While this study is entitled "The Role of Women in the Body of Messiah" it is actually more than that. It is about the role of both men and women in the assembly, and in the home. They are all related and quite inseparable. I believe Yahweh wants to give us abundant blessings in a great and mighty way but I am concerned that our cultural mindset has affected our understanding of scripture. One of the ways that our culture has affected us strongly is understanding the roles of men and women in a marriage, and in the congregation. Today, men often behave as women and women often behave as men. I do not believe it is easy for any of us to truly be content and at peace until we appreciate and desire to fulfill the purpose Yahweh created us to fulfill.
The main purpose of this study is to see what the scriptures have to say concerning the position of a woman in the family and in the assembly according to the word of Yahweh. Once a woman's purpose is understood, it quickly becomes evident what a man needs to be doing. I know that some will inevitably be scoffers of this message. But if we are willing to consider what the scriptures clearly teach and refuse to be influenced by fears incited by past oppressions and/or the modern-day "women's lib" movement, I believe that everyone will experience a new found freedom in the Messiah that Yahweh greatly desires to give.
In the Beginning
One of the best ways to understand the proper role of women in the assembly is to have a good understanding of what Yahweh's intended purpose was for woman from the very beginning. For this reason, we will spend some time examining the first couple chapters of Genesis.
First, let's first examine the role of Man/Adam:
Genesis 1:26 And Elohim said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
Adam was made in the image of Elohim. Before woman was formed, Adam was created to 'have dominion' over all creation. But in all creation there was not found an 'help meet' for man:
Genesis 2:18 And Yahweh Elohim said, [It is] not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. 19 And out of the ground Yahweh Elohim formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought [them] unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that [was] the name thereof. 20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
Note that Yahweh brought Adam the very things he was to have dominion over so that he could give names to them. Throughout scripture, those who gave names had authority over who or what was being named. For instance, Yahweh changed Jacob's name to Israel and Abram's name to Abraham. Yahweh the Father named His son "Yahushua" just as parents name their own children. Yahushua renamed Simon to Kepha/Peter. So when a person received a name, it was by one who was in authority over them. Yahweh named Himself since there is none greater. Sadly though, man seeks to exalt himself by renaming him (the Lord, God, Adonai, etc).
Notice also that of all the animals and birds that were brought to Adam, there were none that were considered a help meet for him. Thus, the solution:
Genesis 2:21 And Yahweh Elohim caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; 22 And the rib, which Yahweh Elohim had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
At this point I would like you to imagine for a moment that you are Adam. Longing to not be alone, you had just given names to all that was in your dominion and you sought diligently for a helper that was suitable, but found none. The next thing you know Yahweh brings you a woman whom He created out of your own flesh. At that moment I think I would have been saying, "What an awesome gift from Yahweh!" And indeed she still is. So she is to be treated as an awesome gift from Yahweh, to be loved and cherished. To love and cherish her is an act of thanksgiving to Yahweh. Let's keep reading:
23 And Adam said, This [is] now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
What a beautiful thing Yahweh has done! Now do we see any indication here that Yahweh wanted woman to have any dominion over Adam? No, she was made from Adam and Adam is the one who named her "woman" (Hebrew: Isha). She was not created to be his authority figure. Rather, the purpose Yahweh had in mind when creating woman was for her to help or assist the man. As we will see later, this is the reason why a woman is not to have authority over a man. This is her role all throughout the scriptures. She is to be loved and cherished by man in the home, and in the assembly. Every scripture which speaks of a man's and woman's role must be interpreted with this understanding as its backdrop. In the same way a fish was made to swim in the water and a bird to fly in the heavens, woman was created to be a help and companion to man.
Now imagine for a moment that you are Eve ("Chawah", as Adam named her in Gen. 3:20). Before Yahweh took her from Adam she did not exist. So in one moment she was nothing, and in the next moment she was. She was then brought to Adam to be a help to him. I think we can be sure that she didn't have any problem understanding her purpose. She was created for Adam, to be a companion, to be a help and to assist him.
Help and assist him in what? And how?
Just as he is called to love and cherish her as the gift from Yahweh that she is, her expression of thanksgiving to Yahweh for creating her is to walk out the calling Yahweh created her to walk in.
In his dominion mission, he needs support and assistance. Any successful army desiring to take dominion requires a support system behind them. Women are called to walk in the role of supporter and helper. It is an infinitely valuable, essential and important role. In this, the dominion mission becomes a mission for both men and women to accomplish together---with each of them fulfilling important parts of it. Both are equipped spiritually, emotionally and in every other way... suitable to accomplish the Yahweh-given task. If she fulfills her part, she receives equal reward (Numbers 31:26-27, 1Sam 30:24)
Understanding this foundation will help us to understand the role of women in the body of Messiah. We can be sure that her role in the body of Messiah fits well with what she was created to do. It is sure to be a role that is one of support, help and assistance to the man.
