Presbyterian Church Government

For the past few weeks — barring sickness — I have been visiting/attending Christ Presbyterian Church. I’m currently participating in a 10-week Sunday school program for new/prospective members, and I’m not making any decision about joining or not until we’ve finished that series, which makes sense, I think.

The series, put simply by Pastor Tom Stein, is to make sure that those who join Christ Presbyterian Church know what to expect and are willing to congregate, participate, etc. in accordance with the principles the church represents.

The first two lessons are probably common knowledge, mostly, among Protestants, though the third (today’s) has gotten into more distinctly Presbyterian material. Awesome! That’s just what I’ve been waiting for.

You see, I’m not a Presbyterian. I don’t believe that infants should be baptized nor that baptism should be done in any manner other than immersion, unless absolutely precluded by circumstance (which, in all honesty, will be rare). In that regard, I am a Baptist. However, I dislike the Baptist’s democratic/congregational way of governing churches.

Today, the question, “What does it mean to be a Presbyterian?” was covered. Just going by the information covered today, I would have no problem calling myself a Presbyterian, though looking ahead in the 10-week outline, the infant baptism thing is definitely included as part of it. (Then again, I’ve only ever heard the pro-believer’s baptism arguments and never the pro-paedobaptism arguments, so I may just learn something yet. Regardless, I don’t think the issue is one to be divided over so long as the gospel is not compromised, and as I understand it complete agreement on baptism isn’t a requirement for membership. I look forward to that lesson.)

So anyway, I wanted to share a little bit with what I learned as I think most of my audience is not Presbyterian. Maybe you’ll learn something here.

The first thing that was covered was a brief overview of a few different ways of governing a church:

  • Hierarchical, in which one person has the final authority which is communicated up and down various levels of authority. If you are unfamiliar with church governance, the United States armed forces have this kind of organization. Privates report to corporals, corporals to sergeants, sergeants to warrant officers, all the way up to the generals and ultimately the Commander-in-Chief, the President of the United States. Roman Catholics have this kind of governing system, with priests, bishops, archbishops, cardinals, etc., all under the final authority of the Bishop of Rome.
  • Democracy, in which case the congregation votes on major decisions as well as perhaps many lesser ones. This is the congregational model, and I am most familiar with it from my time as an independent Baptist. The pastor has authority, but regarding decisions which affect the church, he is largely a guide rather than a decision-maker. Deacons & elders are more guides than decision-makers as well. The people have the final say as majority rules in most matters.
  • Representative, in which case rulers of the church are elected by the people in order to lead and make decisions for the people. Think of the American government. Except in the case of a referendum, American citizens do not vote in order to make decisions, they vote to place people in authority who will represent them by making decisions for them. The election of these officials may be democratic, as the system above, but the act of leadership is not.

To be a Presbyterian is to, fundamentally, believe in a rule by elders (the representative form, above). The Greek word for “elders” is presbuteros, which is quite obviously where the name “Presbyterian” comes from.

These elders are not merely aged men or those in lofty social estates or anything else of that matter. Rather, there are specific qualifications that must be met for a person to be an elder within the local church. You can read these for yourself at 1 Timothy 3:1-10 and Titus 1:5-9 in your Bibles, though the passages are probably quite familiar to most reading this.

The duties of the elders are concisely summarized in Acts 10:28, which states “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” NKJV. This Paul spoke to the Ephesian elders (v.17), and so we can ascertain that elders are those who oversee and shepherd the flock. This is an important point, as both overseeing & shepherding suggest authority. A sheep knows its shepherds voice and listens to it, Jesus taught, and so the point was made that to join the church is to agree to be under the authority — to be submissive to — the elders of the church. That concept might seem alien in today’s world of mega churches and come-as-you-are “seeker-friendly” services, but I believe it is biblical — as do the Presbyterians.

These elders are known as a church’s “session.” The session is comprised of two types of elders: ruling elders and teaching elders. The support for this comes from 1 Timothy 5:17, where Paul writes to Timothy, “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine” NKJV. The division of “those who labor in the word and doctrine” from the elders in general suggests that while the elders rule, there are some who labor in the matters of teaching and preaching.

At Christ Presbyterian Church, there are ten elders: two teaching and eight ruling. The teaching elders are those commonly referred to as pastors, ministers, reverends, and so on. The ruling elders are just as much leaders in the church, and when the session makes decisions, they all have only one vote in the matter.

