we take heart that some measure of freedom from falsehood is possible, because the Bible encourages us not to be conformed to this age but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:1-2).”[382]

We are to all be men and women of the Kingdom of God, thinking and acting differently than the world around us—which is a world of injustice, oppression, dominance, and exploitation. Unfortunately throughout the many centuries of humanity, some of the most stark exploitation and discrimination against women, has occurred at the hands of the institutional Christian Church—often via the guise of “protection”—the last place one would have expected it to be witnessed. Egalitarians surely want to see past mistakes rectified, as women should be educated the same as men, paid the same wage for the same amount of work in the marketplace, not be objectified or sexually harassed by men, and most especially examples of females serving the Body of Messiah in the Holy Scriptures should be investigated and taken more seriously than they commonly are.

Piper and Grudem try to be even handed (although they negatively refer to egalitarians below as “feminists”) in emphasizing that both egalitarians and complementarians have been affected by various stimuli:

“Whether feminists are more influenced by the immense cultural pressure of contemporary egalitarian assumptions or we are more influenced by centuries of patriarchalism and by our masculine drives is hard to say. It does little good for us to impugn each other on the basis of these partially subconscious influences. It is clear from the literature that we all have our suspicions.”[383]

Each of us has been affected by our experiences of growing up, particularly in terms of how we interacted with our mothers, female siblings, grandmothers, extended female family, and other women in our lives. We are all affected by our level of education, our socio-economic status, and even our ethnic heritage. We are also affected by our personal ideologies and philosophies, and whether we want to see all people achieve great things in their lives, or only some people achieve great things. Some of us are even affected by our level of theological education and engagement with the debates concerning men and women in the assembly. When discussing the issue of men and women in the Body of Messiah, some degree of self-disclosure on the personal background and experiences of either a complementarian or egalitarian, is highly useful.


43. Why is it acceptable to sing hymns written by women and recommend books written by women but not to permit them to say the same things audibly?

Piper and Grudem are fair to recognize that a complementarian ideology hardly means the total silencing of females in the assembly. They note the presence of public praise and prophecy in Paul’s letters. Ephesians 5:19 references “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord,” and 1 Corinthians 11:5 recognizes the presence of females “praying or prophesying,” both of which are public activities. They conclude that a complementarian ideology does not prohibit ministries led by women, for teaching women—but only that their complementarian ideology prohibits women from functioning within the main leadership structure of a congregation. As they put it,

“We have not, of course, ruled out either small or worldwide ministries of women teaching other women. The issue for us is whether a woman should function as part of the primary teaching leadership (i.e., eldership) in a fellowship of women and men, and it seems to us that publicly teaching a congregation from the Scriptures does just that.”[384]

Their main reason for barring females from the main leadership structure of a congregation comes from 1 Timothy 2:12, which they interpret as universal rather than situational (addressed previously). They also mention the example of Priscilla playing a role in the discipleship of Apollos, which they conclude was something widely private. Acts 18:26 records, “he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.” Is there enough information in this verse to conclude that Priscilla teaching Apollos was something entirely confidential? According to BDAG, the verb proslambanō can mean, “to take or lead off to oneself, take aside,”[385] with AMG offering the more general, “To take in addition, receive besides, to take to or with oneself in one’s company.”[386] While Priscilla and Aquila directing Apollos about the finer nuances of the good news or gospel was hardly for the general consumption of all in Ephesus—it was certainly something which affected and involved more than just the three of them. But even if this were something largely private, how many complementarian pastors or spiritual leaders today actually let themselves be privately taught, guided, or mentored by a female?


44. Isn’t giving women access to all offices and roles a simple matter of justice that even our society recognizes?

When the customs and prevailing philosophies of society at large are invoked, to discuss any matter of theology, there will be some level of subjectivity present. Both complementarians and egalitarians in the West, hardly believe that significant progress has not been made for the cause of females in terms of education, employment, and opportunities to advance. I myself fully believe that men and women should be paid equally for the work they perform. However, Piper and Grudem mainly respond to Question #44 by mentioning contemporary examples of social justice involving homosexuals.[387]

A better question would actually have been: How does complementarianism encourage respect for women more than egalitarianism?

There are many injustices toward females seen in complementarian spiritual environments. Ephesians 5:4 admonishes, “there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.” I have witnessed many complementarian pastors openly disparage their wives from the pulpit, or they have made crass and objectifying remarks about their wives being “hot.” I have seen seminary-trained complementarians speak about how the kitchen is more of an appropriate place for a woman, than a center of learning the Scriptures. No female in the Body of Messiah should be subjected to such verbal abuse. No male in the Body of Messiah should tolerate such talk, and should make the effort to see that it is corrected. How many complementarian ministers, who are married, will publicly say that their wives are their equals? How many are more likely to say that they make sure that their wives are in submission to their (apparent) male authority? Is complementarianism more likely to facilitate respect and honor of men toward women, or ridicule and discord?

Complementarianism is an ideology, which at its heart emphasizes the differences between men and women first, rather than the commonality of human beings first. The story of redemption through Yeshua the Messiah, is that the sin of the first human beings Adam and Eve, can be rectified through His sacrifice at Golgotha: “in the same way that sin entered the world through one person, and death came through sin, so death spread to all human beings with the result that all sinned…If many people died through what one person did wrong, God’s grace is multiplied even more for many people with the gift—of the one person Jesus Christ—that comes through grace” (Romans 5:12, 15, Common English Bible). Egalitarians hardly believe that men and women are one-hundred percent the same, but their common humanness and their need for salvation, is more pressing than their reproductive organs which are different.


45. Isn’t it true that God is called our “helper” numerous times in the Bible with the same word used to describe Eve when she was called a “helper” suitable for man? Doesn’t that rule out any notion of a uniquely submissive role for her, or even make her more authoritative than the man?

All of us, in our reading of Genesis ch. 2, have encountered where Eve was created by God to be Adam’s helper or helpmeet—and as has been seen in much traditional or customary Christian thought, this implies that Eve was to be Adam’s subordinate. This is a position which continues to be held by most complementarians, although egalitarians do most frequently challenge the conclusion that “helper” means a subordinate or inferior.

Adam, the first human, is seen giving names to all of the animals brought before him (Genesis 2:19). It is then narrated, “And the man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:20). As Adam was encountering all of the different animals, he saw both male and female of various species, and had to wonder if he would be the only of his kind. It has been recognized that it was not good for Adam to be alone (Genesis 2:18), and so a deep sleep falls upon the man, and the first woman or Eve is created from his rib (Genesis 2:21-22). Adam is ecstatic at the arrival of the woman, noting how she came from him: “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man” (Genesis 2:23). Both complementarians and egalitarians should agree on the ontological equality of men and women from Adam’s statement in Genesis 2:23.

