The Synagogue, Church and Women
John 12:42 talks about Jews who believed in Christ who would not confess for fear of being put out of their synagogues. In John 9:22, when the blind man was healed the Pharisee’s asked his parents who healed him. The parents told them to go ask their son for fear of being put out.
We see in these two examples that these people who were Jewish were afraid of being eliminated from the synagogue. This proves two points to me. One was that the Church of Christ was not held in the synagogue. Matter of fact the Jews despised these newfound Christians.
Second, in the Corinthian church being made up of mostly Jewish people, were allowing the teachings of the Jewish traditions to cloud their thinking which was swaying their faith and their beliefs. Paul wrote his letters to get them back on track with the gospel of grace. These new followers of Christ were new creations…yet they struggled with the understanding of their newfound freedom. These people were feeling the need to adapt to the pressure they were experiencing around them.
1Corinthians 14:34-35 – “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. 36 What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?”
Was Paul not rebuking the Corinthian church who thought themselves holy? The women were not allowed in the synagogue as this was a Jewish ordinance. They were not allowed to teach assemblies or to ask questions. Until the time of the Gospel of Christ this was their belief. Remember in this time they only had what was taught to them, there was no New Testament written.
Joel 2:28 – “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.”
We’ve read in the book of Joel the spirit of God was to be poured out on all flesh…this meant women as well as men, that they may prophecy and teach (Clarks Commentary).
Galatians 3:28-29 – “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
If salvation is for all, and if we’re all endowed with gifts from on High (Ephesian 4:8; Hebrews 5:1), and if we’re all ministers of the gospel of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:18; Ephesians 4:12) then how can one do any, or be any of these without being a PART of the body of Christ (man, woman, or child)? Where is the scripture that supports the fact that women should not partake in the gifts of the Spirit? Or where is it that says that women should not teach or lead others when led by the Spirit to do so.
Joel spelled it out that “and it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh.” This prophecy was speaking about what happened in the book of Acts chapter two. Women, in Acts 2, were speaking in tongues also and prophesying. Don’t you imagine the Pharisees’ were burning with anger inside of them?
Obviously women did teach and prophecy or the Apostle Paul would not have laid down the rule he did in 1 Corinthians 11:5. Although this scripture here and the one in chapter fourteen seem to contradict each other, perhaps Paul was relating that a woman should indeed teach or prophecy when she hears from the Lord to do so. Could it have been that in Chapter 14 Paul was refuting the fact that women shouldn’t try to question or find fault in the teaching? After all the Jewish men were allowed to do this in the synagogue, but women in the synagogue were not allowed; thus since women were allowed into the Christian church they refrained them from being overbearing and usurping authority over the man, like the men did in the synagogue.
Even Phillip had four daughters who were prophetess (Acts 21:9). There were women who were believed to be Apostles, although the books written in the New Testament didn’t speak this specifically; they certainly recognized them to taking a big role in working alongside the men (Romans 16:3; 16:6, 15; 1 Corinthians 16:19). If I may mention that both of these mentioned here are part of the five-fold ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12).
Last, but certainly not least, verse thirty-six of chapter fourteen brings it home for this soul. Who are we to judge? Who are we to be holier than thou and say that God didn’t permit women a place in leadership or in the church? Is that not legalism?
Acts 15:11 – “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”
Acts 15:19 – “Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God.”
There was quite the confusion in the body when the Christ followers were pulling away from the traditions of the Jews. This was evident in Acts 15 where the Apostles gathered together to discuss the matters of whether the Gentiles should follow all the rituals and traditions as the Jews. It seemed at that point they realized God’s infinite grace.
As long as Christ is the head of the body (Ecclesia – church) and the husband is the head of the home – who keeps his wife in order (Genesis 3) – then anything else is the same argument as the Pharisees’ and is a form of either authoritarianism, chauvinism, or legalism wrapped up in a package called pride.
In our struggle to keep our faith alive today and with the condition of the church coming to a great ‘falling away’, we must keep our focus and not let misinterpretations or lack of knowledge cause division. We must be in agreement with all things…for how can two walk together unless they agree (Amos 3:3). Also, His people will perish for a lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6).
The enemy is constantly at work trying to fog the minds of the believers, this is why we must be vigilant and alert ourselves, being harmless as doves while we seek to be wiser than the serpent who seeks to destroy us – the body of Christ.