The fall of mankind is surely the saddest story in all of scripture. The sinful and rebellious nature we struggle against every day is a result of the fall. It was this fall that has brought all of the suffering and pain in this world. It was this fall that brought Yahushua to this earth to bear our sin and suffer for us. Let's read:
Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which Yahweh Elohim had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath Elohim said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
The serpent was first seeking to cause her to doubt Yahweh's word. She responded very well:
2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3 But of the fruit of the tree which [is] in the midst of the garden, Elohim hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
The reason why I believe she responded very well is because she quoted Yahweh's words. This is what Yahushua did when he was tempted by satan (compare Matt 4:1-10). Now some claim that she misquoted Yahweh because we don't have a record of Yahweh saying, "neither shall ye touch" the tree, but scripture does not always record everything spoken. So Yahweh could have told them at some point that they were not to "touch" the tree either. We all know where touching it would lead anyway.
4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 For Elohim doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as elohim, knowing good and evil.
This is the first lie recorded in scripture. This lie deceived Eve into believing that if she would eat from the tree, she would be "as elohim, knowing good and evil". The temptation was that she could rise up out of the place Yahweh created her to be, and be just like Yahweh Himself. The "subtle" implication from the serpent was that Yahweh had only forbidden her from eating that tree because He didn't want her to be like Him, the "Most High". So this temptation was not only an attempt to get Eve to rise up out of the place Yahweh created her to be, but it was also an attack on the integrity of Yahweh's word. It is an imitation of satan himself to exalt yourself and seek to be "like the Most High" (Isaiah 14:14), so it is no surprise that he would tempt Eve with the same. Today, with the "women's lib" movement and world view, women have again fallen prey to the temptation of rising up out of the place Yahweh created her to be.
6 And when the woman saw that the tree [was] good for food, and that it [was] pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make [one] wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
So Eve's response to this temptation was to look at the fruit with her eyes, and after noticing that it was good for food and what she thought it would do for her, she took the fruit and ate. As we know, it did not give her what she had hoped. She was greatly deceived! Now let's not fall prey to the idea that this was just a cute little story about the beginning of creation. This is what brought the world into the awful condition it is today! Think of all the sin you have read, heard about or experienced yourself. The most heinous crimes imaginable are here because of this one decision.
Notice also that she "gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat". So Adam was right there with her while all of this was going on! Adam failed to exercise his authority and take the lead in this situation. I think He could have said, "Eve, let's get out of here" or at least quote Yahweh's words as Yahushua did when he was tempted. But instead he went ahead and ate the fruit when she handed it to him. Why did he eat the fruit? Was he deceived also? As we will see, Adam was not deceived but he simply chose to do what he knew was wrong.
7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they [were] naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. 8 And they heard the voice of Yahweh Elohim walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of Yahweh Elohim amongst the trees of the garden. 9 And Yahweh Elohim called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where [art] thou? 10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I [was] naked; and I hid myself. 11 And he said, Who told thee that thou [wast] naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? 12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest [to be] with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. 13 And Yahweh Elohim said unto the woman, What [is] this [that] thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
Notice the two different responses. Eve said that the serpent 'beguiled' (deceived) her, but Adam just said that the woman gave her the fruit and he ate it. Thus, scripture records:
1 Timothy 2:14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.
As a result of this, Yahweh said:
14 And Yahweh Elohim said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou [art] cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: 15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
So the serpent was cursed and Yahweh predicted the seed of satan would ultimately bruise the heel of the woman's seed. But in light of the fact that man also has a role in begetting children, why was this promise given to the woman instead of the man? We do know that Yahushua was born of a woman but because of the virgin birth He had Yahweh as His Father. And while Adam failed to exercise his dominion over the serpent, Yahushua would overcome the serpent's temptations and not yield, though He would be wounded in the process. Therefore, Yahushua is worthy to receive all power and authority (Matt 28:18). We who are in Messiah again have authority over the serpent because while he may be the ruler of this world, we are part of a greater kingdom and have a greater King!
Luke 10:19 - Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
We who are in Messiah will likewise triumph if we participate in His death and resurrection:
Colossians 2:12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of Elohim, who raised Him from the dead.
2 Timothy 2:11-12 This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. 12 If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.
But those who do not choose this way will continue in their sins and are considered children of the devil:
1 John 3:8-10 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of Elohim was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of Elohim doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of Elohim. 10 In this the children of Elohim are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of Elohim, neither he that loveth not his brother.