Lastly on the topic of elders was the question of whether or not women may be ordained as elders, and the answer is no if the words of 1 Timothy 2:11-3:7 are heeded.

Next, we went over the office of deacon. Again, this is an office which carries with it certain qualifications; these are detailed in 1 Timothy 3:8-13.

Unlike elders, the office of deacon is not one of overseeing and shepherding (and the teaching and preaching those things entail for those so gifted). Rather, the office of deacon is one of service:

Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them. Acts 6:1-6, NKJV

That the elders might continue to be about their business of overseeing and the ministry of the Word, deacons are appointed to perform service to the congregation. In essence, the office of elder is a ministry of “word” while deacon is one of “deed,” though there is likely to be quite a bit of overlap in these duties.

As is seen in Acts, deacons are chosen by the congregation. In order to better perform their duties, they may organize themselves into various groups or committees, such as to maximize their individual gifts.

Unlike elders, the subject of women deacons is left a bit unclear, though the Presbyterian Church in America does not allow women to be ordained as deacons. The confusion comes from 1 Timothy 3:11 which states, “Likewise, [deacons’] wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate,faithful in all things” NKJV. Most translations will speak of the deacons’ wives, though some use the more ambiguous term “deaconesses” instead.

I personally feel that verse 12, which says deacons must be the husband of one wife, precludes women deacons, for no woman has ever been a husband, at least in the holy eyes of God. However, “their wives” / “deaconesses” may mean that when a man is elected a deacon, to some degree his wife is a servant of the church as well.

Outside of the local churches, the next piece of church government for Christ Presbyterian Church and other churches in the Presbyterian Church of America is that of the presbytery. These presbyteries represent the various churches within their geographical areas, and it answers a vital need in independent churches — that of visible outside accountability, cooperation, and unity. Presbyteries are made up of representatives from all of the churches within the area (themselves being elders from their own churches), and serve various functions. These might include examining teaching elders before allowing them to take a position within one of the area churches, handling problems (doctrinal, for example) that could not be resolved by the local session of elders, and organizing new churches within the area as well as supporting the work financially and ministerially.

All of the area presbyteries are themselves accountable to the general assembly, which is again made up of representatives from all of the various presbyteries. The general assembly serves to make sure the presbyteries are honoring Christ and His work and Word, but it also oversees various denominational agencies, such as the seminary and college, church planting agency, and missions agency. The general assembly acts as yet another level of accountability as well, for those problems which are unable to be resolved at the session or presbytery level.

The more I think about the basics of this system, the more I like it. I still really need to set down and read Perspectives on Church Government for more knowledge on the subject, but I certainly don’t see anything in this system that screams “Unbiblical!” like an hierarchical system would.

Though this system — with its three spheres of session, presbytery, and general assembly — may seem hierarchical, it must be emphasized that local church autonomy is emphasized and the majority of decisions made concerning a church are made by the church itself. The presbytery and general assembly serve as checks against doctrinal error or other such problems, but they do not strictly control the local congregations. It should also be remembered that the presbytery and general assembly are made up of those who are serving at the session level at their respective churches. This ensures that even at the general assembly level, leaders are not disconnected from the “real world,” so to speak.

18 thoughts on “Presbyterian Church Government”

  1. There’s nothing in that article I haven’t heard before, but to allow a woman to be a pastor and to therefore be an authority in the church is to completely undermine the headship of man over woman, the principle that women ought not have authority over men, and the principle that women ought to remain silent in the churches, to the point that if they have a question about something, they are to ask their husbands at home.

    Sorry, but an elder must be the husband of one wife, the ruler of his household. A woman is neither of those things according to oft repeated biblical principles. I would certainly argue that single men may not be elders. His faithfulness in leading a marriage/family is what qualifies him to lead a church. A single man fails by default on that qualification.

  2. Rick, not to say I disagree with you, but what about Paul? He wasn’t married, and in certain instances he even said Christians should not get married (1 Corinthians 7). Yet Paul led plenty of churches. And was Peter married (I seriously don’t know)? If he was, then okay, but I don’t recall reading that Peter ever did marry, and yet he led a church(es). Just something to ponder.