When Genesis 2:20 communicates, “but for Adam no fitting helper was found” (NJPS), was Eve intended to be Adam’s subordinate as the ezer kenegdo? TWOT offers some rather general options:

“While this word designates assistance, it is more frequently used in a concrete sense to designate the assistant. (Cf. Gen 2:18, 20 where Eve is created to be Adam’s help[er].) As to the source of the help, this word is generally used to designate divine aid, particularly in Psalms (Cf. Psa 121:1, 2) where it includes both material and spiritual assistance.”[388]

At one side of the spectrum, the Hebrew term ezer is used to describe Eve being the “helper” of Adam, and at the other side of the spectrum the term ezer is used to describe God as some kind of a helper. Piper and Grudem recognize some of this, but conclude in their publication 50 Crucial Questions that the woman as helper is to be an assistant to the man:

“It is true that God is often called our ‘helper,’ but the word itself does not imply anything about rank or authority. The context must decide whether Eve is to ‘help’ as a strong person who aids a weaker one or as one who assists a loving leader. The context makes it very unlikely that ‘helper’ should be read on the analogy of God’s help, because in Genesis 2:19-20 Adam first seeks his ‘helper’ among the animals. But the animals will not do, because they are not ‘fit for him.’ So God makes the woman ‘from the man’ (v. 22). Now there is a being who is ‘fit for him,’ sharing his human nature, equal to him in godlike personhood. She is infinitely different from an animal, and God highlights her value to man by showing how no animal can fill her role. Yet in passing through ‘helpful’ animals to woman, God teaches us that the woman is a man’s ‘helper’ in the sense of a loyal and suitable assistant in the life of the garden.”[389]

There is little denying the fact that the perspective represented above is one which we have all heard, and continue to see promoted by many evangelical Protestants. Yet, those who are more egalitarian minded would stress how ezer or “helper” is used in contexts where an obvious superior force comes to the aid of another. Consider the following thoughts offered by Alice Mathews in Gender Roles and the People of God:

“The first Hebrew word, transliterated ezer, appears twenty-one times in the Old Testament. When we look at all of these occurrences together, we get a sense of its meaning. In two cases, it is used to describe the woman Eve (Genesis 2:18, 20), and three times, it refers to nations to whom Israel appealed for military help when faced with a powerful enemy (Isaiah 30:5; Ezekiel 12:14; Daniel 11:34). In the remaining sixteen cases, it refers to God as our help {Exodus 18:4; Deuteronomy 33:7, 26, 29; Psalms 20:2; 33:20; 70:5; 89:19; 115:9, 10, 11; 121:1, 2; 124:8; 146:5; Hosea 13:9}. God is the one who comes alongside us in our helplessness. Any idea here of inferiority is untenable. God is not subordinate to his creatures….While many Christians see Eve’s function as a subordinate, the word ezer does not support that idea. Eve was not created to serve Adam but serve with him.”[390]

In their estimation of Eve being Adam’s “helper,” the two options that are presented by Piper and Grudem are those of “a strong person who aids a weaker one or as one who assists a loving leader.”[391] This is a false dichotomy. It is impossible to argue that Eve as “helper” was created to be Adam’s superior, even though God as the “helper” of Israel or of people generally is as the Eternal One obviously superior. However, it can be challenged whether Eve being created as Adam’s “helper” means that she was only a secondary assistant. Earlier in Genesis 1:27-28, it is narrated how the creation of human beings involved not only both male and female being created in the image of God, but also both male and female were to subdue and exercise dominion over the Earth jointly. To egalitarian readers, man and woman were created to rule over the Earth as equals, thus Eve being Adam’s “helper” meant that she was to be his significant ally, indeed serving along with him:

“God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth’” (Genesis 1:27-28, NRSV).


46. Literally, 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 says, “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer.” Doesn’t this show that unilateral authority from the husband is wrong?

Paul’s instruction of 1 Corinthians 7:3-5, describes how both a husband and a wife, are to come to a mutual agreement and consensus in their sexual relations. This most especially concerns seasons when a husband and wife abstain from having sexual intercourse, with the explicit intention of using such time for prayer:

“The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (1 Corinthians 7:3-5).

Piper and Grudem offer the following, appropriate conclusions on what 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 communicate:

“This text is not a license for sexual exploitation. It is an application to the sexual life of the command, ‘Outdo one another in showing honor’ (Rom. 12:10). Or, ‘In humility count others more significant than yourselves’ (Phil. 1:23). Or, ‘only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another’ (Gal. 5:13). The focus is not on what we have a right to take but on the debt we have to pay. Paul does not say, ‘Take what you want.’ He says, ‘Do not deprive each other.’ In other words, when it lies within your power to meet your spouse’s needs, do it.”[392]

As complementarians, Piper and Grudem do not think that the direction of 1 Corinthians 7:3-5, and the mutuality present between a husband and wife, is something that challenges their ideology’s stance of the “general leadership”[393] of a husband in marriage. They further state, “The difference between us and the evangelical feminists [sic] is that they think the concept disappears into mutuality, while we think the concept is shaped by mutuality.”[394] Egalitarians certainly think that 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 is a serious text for considering the relationship of a husband and wife—and not only for the mutual honor and respect they are to demonstrate to the other’s body—but the mutual partnership they are to have in marriage.

The following review of 1 Corinthians 7:3-6 is excerpted from the 2015 commentary 1 Corinthians for the Practical Messianic:

7:3 Paul’s words about sexuality within marriage, in vs. 3-4, were profoundly different than how sexuality was commonly approached by his Jewish contemporaries. He asserts, “Let the husband give his wife her due, and so likewise the wife to her husband” (Lattimore), tēn opheilēn being approached as either “the debt” (Brown and Comfort)[395] or “obligation” (TLV). Paul speaks very favorably of heterosexual intercourse, for far more reasons than just procreation, as statements from major figures like Philo or Josephus precisely show that many Jews looked at sexual intercourse as mainly for producing children. There are statements witnessed which speak against sexual intercourse for pleasure:

“But those who marry women who have been previously tested by other men and ascertained to be barren, do merely covet the carnal enjoyment like so many boars or goats, and deserve to be inscribed among the lists of impious men as enemies to God; for God, as being friendly to all the animals that exist, and especially to man, takes all imaginable care to secure preservation and duration to every kind of creature. But those who seek to waste all their power at the very moment of putting it forth are confessedly enemies of nature…[F]or those men are devoted to pleasure who are not influenced by the wish of propagating children, and of perpetuating their race, when they have connection with women, but who are only like boars or he-goats seeking the enjoyment that arises from such a connection. Again, who can be greater haters of their species than those who are the implacable and ferocious enemies of their own children? Unless, indeed, any one is so foolish as to imagine that these men can be humane to strangers who act in a barbarous manner to those who are united to them by ties of blood” (Philo Special Laws 3.36, 113).[396]

“Moreover, there is another order of Essenes, who agree with the rest as to their way of living, and customs, and laws, but differ from them in the point of marriage, as thinking that by not marrying they cut off the principal part of human life, which is the prospect of succession; nay rather, that if all men should be of the same opinion, the whole race of mankind would fail. However, they try their spouses for three years’ probation; and if they find that they have their natural purgations thrice, as trials that they are likely to be fruitful, they then actually marry them. But they do not use to accompany with their wives when they are with child, as a demonstration that they do not marry out of regard to pleasure, but for the sake of posterity. Now the women go into the baths with some of their garments on, as the men do with something girded about them. And these are the customs of this order of Essenes” (Josephus Wars of the Jews 2.160-161).[397]