The evidence of one being a child of Yahweh versus a child of the devil is whether or not a person is doing righteousness. As mothers and fathers, we want to bear children who are children of Elohim. This is Yahweh's will for marriage. This is why Yahushua warned so strongly about offending the little ones or putting a stumbling block in their path. Both men and women are capable of being a stumbling block to this goal being reached. Thus, it is written:
Malachi 2:13-16 And this is the second thing you do: You cover the altar of Yahweh with tears, With weeping and crying; So He does not regard the offering anymore, Nor receive it with goodwill from your hands. 14 Yet you say, "For what reason?" Because Yahweh has been witness Between you and the wife of your youth, With whom you have dealt treacherously; Yet she is your companion And your wife by covenant. 15 But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring (Hebrew: "Seed of Elohim"). Therefore take heed to your spirit, And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. 16 "For Yahweh Elohim of Israel says That He hates divorce, For it covers one's garment with violence," Says Yahweh of hosts. "Therefore take heed to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously."
A man dealing treacherously with this wife by divorcing her is a hindrance to Yahweh's desire of having a "Seed of Elohim" as these verses declare. Today's divorce rate accompanied with hurting and weeping children is indeed evidence of that. In scripture, a man's role is compared to that of Messiah and a woman's role is compared to the role of the assembly, His bride.
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Messiah also loved the church and gave Himself for her,
Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to Yahweh.
Together, they are to bear children for the purposes of having a 'seed of Elohim' that will build the kingdom of Yahweh and destroy the works of the devil. When either one fails to fulfill the role they were created to be in, it is a hindrance to their children being the 'seed of Elohim' that Yahweh desires.
Getting back to Genesis, we see that the woman was predicted to bear the seed that would destroy the works of the devil. But Yahweh says she will bring forth children in sorrow, and in case any might think that her lofty goal was successful in any way, Yahweh clarifies that she will still be under her husband's authority rather than being "like Elohim" as satan claimed.
Genesis 3:16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire [shall be] to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
But to Adam:
17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed [is] the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat [of] it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou [art], and unto dust shalt thou return.
Yahweh punished Adam because he "hearkened (listened) unto the voice of his wife". So it was the act of Adam obeying her voice that also brought this world into its current state. Man was created to lead and have dominion. Woman was created to be a help to Adam. It was her decision to take the lead that resulted in the fall of man. Again, this is no small thing! To save us from this poor decision, Yahweh had to send His only begotten Son into the world and Yahushua endured a tremendous amount of grief, pain and suffering to redeem us back to righteousness again. The message in Genesis is clear. Woman was not created to lead man. And as we will see later, this is why she is to be submissive and this is why she is to "learn in silence" rather than taking a leadership role in the body of Messiah.
In light of the above, it is understandable why men have the power to overrule the words of his daughter or wife...even if she made a vow:
Numb 30:3-13 "Or if a woman makes a vow to Yahweh, and binds [herself] by some agreement while in her father's house in her youth, and her father hears her vow and the agreement by which she has bound herself, and her father holds his peace, then all her vows shall stand, and every agreement with which she has bound herself shall stand. But if her father overrules her on the day that he hears, then none of her vows nor her agreements by which she has bound herself shall stand; and Yahweh will release her, because her father overruled her. If indeed she takes a husband, while bound by her vows or by a rash utterance from her lips by which she bound herself, and her husband hears [it], and makes no response to her on the day that he hears, then her vows shall stand, and her agreements by which she bound herself shall stand. But if her husband overrules her on the day that he hears [it], he shall make void her vow which she took and what she uttered with her lips, by which she bound herself, and Yahweh will release her. Also any vow of a widow or a divorced woman, by which she has bound herself, shall stand against her. If she vowed in her husband's house, or bound herself by an agreement with an oath, and her husband heard [it], and made no response to her [and] did not overrule her, then all her vows shall stand, and every agreement by which she bound herself shall stand. But if her husband truly made them void on the day he heard [them], then whatever proceeded from her lips concerning her vows or concerning the agreement binding her, it shall not stand; her husband has made them void, and Yahweh will release her. Every vow and every binding oath to afflict her soul, her husband may confirm it, or her husband may make it void.
It must be understood clearly that it is Yahweh's will for the man to be the voice of the family. Just as in the garden of Eden, his mere silence can mean a lot! If the wife had done anything (even an oath to Yahweh) that wasn't according to the husband's will, then the husband was given the authority to overrule it. The authority of a father over a daughter is on even par with the authority of the husband over a wife. So it is the position of the wife, as directed by the will of Yahweh, to be subject to her husband and her husband has the right to reverse and overrule her words and decisions, even if it were an oath to Yahweh. I realize that this is quite foreign to our culture and the way little girls are raised today, but no matter how far our culture strays from the scriptures, it does not change the scriptures. Yahweh does not need to change because Yahweh is not wrong, it is man who is wrong. To resist or scoff at this notion (as some do today) is to resist and scoff at Yahweh's will.
The principle here is entirely consistent with the way Yahweh created man and woman. In scripture the husband is viewed as the "Bah'al" (Hebrew word #1166) or Owner/Master of the wife.
Prov 12:4 (KJV) A virtuous <2428> woman <802> [is] a crown <5850> to her husband <1167>: but she that maketh ashamed <954> <8688> [is] as rottenness <7538> in his bones <6106>.