    However, I do agree with you that I think women should not be a leader of the church. Please, to any who might take that wrongly, I am not against woman freedom. I just acknowledge that God has ordained certain positions for both men and women in life, and leading the church is not one of them for women. Are they able to do so? Most definately! I know some women who have a higher intellect and deeper relationship with God than most men, but even still God has not ordained them to be pastors.

  3. In all technicality, an apostles is not equivalent to a church elder. The apostles ordained elders and indeed set the qualifications for them; the qualifications for an apostle are fairly irrelevant to us today — there were only a handful (between 11 and 20, depending on how liberal you want to be with the definition) of apostles and after them there have been none.

    Was Paul ever married? I don’t know. It would have been unusual for a Jewish man to not have a wife, but it certainly isn’t without precedent.

    Peter was married, despite the Roman Catholic’s claim to the contrary. Mark 1:30 and context describes Jesus’ healing of Simon Peter’s wife’s mother.


    Joyce Meyers is probably the most famous woman preacher out there right now. I’ve only spent a short time watching her on television, but I did catch a brief bit the other day when I was snowed in and couldn’t get my car out to go to work. She was talking about the importance of asking “why,” unless, as she said, you were one of her employees in which case questioning her was bad. But it’s important to ask “why,” she says, and the situations she gave as examples were, “Why can’t I wear those colors together?” and other such important spiritual matters that I’m sure Jesus had in mind when He said, “Feed My sheep.”


    To justify women preachers requires just as much twisting of the Scriptures as does commanding church leaders to be celibate.

    All through Scripture, we have men leaders: Adam over Eve; the Judges, the Kings, the Apostles, early church elders, and on and on. We come across language which forbids women from speaking in church, which commands them to not take authority over men, and on and on. Women not only shouldn’t be elders in the church, they must not be if they want to be honoring to Jesus Christ.


    There is one bit of Scripture which does explicitly command women to teach, but the passage is directed at the aged women. Why we have all these young women trying to get behind the pulpit and act like they received a calling from God, I’ll never know. (Even if a voice from Heaven told them to be pastors, they would do better to stick to the Law and to the Testimony of Scripture!)

    And what are these aged women told to teach? They are to teach younger women to love their husbands, to love their own children, and “to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed” Titus 2:4,5.

    How many of the aged women in our society are teaching the younger women to be homemakers? Or to be obedient to their own husbands? Or to be discreet?

    According to verse 3, these are “good things” that they are teaching, and failure to teach these things to the younger women blasphemes the word of God.

    How amazingly out of whack society — even the Church! — has become.

  4. Hi,

    Your restrictions on Elders followed to its logical conclusion would eliminate many more men than you have stated. After all, it says not only that the elder must be “the husband of one wife” but also “having his children in submission”. That would restrict men who are married but do not yet have children. It would also restrict men who are unable to have children. I know of no denomination that goes that far, do you? Yet if we take this passage as a check list for Elders, then they must have children and they must be married men.

    Rather than taking this passage to an unreasonable set of restrictions (i.e. do we fire a Pastor whose wife dies and who has not yet found a second wife?), perhaps we should do more work to find out what the passage would have meant to Timothy’s generation. In that culture, the term “husband of one wife” referred to polygamy. It was the same restriction made by the Jews regarding the High Priest. Although the average Jewish man was allowed to have multiple wives (some Rabbi’s restricted the number of wives to four while others restricted the number of wives only by the number that the Jewish man could afford to keep) the High Priest had a restriction that the normal Jewish man did not. The High Priest must be “the husband of one wife”. He could not be a polygamist. He could be married and divorced but he could not be a polygamist.

    So why did Paul not say that the Elder must also be “the wife of one husband”? The reason is clear by understanding that the culture did not allow women to have more than one husband at a time (polyandry).

    In this way we can understand Paul to be saying that *if* an elder is a man, he is to be married to only one woman at a time. *If* an elder has children, that person must be able to have his children under control. Paul’s list should not be taken to exclude single men, or men without children, or women, but to state a principle of faithfulness and ability to care for the house of God.

    Rick also said that according to “oft repeated biblical principles”, a woman is not to be the ruler of the household. However if you check the Greek in 1 Timothy 5:14, you will see that Paul says that the women are to “rule” the house. The Greek that the NKJ renders as “manage” the home means a despot, ruler, control or head. It certainly is not a biblical principle to deny that the woman is also the ruler of the home. The Old Testament also agrees that children are to obey the Father and the Mother (and her rule or laws).