Quite opposite to the widespread view among many Jews that human sexuality was mainly for procreation, the Apostle Paul does recognize the value of heterosexual intercourse. Paul was significantly unique in emphasizing the role that both husband and wife play in heterosexual relations: “The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs” (NLT). If a figure like Paul was a rigid patriarchalist, then he would have only mentioned the sexual needs of the husband—which he did not do! David Prior properly observes, “Paul here nails any selfishness or inconsiderate excess in the physical aspects of marriage. This whole approach to equality and mutuality in the marriage-relationship was completely revolutionary in Paul’s day, remained so for many centuries afterwards, and continues to be so in virtually every modern culture.”[398] Sex was for the woman as much as it was for the man. And, Paul’s statement here was especially vital for various Corinthians to keep in mind, as Roy E. Ciampa and Brian S. Rosner state how it “would have been a pointed reminder to husbands who thought they were free to continue sexual relationships with household slaves, prostitutes, or consorts that they were not in fact free to do so.”[399]

7:4 What Paul communicates in v. 4 is especially revolutionary, and continues to be in many religious settings, as it emphasizes the mutual relationship of husband and wife as one: “For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does” (ESV). Here, the verb of importance is exousiazō, “to have the right of control, have the right/power for someth. or over someone” (BDAG).[400] It is not just the wife who has to submit to the needs of her husband, but the husband also has to submit to the needs of his wife. The husband and wife are to belong to each other. Ben Witherington III draws the significant conclusion, “[Paul’s] egalitarian treatment of the rights of each partner is remarkable and would have amounted to a serious qualification of the status quo. Few Romans could have conceived of arguing that the husband’s body belonged to the wife.”[401]

Even among Believers today, the concept of mutual submission, of husband and wife within marriage (Ephesians 5:21ff), is something that can be met with skepticism at best, but also a great deal of rancor and even hostility.[402] Husband and wife are to be co-equal partners, looking out for one another, and gauging one another for certain in an important dynamic like sexual intimacy. Paul’s direction of husband and wife both having authority over the other, has not been emphasized to the degree that it should throughout most of religious history. I have never heard Messianic teachers emphasize it that much. Instead, one is more likely to hear the sexual needs of the man overwhelmingly trump the needs of the woman. As Gordon D. Fee comments,

“[I]n responding as he does, with emphasis on the full mutuality of sexuality within marriage, Paul puts sexual relations within Christian marriage on much higher ground than one finds in most cultures, including the church, where sex is often viewed as the husband’s right and the wife’s obligation. For Paul the marriage bed is both unitive (cf. 6:16) and an affirmation that the two belong to one another in total mutuality.”[403]

J. Paul Sampley goes further, in rightfully addressing how the authority that husband and wife possess over one another, extends beyond sexuality, and involves honoring one another in their marital and family decisions:

“The assertions about the woman’s having authority over the man’s body and the man’s having authority over the woman’s body should give a modern Christian couple an opportunity to discuss and evaluate their practice not only of who is allowed or expected to initiate sexual intercourse but also of how authority is shared in other family decisions and practices. Paul’s view of this shared authority honors both the needs and rights of each sexual partner. And by extrapolation, wives and husbands could work at honoring one another’s needs and rights in all aspects of their shared lives.”[404]

Too frequently in religious history, “A wife belongs to her husband instead of to herself, and a husband belongs to his wife instead of to himself” (Contemporary English Version), has not been a concept too widely emphasized. A failure to emphasize the mutual submission of husband and wife to each other—especially given the pressures of the modern world, and the easiness and frequentness of divorce—has most probably caused far too many unstable and unhappy marriages.

7:5 While Paul has described the importance of sexual activity within a monogamous marriage relationship (vs. 3-4), he does recognize that there is some value in a husband or wife abstaining from sexual activity for various, albeit limited, seasons of time. He issues the qualified word, “Do not withhold sexual intercourse from one another, unless you agree to do so for a time in order to devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again. You must not let Satan tempt you through incontinence” (Moffat New Testament). A period of abstinence, and its duration, must be agreed upon by both husband and wife. This is represented by the clause ek sumphōnou, the term sumphōnos meaning, “agreeing in sound, in unison” (LS),[405] and also being the origin of our English term “symphony.”

Paul recognized the futility of a lack of sexual intercourse within a monogamous marriage relationship, a kind of “celibacy within marriage.” In a city like Ancient Corinth for sure, one spouse practicing abstinence with another having unfulfilled sexual needs, could very easily have led to a spouse seeking sexual fulfillment elsewhere. A period of abstinence, for prayer and spiritual pursuits, is only useful for a limited season—a season agreed upon by both husband and wife. This would be a season necessarily extending beyond the Torah prescriptions about abstaining from sexual intercourse during a woman’s menstruation cycle (Leviticus 18:19).

There is a Biblical basis for people to abstain from sexual intercourse prior to distinct encounters with God, such as the command from Moses, “Be ready for the third day; do not go near a woman” (Exodus 19:15). It is witnessed in Jewish literature from the Second Temple period, how abstinence from sexual intercourse, as well as various forms of fasting, were connected to periods of dynamically encountering God, dedicated to prayer, and focused study of the Scriptures:

“But, in the first place, before assuming that office, it was necessary for him to purify not only his soul but also his body, so that it should be connected with and defiled by no passion, but should be pure from everything which is of a mortal nature, from all meat and drink, and from all connection with women. And this last thing, indeed, he had despised for a long time, and almost from the first moment that he began to prophesy and to feel a divine inspiration, thinking that it was proper that he should at all times be ready to give his whole attention to the commands of God. And how he neglected all meat and drink for forty days together, evidently because he had more excellent food than that in those contemplations with which he was inspired from above from heaven, by which also he was improved in the first instance in his mind, and, secondly, in his body, through his soul, increasing in strength and health both of body and soul, so that those who saw him afterwards could not believe that he was the same person” (Philo Life of Moses 2.68-69).[406]

“There is a time for having intercourse with one’s wife, and a time to abstain for the purpose of prayer” (Testament of Naphtali 8:8).[407]

“He who takes a vow not to have sexual relations with his wife—the House of Shammai say, ‘[He may allow this situation to continue] for two weeks.’ And the House of Hillel say, ‘For one week.’ Disciples go forth for Torah study without [the wife’s] consent for thirty days” (m.Ketuvot 5:6).[408]

The Apostle Paul recognized that periods of abstinence, between husband and wife, could only work for short periods of time, as biological urges would get the better of one of them. Once again, though, what cannot go overlooked is how Paul directs that both husband and wife had to agree together on a period of sexual abstinence. What would make this remarkable, is the frequent age difference that was present, with a much older husband having to often come to a consensus with a much younger wife. As Ciampa and Rosner describe,

“The egalitarian orientation of Paul’s instructions here is all the more remarkable in light of the discrepancy in ages between husbands and wives in the Roman world, with wives being significantly younger and less mature (and experienced) than their husbands. For a husband’s will to be dependent upon his younger wife’s agreement would be quite counterintuitive.”[409]

7:6 Paul has recognized the usefulness of a man and woman abstaining from sexual intercourse, for a designated season, so that they may press into God. But, Paul does not portray this as being a permanent condition, stating, “I tell you this not as an order, but simply as a permission” (Good News Bible). This is as far as he will go, in affirming some level of truth to the Corinthian slogan quoted in v. 1, “it is good for a man not to touch a woman.”