This word that is translated "husband" is the Hebrew word #1167 "Bah'al" which according to Strong's Lexicon means "Master, hence a husband or (fig.) a owner." In fact this word is translated "owner" 14 times in the KJV. Here is one example:
Exod 21:28 (KJV) If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die: then the ox shall be surely stoned, and his flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner <1167> of the ox [shall be] quit.
Here the word (Bah'al) is used when describing how a man would "own" an ox. A man is the "Master/Owner" of his wife according to the word of Yahweh. We can dismiss this on "culture" all we want, but when Yahweh brought the children of Israel out of Egypt (the world), He was establishing a new culture. He was establishing a culture that pleased Him. This is the will and word of Yahweh. This is why it is so important that a woman have a righteous husband who will treat her with respect, dignity and honor! Young women, take note! Choose the husband that Yahweh chooses for you. When a man married a virgin, he had to pay a 'bride-price' to her father to cover his losses. As we examined earlier, Yahushua is often referred to as the "bridegroom" and the assembly is called the "bride". Yahushua bought us with His life:
1 Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from Elohim, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify Elohim in your body and in your spirit, which are Elohim's.
Therefore, we see that the husband is the owner of the wife just as the bride of Messiah is owned by the Messiah. These things establish the extent of a man's authority over a woman. The reason I have brought these things up is because our modern society does not recognize these things and we have a mindset that we need to rid ourselves of. We need to let our worldview and our understanding of a man's and woman's role to be the same as Yahweh's.
The "New Testament?"
Some claim that in the "New Testament", a woman is "liberated" and she can now take on the leadership role in the body of Messiah. Furthermore, some claim that woman is now equal in authority to a man in marriage. But are there any "new testament" scriptures which would contradict the role and position of women in the Tanakh or so called "Old Testament"? To the contrary, here is one of many that support this same role:
1Pet 3:3-6 Do not let your adornment be [merely] outward--arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on [fine] apparel-- rather [let] [it] [be] the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible [beauty] of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of Yahweh. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in Yahweh also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him master, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.
Here we see a "new testament" scripture which clearly demonstrates that a woman should be looking to women of "Former times" as examples of how to live. "Holy women who trusted in Yahweh" by adorning themselves with submission to their own husbands, "as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him master, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror"
Notice that women are instructed to not be afraid when they submit to their husbands. Fear is what drives many women to try their hand at overthrowing her husband's decisions by striving, contending, and arguing with them. Generally, the fear is that a husband's decision will result in an unpleasant circumstance. In fact, Yahweh doesn't promise that women will not endure any unpleasant circumstances when we submit to Him! Rather, look at what Yahushua went through and remember that He is our example of how to respond to unpleasant circumstances: By humbly, quietly trusting in Yahweh. Sarah trusted in Yahweh when she submitted to her husband's decision to tell everyone she was his sister. As a result, she ended up in the harem of a king but Yahweh intervened and delivered her unharmed. Abraham and Sarah walked away from that incident with abundant possessions. Read about it in Genesis 20.
In the verses we read above, Sarah called her husband "master", or "Adon" if you look it up in the Hebrew. In Genesis 18:12, she calls him "Adonai" which means "My Master". Notice also that it says "Sarah obeyed Abraham". The word "Obeyed" here in 1Pet 3:6 above is Strong's word #5219 which is also translated "Obey" in this verse:
Luke 8:25 (KJV) And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey (5219) him.
So we can see that the word "Submissive" is equated with "Obeying". The women are to be submissive just as Sarah obeyed Abraham and the wind and water obeyed Yahushua. This is the example that women are called to follow in the "new testament". The man is still in authority. Keeping this in mind, there are many other scriptures that are very clear about women needing to be in submission (and therefore obedient) to their husbands:
Colo 3:18 (NKJV) Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in Yahweh.
Titu 2:3-5 (NKJV) the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things-- that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of Yahweh may not be blasphemed.
According to this verse, if a woman decided not to obey her husband in a matter then she would give occasion for the word of Yahweh to be blasphemed! The word translated "Blasphemed" means "to malign or bring reproach". We ought to be magnifying the word of Yahweh rather than bringing reproach and blasphemy upon it through our behavior.
Ephe 5:22 (NKJV) Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to Yahweh.
Why as to Yahweh? Because Yahweh has established the man as the
in the home. Any decisions he makes will be placed on HIS shoulders on
the day of Judgment. If he refuses to lead, he will be held accountable. Adam's failure to lead contributed to the fall of man.
Did his excuse, "The woman that you gave me" work? No. Men should rise up
and take their place that Yahweh has given them as the leader of their home and as
leaders in the assembly.
This does not mean "control everyone." This means "lead by example" and express your will in the family Yahweh has given you.