    This issue should not be one that divides the body of Christ. I do believe though that a person who strongly believes that a woman is not allowed by God to teach men or have any type of leadership in the church, would benefit their sisters in Christ by reading or listening to the other side of the story so that they are aware of why those who hold to the inerrency of scripture can also hold to the freedom of women to use their God-given gifts for the benefit of the entire body of Christ (men and women). What does it hurt to be familiar with the reasoning of those men and women who do not believe as you do? If you have the truth, it should never hurt one to understand what the other sides believes and why they believe it.

    My 4 DVD set called “Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free?” is an easy way to understand the hard passages of scripture from someone who believes that every word and every piece of grammar in the Bible is inspired by God. The DVD is available on and has been reviewed very favorably from Pastors from both sides of this theological fence. The best thing about it, is that it is lovingly done because my brothers in Christ who believe differently than I do deserve to be treated with love and respect.

    If you can show how my reasoning is wrong, I invite you to educate me. So far no one has been able to refute the careful Biblical exegesis, verse by verse, passage by passage. I would encourage you to see the other side and to do so with a resource that is extremely respectful.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this. We need both brothers and sisters in Christ who care deeply for God’s word and who hold to its authority.

    Oh, and the Pentecostal church in the US and Canada allows for women Deacons. Perhaps you meant some other denomination other than the Pentecostal church. I don’t think the United Pentecostal church allows for women in leadership, but the UPC is considered a cult and is not part of the Pentecostal churches.


  5. Cheryl, thank you for your gracious reply, though I still disagree with you. I don’t have time at the moment to give a thorough reply, so please forgive me for not including it.

    Although, I must point out, I never mentioned any Pentecostal church. ;)

  6. “Although, I must point out, I never mentioned any Pentecostal church. ;)” Rick

    What about this?

    “Unlike elders, the subject of women deacons is left a bit unclear, though the Pentecostal Church in America does not allow women to be ordained as deacons.” Rick

    In His amazing grace,

  7. I wonder how you respond to 1 Timothy 2:12, Cheryl. It says, “I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man.” This verse precedes 1 Timothy 3:1-2, obviously. So, what would Paul mean if he wrote, “If any man or woman aspires the office of overseer, it is a good work that they do” when only a matter of sentences before Paul says, “I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over man”?

  8. Hey there Justin,

    That’s a great question regarding 1 Timothy 2:12. I believe very strongly that God’s word is completely inspired including every word and every piece of grammar. That means that 1 Timothy 2:12 is inspired by God and profitable for learning and for correction. However 1 Timothy 2:12 is not a verse without a context. I have explained this verse in context at my blog

    I personally believe that 1 Timothy 2:12 cannot be understood in context until one understands who the “she” and the “they” are that Paul refers to in 1 Timothy 2:15. Paul never uses the Greek word for salvation in his epistles to mean anything other than spiritual salvation so we must understand who the “she” is whose salvation is in question and what “she” and “they” need to do to stay in the faith. I have explained this passage verse by verse in my DVD on the women’s issue and I have received very good reviews even from those whose viewpoint is complementarian. You can see the reviews of those who agreed to let their review become public at Those Pastors who have not yet given me permission to print their reviews have told me that the exegesis is “thought-provoking” and “powerful”. I sure appreciated their input.

    The biggest challenge for my precious brothers in Christ who do not agree that a woman can teach the bible to men is to explain how Paul could be universally stopping all Christian women from teaching correct biblical doctrine to men. After all, he left Timothy behind in Ephesus to stop the false teachers. He didn’t leave Timothy behind to stop the false teachers AND the women from teaching. If someone call exegete these three chapters to me verse by verse showing how it is godly teaching that Paul is stopping instead of false teaching, I sure would like to see how that is accomplished.

    Blessings to you!

  9. Cheryl, either share your exegesis here or stop posting. The first rule above the comment box is “Spam will be deleted.” If all you care to do is create teasers for your DVD, your comments will soon find themselves in the trash bin.

    Interestingly enough, no godly teacher in Scripture ever said, “I’d love to share this precious Bible truth with you, for only $$$$ per parchment!” Either share with us your reasonings from the Bible without peddling the word of God for monetary gain, or please leave. Thank you.