Richard B. Hays mentions how “The time-honored reading of this text sees Paul as grudgingly permitting marriage itself as a distasteful concession to the lusts of the flesh. In fact, however, it is some of the Corinthians who are seeking to renounce marriage and sexual intercourse, and it is Paul who insists in a robustly realistic way that sexual relations within marriage are normal and necessary.”[410] The text itself guides readers in the direction of human sexuality being something healthy and useful for marital intimacy and companionship. Hays goes on to later, to rightfully criticize, “the Roman Catholic Church’s later espousal of the nonbiblical idea that the purpose of marital intercourse is for procreation. Nothing could be further from Paul’s view.”[411] Indeed, Paul has a high value of sexual intercourse for a husband and wife.


47. If you believe that role distinctions for men and women in the home and church are rooted in God’s created order, why are you not as insistent about applying the rules everywhere in secular life as you are in the home and the church?

Seeing some of the strident claims that a fair majority of complementarians make on males leading in the family and the local assembly—with females sometimes a distant second—egalitarians widely do conclude that a double standard is present when such complementarians do not similarly insist that all leadership positions in society be occupied by males. Questions were certainly raised among many American evangelicals during the presidential election of 2008, when John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate. What would happen if a female—a professing conservative, evangelical Christian no less—became vice president of the United States, or even president? Could she lead as a female?

Piper and Grudem simply state in their 50 Crucial Questions,

“We believe the Bible makes clear that men should take primary responsibility for leadership in the home and that, in the church, the primary teaching and governing leadership should be given by spiritual men…However, when it comes to all the thousands of occupations and professions, with their endlessly varied structures of management, God has chosen not to be specific about which roles men and women should fill.”[412]

Egalitarians have a much easier time when approaching the issue of females in leadership positions. In the family and in the faith community, there is a level playing field for men and women. Husbands and wives should be co-leaders of the family, with the important decisions surely made by mutual consensus. In the assembly, there should be men and women present and represented within the leadership structure. It does no good for a local congregation to have an all-male leadership team. In terms of national leadership, or the leadership of major corporations and organizations, it is only natural for men and women to be present—as a state or national government is hardly composed of only males. Egalitarians have no issue—if they believe in females serving as co-leaders of their families, and both males and females together serving as leaders of the ekklēsia—for there to be qualified and able female leaders in other spheres of society, government, and business. Egalitarians would also, when being critical of those occupying any position of leadership, criticize on the basis of performance and not on the basis of gender.


48. How can a single Christian woman enter into the mystery of Christ and the church if she never experiences marriage?

In responding to this inquiry, all Piper and Grudem do is quote from an Elisabeth Elliot essay on “Virginity.”[413] Obviously, this question has probably pressed Paul’s statements in Ephesians 5:26-29 to an inappropriate level, where only married women can fully understand what is intended. More concerning to astute, observant readers, would be how throughout the whole of 50 Crucial Questions, Piper and Grudem have never once discussed the disposition of the unmarried. While Piper and Grudem rightly protest against homosexuality, and they laud the value of heterosexual marriage—there are scores of unmarried, heterosexual men and women in today’s Body of Messiah, perhaps more than at any other time in history.

Complementarians are broadly guilty of seeing that heterosexual, unmarried men and women, do not have much of a place in the faith community—frequently making the error of conflating spiritual maturity and marital status. This is not a mistake made by egalitarians, who stress the co-equalness of both the married and unmarried—even with both estates possessing their varied pros and cons. Complementarians are generally at a loss of what to do with the Apostle Paul’s instruction in 1 Corinthians 7:7-9:

“Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that. But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion” (NASU).

The following review of 1 Corinthians 7:7-9 is excerpted from the 2015 commentary 1 Corinthians for the Practical Messianic:

7:7 Because of various extremes that have manifested themselves in Roman Catholic history, which has required its clergy to make vows of celibacy, many evangelical Protestants—and a huge number of today’s Messianic people—have not widely appreciated Paul’s statement, “I wish that all people [pantas anthrōpous] were just like me. But each [heksatos] has his own gift from God, one person in this way and another in that way” (HCSB). Celibate singleness is indeed considered by the Apostle Paul to be a gift (charisma). Various interpreters will lean toward recognizing celibacy as being a unique gift, but one that is only allotted to a few. The Biblical reality is, however, that having a proper marriage, with husband and wife in mutual service and honor to one another, is also a gift. “[E]ach has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind” (NRSV). Celibate singleness and monogamy are both co-equal.

What is discussed in vs. 7-8 is not rooted in any kind of asceticism, where abstinence from sexual intercourse is designed to bring people closer to God or things spiritual. The Essenes, for example, were widely celibate (Josephus Wars of the Jews 2.120), for religious reasons. What is depicted, in the ministry of Paul, is instead a practical celibacy for men and women of God, where they can take the time and energy required for marriage and childrearing, and focus it toward greater levels of service for His Kingdom. It is widely recognized that the apostolic ministry of Paul, in the First Century Mediterranean, would have been impossible, if he had been married with children. David Prior states, “Paul was ‘the apostle to the Gentiles’ and that unique vocation required complete freedom to move unimpeded by interpersonal considerations, let alone responsibilities for a wife and family. He was also not the easiest of people to have as a colleague; he was impatient with those who could not work at his pace or failed to come up to his high expectations.”[414]

It has not been customary among evangelical Protestants to regard celibate singleness as a co-equal status alongside of monogamy, but it is instead viewed to be an infrequent exception. Leon Morris thinks that Paul “regards marriage as normal, and he will later make the point that, though there are some advantages in celibacy, there is a greater completeness in marriage (11:11). Celibacy requires a special gift from God.”[415] The view that a man or woman is “incomplete” until he or she marries, has been a widescale opinion present in evangelical Christianity since the 1980s for sure, and has doubtlessly affected the bulk of the Messianic movement, although it is hardly Biblical.

More even-handed positions are present among other 1 Corinthians commentators. Anthony C. Thielston is much fairer, describing some of the advantages and disadvantages of both celibate singleness and monogamy:

“[T]he parallel is not celibacy versus marriage, but the gift of a positive attitude which makes the most of the freedoms of celibacy without frustration, and the positive attitude which caringly provides the responsibilities, intimacies, love, and ‘dues’ of marriage while equally living out the gospel. Either state offers rewards or frustrations, depending on varied attitudes, varied situations, and varied gifts.”[416]

Craig Blomberg, who would be more reflective of the customary valuing of monogamy over celibate singleness for today’s evangelical Christians, does recognize how there is no explicit mandate for one to “be married.” He also draws attention to how there are responsibilities that both have, such as the celibate actually abstaining from unmarried sexual intercourse, and the married not shirking the attention they must give to a spouse and children. He summarizes,

“Like other gifts, the gift of singleness may last only for a time. On the other hand, we may seek after the gift of marriage but not obtain it. Yet singleness and marriage are not quite the same as some of the other gifts because they also include obligations on believers that are not optional. No one, for example, may excuse premarital sex by claiming not to have the gift of celibacy! If people are unmarried, they must refrain from sexual intercourse whether they feel like it or not.”[417]