Perhaps you feel inadequate. But you weren't given the authority because you were so smart or so perfect. You were given the authority
because YOU are the one responsible. Take your responsibility seriously and take
the lead. Be loving and consider everyone's needs in the family. If you believe Yahweh wants you to do something, be firm but fearful in your decisions. Yahweh, the most powerful being
in the universe is on our side only when we are on His side. Lead by example, and by being a servant to all;
even as Yahushua didn't come on this earth to be served but to serve!
This does not mean "control everyone." This means "lead by example" and express your will in the family Yahweh has given you. Perhaps you feel inadequate. But you weren't given the authority because you were so smart or so perfect. You were given the authority because YOU are the one responsible. Take your responsibility seriously and take the lead. Be loving and consider everyone's needs in the family. If you believe Yahweh wants you to do something, be firm but fearful in your decisions. Yahweh, the most powerful being in the universe is on our side only when we are on His side. Lead by example, and by being a servant to all; even as Yahushua didn't come on this earth to be served but to serve!
Ladies, to help put things in perspective for a moment, please ponder the common sense logic that is given in Yahweh's will for your life. Even the world realizes that a company needs some kind of management to make important decisions about the direction of things. Suppose there were a company that just let all the employees make all of the decisions? What if the employees made all the decisions and management just stood there silent and useless? Totally preposterous, right? Yet, this is the common picture of a home in today's world where "Women's lib" (or as a comparison, "Employee lib") has taken hold. Imagine a company where the "employees" call the shots and make it so that management either obeys or is going to be miserable. Today, the manager of the home often just stays out of the way and mumbles a few words here and there. It ought not be so. Even common sense tells us that Yahweh is right!
Ephesians 5:23-24 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Messiah is head of the assembly; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the assembly is subject to Messiah, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
Of course, if the husband does not lead with love there will also be a home with much chaos and confusion. But he answers directly to Yahweh and Yahweh is in control.
1Corinthians 11:3 - But I would have you know, that the head of every man is the Messiah; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of the Messiah is YAHWEH.
Let it be so. At this point, we have laid a foundation for understanding Yahweh's purpose in creating woman. She is to be a help, support and companion to the man. Her role in the body of Messiah will be consistent with what she was created to be. A woman's role is extremely important and vital to the health of the body. Don't let anyone tell you any different. The body of Messiah needs men and women, each doing their part so that the love of Yahushua may be made manifest to all the world, just as Yahweh intended. When each are doing their part in the body, it is also the best environment for spiritual growth in the assembly. We cannot separate the role of the man & woman in marriage from the role of each in the body of Messiah. Yahweh created woman with certain gifts that would best enable her to be a 'help' to man. Yahweh created man with certain gifts that would best enable him to lead and manage. These do not change when it comes to the assembly. These gifts compliment each other in the assembly and any efforts to reverse their roles will ultimately result in the same disaster seen in the garden of Eden.
Do not your heart be troubled, neither be afraid
Probably the biggest reason women are not willing to accept this is because of fear. There is a fear of consequences if the man makes a mistake or error in judgment. But we must realize that it is a natural consequence that when one in the leadership position makes a mistake, all who are under their authority will suffer. For instance, when Adam and Eve made their mistake, we (their children) continue to suffer for it. All that was in their dominion suffer to this day. The animals, birds and fish are out there killing each other and suffering every day because of it. The whole earth groans because of it. Today, when parents make mistakes, the children always suffer for it. It is just the way it is, and we cannot change that. The same is true when a husband makes a mistake. His wife and his children will suffer for it. The solution is not for the wife to take over or lead the man. The solution is for the wife to pray for her husband, that Yahweh would lead him to make the right decisions. Two wrongs do not make a right. Yahweh is in control and the woman needs to step aside and allow the Spirit to lead her husband. This requires faith that Yahweh will take care of whatever situations she will find herself in. She should not "play Holy Spirit" and she should not murmur against the man. Yahweh is working on him so when she complains she is actually complaining about how Yahweh is molding him. Of course, if the husband is a loving husband he will not purposely or knowingly hurt his wife but will consider her in all the decisions that are made.
This is not to say a wife can never humbly make an appeal, for even Yahweh allows us to appeal to Him to change His mind about something. Moshe appealed to Yahweh many times and Yahweh heard his prayer of intercession. But it was always done in humility and Yahweh's final decision was always accepted without argument. An appeal is never an argument. There is a huge difference.
Silence in the assembly
If a woman is walking in submission to her husband at home, and he is leading according to Yahweh's leading, it will carry over into the assembly as well. If there is a lack of order in the home, then that can also affect the assembly. This is especially true when everyone is gathered together. One example of this is found in the following verse:
1Cor 14:34-37 (NKJV) Let your women keep silent in the assemblies, 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. Or did the word of Yahweh come [originally] from you? Or [was] [it] you only that it reached? If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of Yahweh.