    All of that said, 1 Timothy 2:11-15 says what it says; you’re welcome to insert whatever viewpoints you want into it, but that doesn’t make those things biblical.

    The entire context of chapter 2 is universal — to all the church. We’re all to pray for our leaders (vv.1-2). The doctrines given about Christ apply to all Christians. The instructions given to men (v.8) apply to all Christian men, likewise do the instructions to women (vv.9-15) apply to all Christian women.

    And in telling all women to adorn themselves with “good works” (v.10), he immediately precludes the act of teaching by instructing them to “learn in silence with all submission” (v.11), bringing that point home by pointing out that he “does not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man.” Within the church, she is simple “to be in silence.” The reason for this is because Eve was first deceived — not Adam. Eve’s mistake resulted in a unique role for women which holds true even in the church — that she is not to be an authority over men.

    Paul brings the point home in 1 Corinthians 14: “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church” 1 Corinthians 14:34,35, NKJV.

    It doesn’t take much at all to understand what Paul is saying: women are not permitted to speak in church, even to the point that if they have a question about something, they are to ask their husbands at home.

    I’m sorry, Cheryl, but I find your teaching to be contrary to the Scriptures and therefore incapable of being honoring to God.

  10. Dear Rick,

    I gave the link to my explanation of 1 Timothy 1 & 2 because I am not a home and the computer I am using is a Mac and one I am unfamiliar with. I didn’t know how to copy the point numbers so it was easier to send the link. I fail to see how that is considered spam.

    Here is the context and I am taking the time to add my own numbers to keep the context readable as I was unable to copy them.

    1. In context, Paul is dealing with false deceived teachers who are teaching false doctrine (1 Tim. 1:3, 7)

    2. Paul did not leave Timothy behind in Ephesus to stop the false teachers AND to stop all women who are teaching correct biblical doctrine….he only left Timothy behind to stop the false teachers from teaching false doctrine (1 Tim. 1:3)

    3. Paul says that he too had been deceived and he received mercy because of his fighting against the church was because he was ignorant of the truth and he had been deceived (1 Tim 1:13, 16)

    4. Paul differentiates between those who were teaching false doctrines because they were ignorant and deceived (1 Tim. 1:3, 7) and those who were deliberate deceivers (1 Tim. 1:19, 20)

    5. Paul names the deceivers (1 Tim. 1:20) but he does not name the ones who 2. re deceived (1 Tim. 1:3, 6)

    6. Paul gives instructions to Timothy regarding how the men and women who claim godliness should conduct themselves in the church while they are in the midst of the false teachers (1 Tim. 2:1-10)

    7. All Christians should be praying for the lost even those who are lost in their midst – those who are embroiled in false doctrine (1 Tim. 2:1-4)
    The Christian men in the congregation are not to handle the false teachers with argumentation that might come out even in their prayers (1 Tim. 2:8)
    The women in the congregation who lay claim to godliness (1 Tim. 2:10) need to handle this false teacher situation with prayer as well (1 Tim. 2:9 “likewise� links back to prayer) and continue to produce good works (1 Tim. 2:10) and not expect that it is their appearance with elaborate dressing that will show forth the godly example, but their godly works (1 Tim. 2:8-10)

    8. Paul then abruptly changes from the godly men and women (plural) to the singular form of woman and man and deals with a problem of false teaching and a false teacher.

    9. Before Paul gives the prohibition, he gives the solution to one of the problems in the church. Paul instructs that “a womanâ€? is to be given the opportunity to learn. This identifies the problem that she is not one of the deceivers, but one of the deceived. Paul never educates the deceivers – he names them, exposes them and shuns them. His solution to deception is education in sound doctrine and he never ever identifies the deceived.

    10. Paul tells Timothy that he is not allowing “a woman� to teach or authenteo “a man�. It is out of context to even consider that Paul is here stopping godly women from teaching correct biblical doctrine. In context the prohibition can only be the stopping of false doctrine and stopping a false teacher. (1 Tim. 2:12)

    11. We know this is false teaching that is being stopped because Timothy’s mandate to stop the teachers was only for false teachers. Also in the example given later of why the teaching is to be stopped, Paul ties the prohibition into the example of the first deceived woman (1 Tim. 2:14)

    12. Whenever gune and aner are mentioned together in scripture in any type of relationship, they are always translated as husband and wife. Verse 12 should be translated as a single wife teaching/influencing her husband.
    Paul has several times not identified people by calling them “a man� yet the context clearly identifies the “a man� as a specific person (2 Cor. 12:2, 5; 1 Cor. 5:1) 1 Timothy 2: 11, 12 follows that example as two people are called “a woman� and “a man� without naming them. They are not named because the wife is one of the deceived and Paul never identifies the deceived ones by name.