A figure like the Apostle Paul was definitely a non-conformist, in lauding his celibate singleness, as such would not be too socially expedient for most men in Second Temple Judaism. Gordon D. Fee indicates, “marriage was the rule in Judaism, both expected and at times thought to be commanded.”[418] An admonition witnessed in the Mishnah directs, “A man should not give up having sexual relations unless he has children…The man is required to be fruitful and multiply but not the woman” (m.Yevamot 6:6).[419] An even more extreme view is seen in the Talmud, “Said R. Eleazar, ‘Any man who has no wife is no man: “Male and female created he them and called their name Adam” (Gen. 5:2)’” (b.Yevamot 63a).[420] Strong criticism is present against those who were not married after twenty: “Said Raba, and so did a Tannaite authority of the household of R. Ishmael: ‘Until someone is twenty years old, the Holy One, blessed be He, sits and looks forward to when a man will marry a wife. But once he reaches the age of twenty and has not married, he says, “Blast be his bones”’” (b.Kiddushin 29b).[421]

One does encounter, in the Tosefta, the single rabbi who wanted to focus on his studies: “What shall I do? My soul thirsts after Torah. Let other people keep the world going” (t.Yevamot 8:7).[422] But, it was only the impotent men in the Jewish community who were believed to be exempt from marriage (m.Niddah 5:9).[423]

Interestingly enough, Ben Witherington III brings out how Paul’s valuing of celibate singleness, as a co-equal status to monogamy, would run contrary to some Roman social norms as well:

“In Roman Corinth, one who advocated singleness as a better state than marriage would hardly be seen as one who was baptizing the status quo. Some emperors, especially Augustus, had done all they could to encourage Romans to marry and have many children. Augustus even put into law penalties on women who remained unmarried too long after being widowed.”[424]

Contrary to what society may have thought, Paul viewed his celibacy as a significant gift from God, as he saw celibacy as being a useful means by which he could accomplish the maximum amount of work as possible for God’s Kingdom (v. 32). But, quite contrary to what Roman Catholicism later concluded from his words, Paul never emphasized that leaders and teachers in the Body of Messiah must be celibate. Of course, some have interpreted, wrongly, that elders and deacons must be married (cf. 1 Timothy 3:2, 12; Titus 1:6), when these are better taken as depicting what a family is to look like when an elder or deacon is married (not to mention how the Pastoral Epistles are rightly approached as letters regulating the circumstances in Ephesus and on Crete, and not universal circumstances for the Body of Messiah at all times).[425] Marriage is not required for leadership in the Body of Messiah, as Paul’s own life, and the example of many other First Century leaders—the foremost being Yeshua the Messiah Himself—demonstrate.

While among contemporary Christian people today, celibate singleness is viewed as being more the exception than the norm, Paul presents it as something that more people should be quite open to considering. This is not because single people are closer to God than married people, as much as it is a need for an undivided commitment to the interests of God. Yet, David E. Garland is entirely right to interject, “If remaining single is driven by selfish concerns—for example, to use it as a yardstick to measure one’s imagined spiritual status or to gain independence from any obligations to a spouse—it no longer can be regarded as a gift.”[426] Paul can be presented as an ideal model for celibate singleness, given the congregations he planted throughout the Mediterranean, and the body of writing he produced. While contemporary Protestantism has not too often valued celibate singleness, commentators like Richard B. Hays make some points that need to be heard more frequently:

“Most Protestant churches, historically in reaction against the Catholic imposition of mandatory clerical celibacy, have come to regard the unmarried state as aberrant and unhealthy. This tendency has been reinforced by powerful forces in popular culture that insinuate the idea that human wholeness is possible only through sexual relationships…Paul argues that for many people it is better to remain unmarried—not because sex is dirty or wrong, but because the single life allows Christians the freedom and flexibility to serve God without distractions.”[427]

7:8 Paul issues the personal directive, “But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they abide even as I” (PME). Some have taken tois agamois kai tais chērais in the direction of the first group, labeled agamos, to speak of male widowers.[428] Perhaps more important to recognize, would be the factors in First Century history which would have pressured people to marry or remarry. As Thiselton describes, “Pressures on both men and women to remarry were imposed by four considerations: issues about acquiring property; the procreation of not less than three children; the use of marriage (or remarriage) to enhance status; and the low life-expectancy of women (‘twenty to thirty years’), especially connected with instances of death in childbirth.”[429] The Apostle Paul, lauding the value of celibate singleness, ran contrary to what would have been expected of many people.

Paul would view marriage as being a gift, just as he would view celibacy as a gift (v. 7). Those, who commit themselves to a marriage relationship, should see that their relationship and service to God is enhanced, not that they have taken on a substantial liability. Unfortunately, history bears out myriads of examples of people who have gotten married for all the wrong reasons, many of which involve fulfilling the expectations imposed by others—not those necessarily required or expected by God and His Word. My own paternal grandfather remarried within a year of my grandmother’s death (1961), because he believed that my father needed a “mother.” He and this new wife were constantly at odds with one another, she was a heavy drinker, and as he was dying seventeen years later (1978) the two of them were actually in divorce proceedings.

What about Paul’s personal disposition? The record of Acts 26:10[430] is supportive of Paul having once been a member of the Sanhedrin, the members of which most probably had to be married men (b.Sanhedrin 36b).[431] Various interpreters do think that Paul had actually been widowed, but then others have interjected that as a result of his coming to Messiah faith, that Paul’s wife had left him. Then again, given Paul’s superlative Jewish observance (Galatians 1:14; Philippians 3:6), Paul could very well have been celibate his entire life, with Jewish religious leaders recognizing how his skills as a student did not need the complications of a wife and children.

V. 8 is the first of five places in this chapter (vs. 8, 11, 20, 24, 40) where the verb menō is employed. Virtually all modern Bibles translate this as “remain,” although noted by Vine as “‘to stay, abide,’ is frequently rendered ‘to remain,’”[432] and by Mounce and Mounce as mainly being “abide, await; remain; stay; wait for.”[433] AMG also notes how menō can be used in various contexts “to remain in something which is equivalent to remaining steadfast, persevering in it.”[434] For any of the different circumstances in life Paul will detail, does he see these as all being permanent statuses, never to be changed? If he did, then he would never have advised for the slave to take an opportunity for freedom when made available (v. 21). The older rendering of menō as “abide” (KJV, American Standard Version) has the advantage of representing the different statuses in ch. 7 as not being permanent and unalterable. If, during the course of Paul’s own life, where the Lord directed circumstances and made it clear that He wanted him settled in a particular location, focus on some different ministry work, and have a wife and a family—then Paul would have surely have recognized his statement “It is good for them if they abide even as I” (American Standard Version) as representing his celibate singleness for an elongated season.

One does not ever see in the record of Scripture or early Christian writings, the Apostle Paul ever get married and raise a family. Paul definitely followed totally through on his word, “to those who are unmarried or widowed, I say definitely that it is a good thing to remain unattached, as I am” (Phillips New Testament). And indeed, Yeshua Himself directed His Disciples, “For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it” (Matthew 19:12). Some people are just not supposed to be married, ever, because the needs of God’s Kingdom are that pressing.

