Neither Male Nor Female: Guide
8.22.21 ONE Message Series Acts 2:14-21; 1 Corinthians 14:26-35; 1 Timothy 2:1-15
Neither Male Nor Female
“I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy . . .” (Acts 2:17).
The Bible is remarkable for the dignity given women in patriarchal cultures. Women are not only prominent in the biblical narrative (e.g., Sarah, Ruth, Esther) but also were prophets (Huldah, Deborah, Anna), worship leaders (Miriam, tabernacle assistants), and even one of Israel’s Judges (Deborah). All this happened in a Near Eastern Culture where patriarchy reigned supreme. Far more males than females fill Israel’s leadership positions. That there were any females at all stands out as remarkable. In the NT, women have even greater freedom in Christ.
In the life and ministry of Jesus, what do you recall about his interactions with women? Would any of this have been unusual for his time and place? What do you make of it?
Today’s sermons focused on two texts that are always discussed in dealing with this topic. Before looking at those in more detail, it should be emphasized that there are many behind-the-scenes roles that women (and men!) have always filled in churches that should never be overlooked. Here are a few that are affirmed in the NT: Husband-wife teaching teams (Acts 18:2,18,26); hosts to house churches (Acts 12:12; 16:15,40; 1 Cor 16:19; Col 4:15); ministry to the poor (Acts 9:36ff); rearing children to know God in homes without male believers (2 Tim 1:5); managing the life of the family unit (1 Tim 5:14).
The question put to Christian communities in first and 21st centuries is about female leadership in the public life of the church. Paul makes it clear that women were free to use their gifts in the assemblies.
· Phoebe was a “deacon” from Cenchreae (a port town to Corinth) who appears to have delivered Paul letter to Rome. The typical duty of someone delivering a letter to a church or other group would be to read it aloud to the church and answer questions over its contents / Rom 16:1-2
· At Corinth, women prayed and prophesied before the church – with appropriate decorum that required a “head covering” when doing so / 1 Cor 11:4
· What do you understand the circumstance of “silence” at 14:34 to mean? Is this a universal rule?
In 1 Timothy 2, Paul is concerned about decorum and order in the church at Ephesus.
· What do you know of the religious culture of Ephesus and the worship of Artemis in that city?
· What problems would this background culture have created for a Christian community?
· What is the “quietness and full submission” envisioned in vs.11-12? Would the same thing be required of men as well as women? Both then and now?
As you end your study time, pray for God to grant you insight into these challenging passages from the New Testament. Pray for us to know how to implement their teaching in our time and place.