    13. Paul identifies the reason why the first man was not deceived and why the woman was. He refers us back to Genesis to discover the reason by stating that the man was created first and was not deceived and the woman was created second was deceived (1 Tim. 2:13, 14 and Gen. 2:8, 19) See Genesis 2:8, 19 in the Apostle’s Bible which is the modern English version of the Greek Septuagint where it is quite clear the education Adam had before Eve was created.

    14. The grammar from 1 Timothy 2:15 requires the identification of a single female to refer back to “a woman� from verse 12. The “she� from verse 15 cannot be Eve because the tense is future and Eve is dead.
    The only “she� in this entire passage that verse 15 can refer back to is “a woman� from verse 12. “She� and “they� are given instructions regarding her salvation and it is future tense.

    15. 1 Tim. 2:15 gives the answer as to whether the deceived woman can receive salvation even though she has been deceived by false doctrine. She (refer back to verse 12 the deceived Ephesian woman) will be saved through the Messiah born of the woman (the childbearing which is a noun and not a verb), if they (refer back to verse 12 the deceived Ephesian woman and her husband) continue on in their faith in God, love for the Savior, holiness, and self-control to stay away from false doctrine. This is how one deceived woman will be saved (and is a pattern for the salvation of all deceived teachers).

    16. Summary: Paul was not making a universal prohibition that stopped godly women from teaching sound doctrine to men. He was stopping one of the false teachers in the assembly from taking her Christian husband down the proverbial garden path towards the forbidden fruit.

    I appreciate your passion in holding strongly to scripture, but what I asked was for you to show from 1 Timothy 1 & 2 how Paul was stopping godly Christian teaching and not false teaching. I see that you didn’t identify that issue from 1 Timothy 1 and why Paul would not have mentioned that the false teaching was to be stopped along with all women stopped from teaching.

    Since I freely share my doctrinal views in my blog, it is not peddling the word of God. In fact most people would find that charge to be highly offensive. I am sure you didn’t mean to be offensive. I merely mentioned my DVD because some people learn best visually and it is helpful to know that this kind of resource is available.

    What I have found is that when one sees both sides of the argument, they can be much better informed and it is much more helpful to have a caring attitude towards others in the body of Christ. There are many resources available on the women’s issue. I have found reading both sides from many sources to be extremely helpful for me. I highly recommend that approach to others.

    We are called upon to love one another and to esteem others better than ourselves. That certainly can be a challenge at times when brothers in sisters in Christ have differing viewpoints. It is when we love each other and are patient and kind that the world can see that we all belong to Christ.

    Blessings to you brother!

  11. The charge of “peddling the word of God” was given because you seemed more interested in promoting your DVD (going so far as to mention reviews it has gotten) rather than explaining your point for us here. If I want to watch ads for DVDs, I’ll flip on the television. ;)

    Thank you for sharing your explanations. You have completely ignored a wonderful parallel passage to 1 Timothy 2:11-15 (1 Corinthians 14:34,35) in your explanations, however. That is quite telling.

    Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church. 1 Corinthians 14:34,35, NKJV

    Note that the context here is not “false teachers”; rather, it is the order of the church, and even here Paul plainly states that it is forbidden for women to speak in church. The Greek word for “speak” there is even a generic word — it does not specifically refer to tongues or prophesying but to any speaking. It is shameful for women to speak in churches. Paul’s instructions to Timothy go right along with what he instructed the Corinthians.

  12. Hi Rick,

    You said: “The charge of “peddling the word of Godâ€? was given because you seemed more interested in promoting your DVD (going so far as to mention reviews it has gotten) rather than explaining your point for us here. If I want to watch ads for DVDs, I’ll flip on the television. ;)”

    Actually I gave the link to the explanation of 1 Timothy at the same time as I mentioned the DVD. The reviews were mentioned to show that the exegesis is not coming from someone who disregards God’s word but the reviews show that even those who disagree say that my exegesis was well done and worthy of considering. The abbreviated point form that I gave you summarizes my view but understandably could not go into the detail that the visual format could. Thanks for explaining why you charged me in this way. Perhaps it would be better to hold off a charge of wrong doing until one asks why one’s words are presented in the way they are. I find that often it is just a point of misunderstanding and it is unwise to charge someone too quickly.

