Now and Zens [4]

Seriously now – where were we? We started here with the broad strokes of this paper, and in parts 2 and 3, we started in with the specific detail.

What is evident so far, it seems to me, is that the objective of the laundry list of Scripture Pastor Zens has provided to us in the first 2 or 3 pages of this paper were intended to underscore how women were empowered in the apostolic church to be leaders, therefore setting up the historical context of what Paul was telling Timothy, but sadly, so far, these examples do nothing of the sort. Instead what we find is a sort of out-of-focus picture of the events Pastor Zens points to which only causes us to ask why he would read these passages the way he does.

We'll clean up his list today briefly as they are type of previous statements he has already made.
**Among all the people Paul greeted in Romans 16, ten were sisters among whom were “Tryphena and Tryphosa [who may have been twins], women who work hard for the Lord” (Rom.16:12).
Who denies women "work hard for the Lord"? Who denies they ought to? It seems to me again that this statement is called upon to exemplify more than it either can or should, as does the following:
**In line with Acts 2:17-18, Paul encouraged brothers and sisters to prophesy in the gatherings (1 Cor.11:4-5; 14:23-24).

**The open meeting Paul described in 1 Cor.14 envisioned all the men and women – “the whole assembly” – “each one of you” – “you may all prophesy one by one” – functioning together in an encouraging manner.
Without any doubt, the gift of prophecy was exemplified in the NT church. The question is whether anyone who prophesied is identified by the NY as necessarily a leader or pastor of the church. They are not.
**Gal.3:28 indicated that “in Christ” human distinctions, like male and female, are no longer norms of judgment in the congregation. In the first century, prejudices abounded in folks’ minds when certain people like “Gentile,” “Jew,” “slave,” and “woman” were mentioned. Paul stated that in the body of Christ this should not be the case.
Give Paul's other exhortations about the roles of men and women – for example, in marriage (Eph 5) – perhaps Pastor Zens mistakes what is at stake in Gal 3. The question is not about whether there are sexual differences, yes? But the question is also not about whether there are practical or ecclesiastical differences between men and women. The question Paul is answering here in Gal 3 is whether or not only a Jew with circumcision can be saved. The passage reads thus:
    Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.
He is saying that the inheritance of faith comes not just to sons, and not just to sons of Abraham, but to all people without respect to whether they are a man, woman, Greek, slave or whatever.

Paul's point is not that the differences between men and women are somehow effaced: it is that salvation in Christ is not just for one class of people.
**Women were prominent in the assembly at Philippi, beginning with Lydia’s home. In Phil.4:3 Paul asked for two sisters – who must have had no small spiritual influence in the body – to be at peace with one another. He called Euodia and Syntyche “co-workers” and “co-strugglers” in the gospel.
How is this assumption of their "spiritual influence" derived? What's the evidence? It seems to me that the only plausible thing to say here is that they were having some kind of influence, and that was a result of their conflicts. The assumption that their labor was leadership is simply that: an assumption, not a necessary implication of the text.
**2 John is addressed to “the elect lady and her children.” This probably referred to a respected sister in whose home the saints gathered. She had apparently exerted significant spiritual influence upon a number of people. Women’s homes were mentioned as meeting places for the brethren in Rom.16:5, 1 Cor.1:11, 16:9 and Col.4:15.
No question: people met in homes in the first-generation church. No question: some of those homes belonged to or were stewarded by women. Does this make women leaders in the church? Again Zens draws the inference that it does, but this conclusion is simply not warranted. There's nothing to support it.
**In Rev.2:20-24 Christ rebuked the Thyatiran congregation for allowing a false prophetess, nicknamed “Jezebel,” to “teach” some of the Lord’s servants to sin grievously. If it was such a crime for a woman to teach the brethren, why didn’t the Lord just condemn the assembly for even allowing a woman to instruct others? This incident in Thyatira implies that the assembly permitted other male and female prophets to teach the truth. Christ’s bone to pick with them wasn’t that a woman taught, but that what she taught was false teaching. We will come back to this passage in the course of our investigation of 1 Tim.2:12.
What is said in Rev 2 is this:
    But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve.
The underlined word there "tolerate" is "eao", and it means "to permit" or "to fail to restrain". Think about that a second – surely Christ condemns the false teaching of the false prophetess, but what he holds against the church there is that they do not restrain her but instead follow her. Surely, the greater implication is that they are following her falsehoods, but at least as likely – especially in the realm where so many other unsubstantiated claims can be presented – is the matter of following her at all. They tolerate her, but she should not be tolerated. And given that Pastor Zens balances more of his argument later in this paper on this passage, this implication has to be considered before any application of this passage can be made.

And in that, we have to view Pastor Zens' appraisal of his list of examples here with some skepticism:
This survey of New Testament highlights concerning women is important because it reveals the freedom of the sisters to function in the kingdom. In the general flow of the New Testament there are no jitters about “restrictions” upon Christ’s daughters. Such a survey should also serve as a corrective to those who squelch and intimidate the sisters by using their interpretation of two passages – 1 Cor.14:34-35 and 1 Tim.2:12 – to cancel out the ministry of sisters unfolded in other Scriptures.
Seriously now: the question is not whether women have the opportunity or even the obligation to serve in the local church: the question is whether they are called or even allowed to lead the local church, and in that, are they allowed to call men into submission to themselves in the way teachers and elders must call people into submission?

If Pastor Zens is making only the case that women ought to serve in the church, I say, "Amen." But this is hardly the scope of his argument – and as we will see, extending the "call to serve" to the scope of "called to rule or lead" is, at best, missing some vital support.

I'd say, "more soon" at this point, but I don't want Al Sends to lose sleep over how soon is soon. More eventually.