Paul will later acknowledge how there were other Apostles, like Peter, who were married, and even brought along their wives. He raised the rhetorical point, “Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?” (9:5). The sterner reality is that marriage is not a right or an entitlement for God’s people, but is instead a luxury and a privilege. Not everyone gets a husband or wife or children. Paul’s word about properly abiding in a state of celibate singleness should be appreciated by many of today’s sincere Believers, because in the Twenty-First Century there are many reasons for people to not be considering marriage. The foremost of these reasons would be the high divorce rate in the so-called Christian West, as over half of today’s marriages do not succeed.

7:9 Paul did recognize that for many of his Corinthian audience, the commitment to abide celibate was not going to be possible, and so he does say, “But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion” (RSV). The verb egkrateuomai means, “to keep one’s emotions, impulses, or desires under control, control oneself, abstain” (BDAG),[435] the related noun egkrateia appearing among the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:23. Paul will observe in further correspondence, “Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?” (2 Corinthians 11:29).

V. 9 is commonly approached from the perspective of the young person who cannot control his or her (although more frequently his) sexual urges, and needs to be married so that sexual temptation does not lead to promiscuity. Fee offers a different vantage point, stating, “Paul is not so much offering marriage as the remedy for the sexual desire of ‘enflamed youth,’ which is the most common way of viewing the text, but as the proper alternative for those who are already consumed by that desire and are sinning.”[436] Prior is more reflective of the frequent, evangelical Christian approach:

“He is arguing like this: the best situation (his own) is that of the unmarried person who is under no pressure to marry. The next best is the person who must physically express his sexuality and does so within marriage. The least desirable is the person who needs marriage as a means of expressing his sexuality, but is compelled (or tries very hard) to do without it.”[437]

A reappreciation of Paul’s statements in vs. 7-9 is certainly in order. Today, given the high divorce rate among (claiming) Christian people—some of which has been caused by people feeling pressured to get married, and not enough Christian leaders emphasizing the value of celibate singleness—it is fair to say that the institution of marriage is not what it was. In various ways, marriage has become to the contemporary Body of Messiah, not unlike how the Saddusaical occupants of the Levitical priesthood, in league with the Romans, had corrupted a holy institution that God Himself had established.[438] Contrary to popular belief, the Bible knows no such language of every man and every woman being predestined some kind of “soul mate.” The Bible certainly does not teach that a man or woman is to find “fulfillment” in a spouse; a person’s fulfillment is to come from God, not another mortal. There is no explicit command from God that every individual must marry.

Celibate singleness is not an estate that you will find too highly valued by today’s Messianic people as it should be. In order to take Paul’s words in vs. 7-9 more seriously, today’s Messianic movement will need to collectively jettison errant and non-Biblical ideas where married persons are viewed as being more spiritually mature than the unmarried. We will need to recognize the Biblical reality that both the married and celibate estates are co-equal and co-blessed by the Lord. Both of them do come with their advantages and disadvantages.

There have been some consequences of evangelical, mostly complementarian Christians, placing marriage on a pedestal—which has affected a broad selection of Messianic thinking. In wanting to emphasize marriage and sex within marriage as a rightful answer to combat premarital sex and promiscuity—one group of Believers has been decidedly left in the “lurch.” Probably a third of contemporary Believers in their twenties and thirties are not married, for a variety of legitimate circumstances: educational, economic, and professional. These are committed Believers who are celibate, and many do not desire marriage because of the high risk of divorce. Evangelical egalitarians have rightfully recognized that these people need not be socially eschewed, or excluded from the congregation, because of their single status—even though they can frequently feel left out precisely because of their single status.[439] Messiah faith is not a faith only for the “married”; Messiah faith is for all human beings.

Both my sister and I, at two different Messianic congregations, can testify in our experience of being discriminated against for being single (2012, 2014). We were both involved in young professionals groups, which included congregational attendees in their twenties and thirties, some of whom were married, and many others who were singles. The leaders of these groups were both unmarried when coordinating events. As soon as both of these leaders got married, the focus of these groups shifted exclusively to the married couples, with the singles having to fend for themselves. Among the many different factors at work would have been a failure to not appreciate Paul’s statements in 1 Corinthians 7:7-9.


49. Since many leading evangelical scholars disagree on the questions of manhood and womanhood, how can any laypersons even hope to come to a clear conviction on these questions?

Any layperson who has sat down with his or her pastor, or a Bible teacher, or even a seminary professor—tends to have some cursory recognition of how there are issues in theology and spirituality which seem to be simple, but are actually complicated. Complementarians and egalitarians, while having their (strong) disagreements over men and women in the Body of Messiah, have both widely and deeply thought about the various Bible passages and related subjects of importance, for their positions. As complementarians, Piper and Grudem are fair in their following conclusion:

“Serious students of the Bible must walk a fine line between two dangers. On the one side is the oversimplification of the process of interpretation that neglects the disciplines of historical and grammatical study. On the other side is the temptation to pull rank on laypeople and emphasize inaccessible data and complicated contextual problems so much that they despair of confident understanding.”[440]

They note the presence of 2 Peter 3:16 and how a figure like the Apostle Paul is said to have “some things hard to understand,” as well as the sure word, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). Piper and Grudem are fair to emphasize, “We do not want to discourage any serious layperson with the thought that the usefulness of Scripture is out of his or her reach.”[441] Those who have received a formal theological education, and are a bit more informed as to the different dimensions and components of the ongoing debates over women in ministry, need to strive as best as possible to not be patronizing or condescending to others who are not so informed. Regardless of whether one is complementarian or egalitarian, there are Hebrew and Greek issues, translation issues, historical background issues, perspective issues, and experiential issues among Believers—which all play a part in one’s deliberations.

Unfortunately, too many of us have been subjected to overly-simplistic or overly-emotional teachings, as they involve men and women in the Body of Messiah. Complementarians can be guilty of taking an English version of the Bible, quoting a passage, and then making an imperative remark such as “This is irrefutable.” For some reason or another, consulting other English versions, the Hebrew or Greek source text, or some differing viewpoints or opinions, was not thought to be too necessary. Egalitarians, knowing that they will be challenging some traditional positions, do tend to rightly focus on original language issues, historical background, and presenting some different viewpoints. At the same time, egalitarians can have difficulty keeping some of their emotions in check. Many who have crossed the aisle from complementarianism to egalitarianism, did so precisely because the former did not answer their questions, and may have also been abusive to them in some way. As tough as it is, one’s experience—however useful or important it may be at times—needs to not be the primary factor in one’s spiritual quest.

Those of us who have been trained as leaders and Bible teachers, need to not make the ongoing discussions and debates over men and women, be something that laypeople cannot follow. We should not tolerate simplistic teachings about the issue, but nor should be permit unbridled emotionalism. We should each facilitate—as with any controversial issue—a conversational approach, which seeks stability and allows reason to prevail. Patience on the part of someone who is familiar with linguistic or philosophical nuances is going to be required. If one is in a congregational environment where more and more people are moving toward an egalitarian view, then discussions would need to facilitate gradual change among those who are skeptical, hesitant, or resistant—rather than a dramatic change which may cause unnecessary divisions and splits.