This is one of the more controversial passages in scripture. The reason it is so controversial is because it is so contrary to our culture of "liberated" women and weak men. It isn't controversial at all if we understand why Yahweh created woman to begin with. It isn't controversial at all if we just look at what is said in this verse and accept it. Numerous explanations have been offered to try and fit this verse into our culture. Some have suggested that because men and women were on opposite sides of the room in those days, a woman would need to ask her husband from a distance and end up disrupting the meeting. But archaeological discoveries confirm that this was not the custom of that time. In the article entitled Sepphoris Synagogue Mosaic of the Sept/Oct 2000 Biblical Archaeology Review it states, "By now it is widely accepted among scholars that synagogues from the early centuries of the Common Era did not have a separate women’s section." Others claim there was a "shrieking problem' in the assembly so Paul decided that women should just just to keep quiet. Still others have said that Paul just didn't like women so he wanted to keep them quiet. Of course, none of these things are mentioned in the verse itself. The truth is, we don't have to look far to find the reason why Paul said what he said. He gave us the reason! Let's look again:
1 Corinthians 14:34 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.
The reason that women are to keep silent in the assembly is because they are "to be submissive". So a woman speaking in the assembly is simply not being submissive to the man. For a woman to speak in the assembly is an act of independence, not submissiveness. The mindset of this generation does not understand how this could possibly be. But remember that from the beginning of creation Yahweh appointed the man to be in a leadership position. The man has the role of guiding the spiritual direction of the family and the assembly. When a woman asks a question, she is taking it upon herself to guide the assembly with her question. The direction of the assembly from that point will center around her question rather than the assembly being directed by those whom Yahweh Himself appointed to lead, the men. A woman can actually control the entire group with her questions and take up the entire time of fellowship by asking one question after another. I have personally witnessed this numerous times. All things are to be done decently and in order. If a woman speaks in the assembly, she is either directing the conversation or she is teaching men with her words.
Adam and Eve were perfect and blameless at one time. They were completely without sin. But even then, Eve was tempted and deceived by the serpent. It was Eve's deception and Adam's choice to "hearken/listen unto the voice of his wife" that brought Adam, Eve and all of us to ruin. Should we not learn from this mistake? Men need to stand up and be men. Men need to fulfill their calling and lead the assembly, their families and indeed all the world into understanding and following the will of Yahweh.
1 Corinthians 14:20 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.
Remember also that a husband has the authority to annul even a vow spoken by his wife. Suppose she would have a question that he would prefer not being asked, or make a statement in the meeting that disagreed with his leadership? That would make for an awkward and disorderly situation. Now it is true that men are also subject to error (of course!) but for one reason or another Yahweh chose men to lead, and we should accept that decision. Ultimately, it is Yahweh that should be leading each one of us. Thus, we men ought to be especially sure that we are in tune with Yahweh's will in all things
1 Timothy 2:8 I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; 9 in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, 10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness [Grk. worship of Elohim], with good works.
These principles need to be heeded today. We need the humility and meekness to pray in faith and without anger or bitterness toward others. If a woman has a humble heart, it will often manifest itself in the way she dresses. If she dresses in any way that says, "Look at me!", whether it be through fancy hair and flashy clothes or clothes which draw any attention to the areas of her body that only her (then or future) husband should know about, humility is probably lacking in her heart. Rather, a humble woman will have a meek and quiet spirit which isn't looking for attention, but would rather be in the background... quietly fulfilling the role that Yahweh has told her to fulfill. Therefore, the next verse says:
1 Timothy 2:11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.
These verses confirm everything we have examined up to this point. We didn't need the above verses for us to come to this understanding already. It was evident from the very beginning of creation. Therefore, this scripture points us back to creation, to temptation and the fall of man in the garden of Eden to prove the point. A woman can serve and bless the body of Messiah in many wonderful ways, but teaching and leading men is not to be one of them. This was not and is not her role. In the same way a man was not created to bear and nurse children, a woman was not created to lead or teach men. It says a woman is saved in childbearing for a reason. It is one of the things Yahweh desires out of woman. Yahweh wants a seed of Elohim and He has blessed woman with the task of bearing that seed and nurturing the little ones into knowing they are loved and Yahweh is love.
Blessed handmaidens of Yahweh
When Yahweh was looking for one to bear His only begotten Son, He chose a very humble woman in Miriam. Let's look at her response to this blessing:
Luke 1:38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of Yahweh; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
And later she said:
Luke 1:46-48 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify Yahweh, 47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in Elohim my Saviour. 48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Miriam/Mary considered herself Yahweh's handmaiden. The Greek word used here means "a female slave". She regarded herself as Yahweh's slave. She knew that Yahweh looked upon her "low estate" and decided to bless her. And Yahweh knew that He didn't have to be concerned with her pride getting in the way of His glory. She was in her place, loving her role as Yahweh's handmaiden. O women of Yahweh, what blessings does Yahweh have in store for you? Seek to be His handmaidens. Female slaves have no choice, they have to do their master's bidding because they are slaves. Follow her example and I promise you... you will be blessed! It is upon the handmaidens that Yahweh will pour out His Spirit:
Acts 2:17-18 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith Elohim, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
So many proud women today claim to have his Spirit and because of this they choose to lead men in the assembly. But it is upon the humble handmaidens who know their place that Yahweh will give it. You never saw Yahushua's mother taking the role of a teacher and claiming "Look, I was chosen to be Yahushua's mother...you should hear what I have to say". No, she knew very well her place and that is one reason why Yahweh chose to bless her.