    As far as 1 Corinthians 11 – I am sure you meant 1 Corinthians 14:34, 35. Just a little typo on your part. We all can have problems with those computer keys at times, and I am not exempt myself (!)

    1 Corinthians 14:34, 35 cannot be taken in context as silencing women from speaking in the church because if it did, then Paul would be contradicting himself not only in the same passage where he says that the entire church can prophesy (you all can prophesy one by one), but from a few chapters before in 1 Corinthians 11 where Paul speaks about women praying and prophesying publicly. Since we are discussing 1 Timothy 2 in context, we should stick to that context lest we find ourselves breaking your rules of staying in the context.

    Okay so back to 1 Timothy. I did ask you to show me from the context how Paul could be stopping godly Christian women from teaching correct biblical doctrine to men. Please do so in context starting with 1 Timothy 1. The context here is clearly false teaching and false teachers. Where does the stopping of godly Christian women fit into this context? If you exegete chapter one in this way, it would be most helpful.

    The very best context for these discussions is one of respect. Paul told us that one who corrects another needs to do so with respect so that the one who is wrong in his (or her) doctrine will be willing to listen and that God may grant them a repentent heart so that they can turn away from error. God’s way is at times very hard because it requires a lot of patience on our part. But His way is the best.

    Blessings on your Christian walk,

  13. As far as 1 Corinthians 11 – I am sure you meant 1 Corinthians 14:34, 35. Just a little typo on your part. We all can have problems with those computer keys at times, and I am not exempt myself (!)

    Hehe, thanks for catching that. The typo was probably a bit more than simple accident — when first going back to the passage in 1 Corinthians 14 earlier, my first recollection was that it was in chapter 11. Perhaps that stuck when I was citing the verses in my previous comment. :P It’s been corrected.

    The passage in 1 Corinthians 11… Okay, let’s submit that women are able to pray and prophesy publicly. First off, I’m a cessationist and believe that the knowledge/revelatory gifts, such as prophesy, ceased with the completion of the New Testament canon. So for me, that leaves allowing women to pray. Fine. They can pray, but that certainly does not allow them to hold the office of overseer. No New Testament passage even hints at women being overseers, though it is mentioned they should not have authority over men (which would contraindicate them overseeing men).

    As for 1 Timothy, Paul does not say he does not permit “false teachers who happen to be women” from teaching. He simply says that he does not permit women from teaching. The implication is that any woman presuming to hold the office of elder in the church would be a false teacher, having no biblical basis for holding the office.

    Going back to the qualifications of an elder, and assuming that women are not forbidden by the “husband of one wife” clause, it is still impossible for a woman to fulfill the requirement of ruling his own house (vv.4,5). First Peter 3:5,6 show that a woman is ruled by her husband. It is that headship over the family that the father is entrusted with which prepares him for headship over the church. A woman is granted no such headship, though she is “second in command” so to speak.

  14. Dear Rick,

    Well, I think we have clarified one thing….that women were not silent in the churches and Paul didn’t mean for them to be “case-closed” silent. Whatever Paul meant, it was not the silencing of women. Some of Paul’s writings are tough cookies, and yes they are all inspired. But it seems like the Holy Spirit gave a few passages for us to really have to work at. If we take the easy road and exclude the context, they seem to silence women completely – praying, prophecying, asking questions, singing, etc. But taken in context, it’s a different story. Even for cessationists (which I am not) it is biblical to admit that women can publicly pray. That public praying was not silent. Paul was not contradicting himself Ah, yes, before we get off topic agasin, we are talking about 1 Timothy correct? The book of 1 Timothy in context is not about silencing of correct doctrine. I have looked at the entire book of 1 Timothy verse by verse and can find no reference to stopping godly teaching. The only reference to the stopping of teaching that I can find is a clear command to Timothy that he was left behind in Ephesus to stop the false teachers. If you can instruct me differently, I am always open to being corrected.