50. If a group of texts is hotly disputed, wouldn’t it be a good principle of interpretation not to allow them any significant influence over our view of manhood and womanhood? Similarly, since there is significant disagreement in the church over the issue of men’s and women’s roles, should we not view this as having a very low level of importance in defining denominational, institutional, and congregational standards of belief and practice?

Today as we are approaching the third decade of the Twenty-First Century, the avoidance of any text of Scripture—which one knows is “hotly disputed”—is irresponsible. Many of the most significant issues facing the contemporary Body of Messiah—women in ministry being one of the most important—cannot be addressed by not being addressed. All of us are likely aware of various congregations or assemblies where certain issues are considered “off limits,” and men and women in the Body of Messiah might be one of them. Even though as an egalitarian, I do not agree with all of the positions of John Piper or Wayne Grudem in their publication 50 Crucial Questions, they have discussed their complementarian position, and engaged to some degree with various egalitarian arguments. They close their resource with some of the following observations:

“Aside from setting aside disputed texts, this would be a bad principle of interpretation. First, almost every text about precious and important things is disputed in some way and by some Christians. Never in history has there been so much pluralism under the banner of the Bible as there is today. Second, imagine what it would mean if we took no stand on things because they were disputed. It would make Satan’s aim to mislead us much easier.”[442]

Piper and Grudem are correct, in noting that today, there is “so much pluralism under the banner of the Bible.” Consequently, whether one holds to a complementarian or egalitarian philosophy involving men and women and their leadership roles and responsibilities—as a simple matter of information, the situation today demands that spiritual leaders and teachers be prepared to discuss the issue! This should particularly involve older people in one’s local assembly not being so rigid or inflexible, so that the perspectives of younger people are dismissed and they end up leaving because they do not believe that some of their concerns have been heard.

Both complementarian and egalitarian readers of Holy Scripture, have their different passages of importance. For complementarians, such passages may include: 1 Corinthians 11:2-16; 14:33b-36; Ephesians 5:22-24; 1 Timothy 2:8-15; and 1 Peter 3:1-6. For egalitarians, such passages may include: Genesis 1:26-28; Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 5:21, 30; Philippians 2:4; and significant examples of females serving the ekklēsia in the First Century C.E. The importance and meaning of these passages and many others, as well as various related issues, will continue to be a dispute in evangelical Protestantism for some time. Piper and Grudem are not incorrect in stressing how disagreement over an issue does not make it unimportant:

“[A]s to the matter of ‘significant disagreement in the church over the issues of men’s and women’s roles,’ we need to realize that significant disagreement in the church does not mean that the issue at stake is unimportant. The history of doctrinal controversy teaches us that very important matters (as well as less important ones) have been the subject of serious controversy. In fact, the length and intensity of a controversy may be evidence of an issue’s importance, not of its unimportance.”[443]

The issue of men and women in today’s Body of Messiah, in evangelical Protestantism, is something that affects each and every person who looks to the Holy Scriptures for answers. Theologians like Piper and Grudem, and their colleagues in organizations such as the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, do not consider egalitarian people to be “unsaved.” They have at least said in their publication 50 Crucial Questions, “We are far from doubting the genuine Christian standing of evangelical feminists [sic].”[444] Supporters of an egalitarian philosophy of co-leadership of husbands and wives in the home, co-leadership of men and women in the congregation, and an ideology of mutual submission (Ephesians 5:21) should leave the salvation status of complementarians to the One God of Creation. For ultimately, what we are debating, is the effectiveness of the Kingdom of Heaven manifest on Planet Earth.

Each position holds to different trajectories of Scripture, even though each claims to restore Believers back to whatever was lost at the Fall in Eden. But only egalitarianism can be said to be an ideology that wants to see all of the gifts and talents and skills of born again men and women released for the purposes of the Kingdom of God.

Complementarianism, Egalitarianism, and Messianics

Our discussion, going through 50 Crucial Questions, did not include all of the components of men and women in the Body of Messiah today. Indeed, there are dozens of new books being written every year on complementarianism and egalitarianism, debates that exist among certain theologians, where they agree, where they disagree, how those of both sides can cooperate, why they cannot get along, etc. It is very daunting to try to stay up with this issue—an issue which will not be one-hundred percent resolved until the Messiah returns.

Our analysis has purposefully limited itself to the issues of co-leadership in the home, between a husband and wife, and the issues of co-leadership and teaching in the assembly, among men and women. I trust that my review of Piper and Grudem was fair, and for those who have looked to complementarian theologians like them, you have at least seen that there are principled egalitarian examiners out there—who far from being radical, liberal “feminists,” instead want to see men and women in today’s Body of Messiah genuinely encouraged to serve the interests of God’s Kingdom.

For sure, there are issues involving co-leadership that need to be considered and evaluated by the different parties involved. How should a husband and wife jointly agree on their responsibilities to one another, and to their children? How do such responsibilities involve the economic needs of the family, and who works, who does not work, or how both spouses work? What are the sexual expectations of a husband and wife toward one another? While it is true that there are husbands and men who often refuse to lead, it is also true that there are husbands and men who are domineering and autocratic toward their wives and women in general. What does a local assembly do, which has supporters of both complementarianism and egalitarianism? How can appropriate reforms and changes to existing structures be implemented?

It should also not go unnoticed how this analysis of 50 Crucial Questions has principally been focused on evangelical Protestantism, and what various Christian examiners and leaders have been saying and debating. We have reviewed the various defenses offered for evangelical complementarianism, with an evangelical egalitarian appreciation, but also with a distinct Messianic framework peering in. While it is to be acknowledged how today’s still-developing, emerging, and maturing Messianic movement is broadly complementarian, those who are Messianic and egalitarian need to be familiar with the debate as seen in evangelical Protestantism. For, only with a good handle on how this issue has been approached by contemporary Christians, can we then be able to navigate some of the Messianic movement’s own, unique, homespun challenges involving men and women.


[329] Piper and Grudem, 51.

[330] Ibid., 53.

[331] Ibid., pp 53-54.

[332] Ibid., 54.

[333] Ibid., pp 54-55.

[334] Craig L. Blomberg, “Women in Ministry: A Complementarian Perspective,” in James R. Beck, ed., Two Views on Women in Ministry (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), pp 123-184.

[335] Piper and Grudem, pp 55-56.

[336] Ibid., 57.

[337] Ibid.

[338] Ibid., pp 57-58.

[339] Ibid., 58.

[340] Ibid., pp 58-61.

[341] BDAG, 378.

[342] BDAG, 480; also Philip W. Comfort, New Testament Text and Translation Commentary (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 2008), 476.

[343] F.W. Gingrich, “Junias,” in IDB, 2:1026-1027.

[344] S.F. Hunter, “Junias,” in ISBE, 2:1165.

[345] Peter Lampe, “Junias,” in ABD, 3:1127.

[346] Bonnie Thurston, “Junia,” in EDB, pp 756-757.

[347] The ISR Scriptures (1998/2009), a Sacred Name Bible which will be seen from time to time within the broad Messianic community, uses the masculine “Junias.”

[348] C.E.B. Cranfield, International Critical Commentary: Romans 9-16 (London: T&T Clark, 1979), 788.

[349] F.F. Bruce, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: Romans (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985), 258.