Deborah the prophetess
This generation seeks to justify "women's lib" movement in the assembly by quoting one of the few instances in scripture where Yahweh chose to make a prophetess out of His handmaidens. The most common one referenced is Deborah. Of all the judges in the book of Judges, none were prophets. But she was a prophetess. For this reason, people who had issues could come to her and she could declare "Thus saith Yahweh" to them. Let's look at one example of that:
Judges 4:4-7 Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time. 5 And she would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. 6 Then she sent and called for Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali, and said to him, "Has not Yahweh Elohim of Israel commanded, 'Go and deploy troops at Mount Tabor; take with you ten thousand men of the sons of Naphtali and of the sons of Zebulun; 7 'and against you I will deploy Sisera, the commander of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his multitude at the River Kishon; and I will deliver him into your hand'?"
Now some have had this idea that in the "Old testament" Yahweh only worked through men, but the "new testament" ushers in a new era where Yahweh will now pour out His Spirit upon both men and women (and not just men). This is a clearly a false notion. As we can see, Yahweh used women as prophetesses before this time. But the role of a prophet is not to teach and have authority. The role of a prophet is to speak "Thus saith Yahweh" as the Spirit gives utterance. Deborah informed Barak what Yahweh had spoken, and Barak listened and assembled the army of ten thousand at his command. However, the lack of faithful men at that time is revealed here when Barak lacks the confidence to go without Deborah:
Judges 4:8 And Barak said to her, "If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go!"
His unmanly fears and threat to not go without her seems to indicate a lack of confidence in Yahweh's words. And so Deborah informed him of the consequence:
9 So she said, "I will surely go with you; nevertheless there will be no glory for you in the journey you are taking, for Yahweh will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman." Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh.
So Deborah submitted to Barak's decision and went with him. However, she let him know that Yahweh was going to give the honor of victory to a woman. In light of Barak's demand that a woman go with him, it seems appropriate that Yahweh would take away any honor of victory from him and give it to a woman. However, that woman was not Deborah; it was a woman by the name of Jael. If you continue to read the story, you'll see that Jael ended up killing Sisera with a tent peg while he slept. Nevertheless, Deborah was joyful that Barak was at least willing to go and fulfill Yahweh's word. For when the victory was complete, Deborah sang:
Judges 5:2-9 When leaders lead in Israel, When the people willingly offer themselves, Bless Yahweh! 3 "Hear, O kings! Give ear, O princes! I, even I, will sing to Yahweh; I will sing praise to Yahweh Elohim of Israel. 4 "Yahweh, when You went out from Seir, When You marched from the field of Edom, The earth trembled and the heavens poured, The clouds also poured water; 5 The mountains gushed before Yahweh, This Sinai, before Yahweh Elohim of Israel. 6 "In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath, In the days of Jael, The highways were deserted, And the travelers walked along the byways. 7 Village life ceased, it ceased in Israel, Until I, Deborah, arose, Arose a mother in Israel. 8 They chose new gods; Then there was war in the gates; Not a shield or spear was seen among forty thousand in Israel. 9 My heart is with the rulers of Israel Who offered themselves willingly with the people. Bless Yahweh!
Out of her own mouth Deborah rejoiced "when leaders lead" and that her "heart is with the rulers of Israel". This proves that she was not the leader and ruler, for she declared that her heart was with those that were--and she rejoiced when they led! So Yahweh's Spirit was upon this humble handmaiden of Yahweh who knew her place. In this case, it was in the role of a prophetess who spoke "thus saith Yahweh" so that the men would know what Yahweh had planned. In this, it was not a woman teaching but it was Yahweh speaking. In this role, she is not repeating the mistake in the garden of Eden by questioning or casting doubt on Yahweh's words. Rather, Yahweh's direct words are being spoken! Speaking "thus saith Yahweh" is not the same as interpreting and expounding upon the scriptures, or leading an assembly in a certain direction. Deborah was a humble handmaiden of Yahweh who recognized that the men were the ones appointed by Yahweh to be in the leadership role. She never rose up to be a leader or ruler over Israel but only spoke the word of Yahweh like a prophetess. It was Yahweh that brought Barak to overthrow Jabin and it was Deborah who rejoiced when the leaders were willing to lead!
Yahweh Himself declared how unfit it is for women to be in the leadership role:
Isaiah 3:12 As for My people, children are their oppressors, And women rule over them. O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err, And destroy the way of your paths."