    I do want to thank you for releasing us women to pray publicly in church. I really mean that! Some complementarians won’t even go that far so kudos to you for being open and biblical.

    Now about the other point you brought up. You said “Paul does not say he does not permit “false teachers who happen to be women” from teaching. He simply says that he does not permit women from teaching.”

    Permit me to point out a couple of things. In 1 Timothy 1 Paul tells Timothy that he is to stop the false teachers. The wording is such that includes male and female, so any woman that is a fale teacher would be included in chapter 1. Also Paul did not say say he does not permit “women from teaching”. He said that he does not permit “a woman” from teaching “a man”. Now this can be a single woman and a single man or it can be generic woman meaning “all women”. The context will determine which it is. It is probably important here to say that CBMW (the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) also admits that it can be a reference to a particular woman teaching a particular man, or generic woman and generic man and either way would have to be proven by the context. I heartily agree.

    We have two problems with making the prohibition a universal prohibition that would stop the teaching of every godly Christian woman to any man. The first problem would be that this would create a “law” that is completely different from any other law of God. It would make it a unique law – the only one that cannot be tested against the Old Testament scripture. Paul commended the Bereans for testing his doctrine against the Old Testament scriptures. Which Old Testament scripture could the Bereans have tested this new “law” by? There was no Old Testament law that forbid women from teaching men. It also would make it a unique law because it would be the only law that is without a second witness – it is never repeated in scripture. It would also make it unique in that it would be the only law that makes a godly act – the teaching of correct doctrine from the scriptures – to be a bad thing.

    The second problem would be that if we make “a woman” to mean every woman, then there is no reason for Paul to say “she” and “they” in verse 15. Who is the “she” that Paul is referring to? It cannot be Eve since the “she” has to be alive at the time of the writing of 1 Timothy because Paul says that “she” and “they” need to do to make sure she has salvation. There is no “she” to refer back to in the entire passage except “a woman” from verse 11 & 12. She has to be a particular woman who is one of the false teachers mentioned in chapter 1. If the “she” is not a particular woman, then who is Paul referring to? This passage is inspired by God and every word and every piece of grammar is inspired so we really do well not to ignore any of the inspired words.

    You also said “The implication is that any woman presuming to hold the office of elder in the church would be a false teacher, having no biblical basis for holding the office.” I did notice that you said “implication”. Paul does not say this so to get this out of the passage one must read into the passage. After all Paul said in 1 Timothy 3:1, if “anyone” desires to be an overseer. The word usage is inclusive of male or female. If God wanted us to know that only males can desire to be an overseer he could have inspired the Greek word that means males only. Did God make a mistake by including women in the “anyone”? I don’t think God makes mistakes.

    Lastly Paul tells women to rule their households so they qualify in this manner and although the husband is the head and the wife is the body, the husband is never said to be the ruler of the wife. Perhaps you can show me where scripture tells the man to rule his wife. I have never seen such a scripture and I am sure that my husband would be interested to know if he was commanded to rule me. He just loves me with all his heart and sacrifices for me. He says that is all that God has commanded him to do.

    Isn’t it wonderful to be able to disagree on this topic in an agreeable manner? Some people just don’t tolerate any disagreement at all.


  15. One last comment that I forgot to include last night. You said: “The implication is that any woman presuming to hold the office of elder in the church would be a false teacher, having no biblical basis for holding the office.” There is no definition of a false teacher as one not authorized to teach. Paul clearly shows in 1 Timothy 1 that the false teachers are those who teach false doctrines. One who teaches true doctrines and who loves and follows the Lord Jesus Christ cannot be called a false teacher. I think it is best just to stick to scripture and let it guide our lives. Scripture in context is always the safest way to let it judge us instead of adding our own fallible thinking into the text. Boy, I sure need to watch for this too as all of us are human and subject to adding in our own bias. But I do want truth more than I want to hold to fallible tradition. Only God’s word is truth.

    Take care,

  16. The reason that Paul advised men against marrying, is that the attention and care required of a wife and family detracts from a man’s service to God and the church.


    That suggestion was in context to men who had already devoted themselves to ministry and evangelism. Paul, like many of that era, believed that the end times would occur during their lifetimes, and quite understandably felt that it was important to save as many souls for the rapture as possible.

    Even with that perspective, Paul did not believe or suggest that the average man should not mary and have a family.

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