[350] James D.G. Dunn, Word Biblical Commentary: Romans, Vol. 38b. (Dallas: Word Books, 1988), 38b:894.

[351] James R. Edwards, New International Biblical Commentary: Romans (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1992), pp 355-356.

[352] John R.W. Stott, The Message of Romans (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1994), 396.

[353] Douglas J. Moo, New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), pp 921-924.

[354] Grant R. Osborne, IVP New Testament Commentary Series: Romans (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2004), pp 406-407.

[355] Ben Witherington III, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Historical Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004), pp 387-390.

[356] Craig S. Keener, New Covenant Commentary Series: Romans (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2009), 186.

[357] Colin G. Kruse, Pillar New Testament Commentary: Paul’s Letter to the Romans (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012), pp 563-565.

[358] Consult the perspective represented by Scot McKnight, Junia Is Not Alone: Breaking Our Silence About Women in the Bible and the Church Today (Englewood, CO: Patheos Press, 2011).

[359] A Messianic version like the TLV, seemingly follows the ESV in this regard: “who are well known among the shlichim.”

The Delitzsch Hebrew NT rendered apostolois as shlichim.

[360] T.R. Schreiner, “The Letter of Paul to the Romans,” in Wayne Grudem, ed., ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008), 2184.

[361] Cf. Moo, Romans, 923.

[362] “Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means” (Luke 8:3).

[363] Witherington, Romans, 388.

[364] N.T. Wright, “The Letter to the Romans,” in Leander E. Keck, ed. et. al., New Interpreter’s Bible (Nashville: Abingdon, 2002), 10:395-770., 10:762.

[365] Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, 439.

[366] Tim Hegg, Paul’s Epistle to the Romans: Chapters 9-16 (Tacoma, WA: TorahResource, 2007), 449.

[367] Piper and Grudem, 62.

[368] Zodhiates, Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, 1166.

[369] LS, 643.

[370] Piper and Grudem, 63.

[371] Ibid.

[372] Ibid., pp 64-65.

[373] Ibid., 65.

[374] Ibid., 64.

[375] Ibid., pp 65-67.

[376] Ibid., 67.

[377] Owen Strachan. (2015). City Church and the Affirmation-only Gospel. The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Retrieved 28 October, 2015, from <>.

[378] The only major resource I have seemingly found by egalitarians directly addressing whether an acceptance of females as leaders and teachers within the assembly, will inevitably facilitate homosexual acceptance, is: Catherine Clark Kroeger. “Does Belief in Women’s Equality Lead to an Acceptance of Homosexual Practice?” Priscilla Papers Vol. 18, No. 2, Spring 2004.

[379] Consult the FAQ entries on the Messianic Apologetics website, “Romans 1:26-27” and “1 Corinthians 6:9.”

[380] Some of this is detailed, in various degrees, in Rachel Held Evans, A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master” (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2012).

[381] Michael L. Brown, Can You Be Gay and Christian? (Lake Mary, FL: FrontLine, 2014), 75.

I regard Brown as a soft complementarian, as previously in Ibid., 74 he speaks in terms of, “husbands are called to be heads of their homes, but the biblical model is one of responsibility and care, not oppression or abuse.”

I consider the term kephalē to involve “source, origin” (BibleWorks 9.0: LSJM Lexicon (Unabridged)), and not the more customary framework of it being “leader” or “authority.” Consult the FAQ on the Messianic Apologetics website, “Male Headship.”

[382] Piper and Grudem, pp 68-69.

[383] Ibid., 69.

[384] Ibid.

[385] BDAG, 883.

[386] Zodhiates, Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, 1234.

[387] Piper and Grudem, pp 70-71.

[388] Carl Schultz, “azar,” in TWOT, 2:661.

[389] Piper and Grudem, 73.

[390] Alice Mathews, Gender Roles and the People of God: Rethinking What We Were Taught about Men and Women in the Church (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2017), 39.

[391] Piper and Grudem, 73.

[392] Ibid., 74.

[393] Ibid., 75.

[394] Ibid.

[395] Brown and Comfort, 592.

[396] The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged, pp 597, 605.

[397] The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged, 607.

[398] Prior, 116.

[399] Ciampa and Rosner, 268.

[400] BDAG, 353.

[401] Witherington, 1 and 2 Corinthians, 175.

[402] Consult especially the observations provided in the author’s commentary Ephesians for the Practical Messianic.

[403] Fee, 1 Corinthians, 280.

[404] Sampley, in NIB, 10:873.

[405] LS, 765.

[406] The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged, 497.

[407] Kee, “Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs,” in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Vol 1, 814.

[408] Neusner, Mishnah, 388.

[409] Ciampa and Rosner, 282.

[410] Hays, 117.

[411] Ibid., 131.

[412] Piper and Grudem, 76.

[413] Ibid., pp 76-77.

[414] Prior, 120.

[415] Morris, 101.

[416] Thiselton, pp 513-514.

[417] Blomberg, 137.

[418] Fee, 1 Corinthians, 275 fn#36.

[419] Neusner, Mishnah, 352.

[420] The Babylonian Talmud: A Translation and Commentary.

[421] Ibid.

[422] Jacob Neusner, ed., The Tosefta: Translated from the Hebrew With a New Introduction, 2 vols. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002), 1:713.

[423] “A boy twenty years old who has not produced two pubic hairs—let him bring evidence that he is twenty years old, and he is declared a eunuch” (m.Niddah 5:9; Neusner, Mishnah, 1085).

[424] Witherington, 1 and 2 Corinthians, 174.

[425] For a further review, consult the author’s commentary The Pastoral Epistles for the Practical Messianic.

[426] Garland, 272.

[427] Hays, pp 132, 133.

[428] Fee, 1 Corinthians, 288; Hays, 118; Sampley, in NIB, 10:874.

[429] Thiselton, pp 515-516.

[430] “And this is just what I did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, but also when they were being put to death I cast my vote against them” (Acts 26:10).

[431]For it has been taught on Tannaite authority: The eunuch and one who has never had children are [T.: suitable for judging property cases but are not suitable for judging capital cases] not to be seated on a Sanhedrin” (b.Sanhedrin 36b; The Babylonian Talmud: A Translation and Commentary).

Garland, 277 expresses doubt on whether this was a hard and fast rule for the First Century.

[432] W.E. Vine, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1968), 521.

[433] Mounce and Mounce, 1112.

[434] Zodhiates, Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, 960.

[435] BDAG, 274.

[436] Fee, 1 Corinthians, 289.

[437] Prior, 121.

[438] Consult the relevant sections of the author’s commentary Hebrews for the Practical Messianic.

[439] Among the very few articles I have encountered on this, include the highly useful:

Kate Wallace, “The (Single) Christian Life.” Mutuality: the voice of Christians for Biblical Equality Autumn 2014; Vicki Scheib, “Single and Married: Bridging the Identity Divide” in Ibid.; Katie Driver, “That They May Be One,” in Ibid.; Claire Bonner, “Are We Family…Or Are We?” in Ibid.

[440] Piper and Grudem, pp 77-78.

[441] Ibid., 78.

[442] Ibid., pp 79-80.

[443] Ibid., 81.

[444] Ibid., pp 78-79.

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