In this scripture, children and women are being described as oppressors and rulers. Yahweh never intended women to be rulers any more than He intended children to be oppressors. Even so, many still seek out scriptures to support the opposite.
Aquila and Priscilla
A scripture commonly used to support the view that men and women can be co-teachers in the Assembly is when Aquila and Priscilla took Barnabas aside to teach him a more correct way of understanding:
Acts 18:24-26 Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. 25 This man had been instructed in the way of Yahweh; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of Yahweh, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of Elohim more accurately.
Aquila and Priscilla were a husband and wife team that proclaimed ministered in various ways. They were Paul's traveling companions (Acts 18:18) and at some point had an assembly in their house (1Cor 16:19). In this instance they saw that Barnabas was in need of a more accurate explanation of the way of Elohim. Is there anything in this verse which would prove that Priscilla did not walk in her role as a help-meet and support to her husband? Prominent Greek Scholar A.T. Robertson makes the following comment about the word translated "took him aside" (KJV "took him unto them") in this scripture:
(proselabonto). Second aorist middle (indirect) indicative of proslambanô, old verb, to their home and heart as companion (cf. the rabbis and the ruffians in 17:5). Probably for dinner after service.
Act 18:26 - They took him unto them
Note that it seems likely that Barnabas was invited to their home. Since correcting Barnabas would take some time to do, it seems reasonable to suggest that they met for dinner. The New International Version translates verse 24 the following way:
Acts 18:26 (NIV) He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of Elohim more adequately.
In such a situation, it would only make sense that Priscilla prepared the meals and did other support duties while Aquila took on the role of teaching. They functioned together as a ministry to the saints and there is nothing here which proves that Priscilla was teaching or having authority over Apollos. Yahweh gave special roles to the husband and wife and when both of them are walking in those roles as a ministry team it is a beautiful picture of exactly how things are supposed to be.
Another scripture commonly used by those who seek to justify the 'women's lib' movement in the assembly is Romans 16:7...
Roma 16:7 (NKJV) Greet Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in the Messiah before me.
Some have said that this verse proves Andronicus and Junia are "among the apostles" with "Junia" being a female. However, it does not say that they were apostles. Rather, it says they were 'of note' among the apostles. In other words, they were notable and highly esteemed in the eyes of the apostles. The Greek grammar will also support this understanding according to various Greek scholars such A.T. Robertson (See Robertson's Word Pictures). But even if they were apostles, it is unclear whether "Junia" (Grk. Junias) is a masculine or feminine name.
We are all one in the Messiah Yahushua
Another scripture commonly quoted is:
Gala 3:27 For as many of you as were baptized into the Messiah have put on the Messiah. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in the Messiah Yahushua.
What is concluded from the above verse is a woman is 'equal' to men and can assume the role of the man in the assembly. But is this what it is really saying? Since there is neither male nor female in Messiah, would it be okay for a man to behave as a female and put on pretty dresses? Or does Yahweh make it so that men can now bear children? Obviously, the fact that we are all "one in Messiah Yahushua" does not negate the roles Yahweh has given each of us since creation. Men should still be men and women should still be women. It is the warped and perverted minds of this generation that want to even go so far as to let men marry men and women marry women. I assure you that the acceptance of homosexuality and lesbianism is in many ways a product of the "women's lib" mindset. So what was really meant when it says we are all "one in Messiah Yahushua?"
Let's examine another scripture where 'oneness' is spoken of:
John 17:20-21 I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 "that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.
Yahushua prayed that we would all be one. Notice that He also prayed that we would be "one" as the Father is "one" with the Son. In fact, He prayed that we would be "one" with the Father and the Son when He said "that they may be one in us." Does our oneness with Yahushua and Yahweh mean that we are Yahweh and Yahushua's equal when it comes to authority? Does it mean that we can be their leader? Are we living the role we were created to live if we chose to exercise authority over Yahushua or Yahweh? Of course not. As the body of Messiah, our oneness with one another does not take away the purpose for which we were created. We are to be one in purpose, and will and thought... with Yahweh. When we are "one" in Yahweh and in Yahushua, we are "one" with each other as well! We are all "one body". Each member of the body performs different tasks. The hand does not perform the same task as the foot. The fingers do not perform the same task as the legs. Woman was not created to lead men any more than we were created to lead Yahushua. The fact is, if a woman chooses to take over the role of a man, she is actually tearing down the oneness in the body. She is making the mistake of Eve in the garden and tearing down the order required for oneness to occur:
1 Corinthians 11:3 But I want you to know that the head of every man is Messiah, the head of woman is man, and the head of Messiah is Elohim.
This is not to say that women are inferior to men. Let me repeat this, I am not saying that women are inferior to men! I am simply pointing out that it is unscriptural to say men and women have the exact same roles in the body of the Messiah. Scripture simply does not teach this. I do believe that we are all spiritually equal to one another in the eyes of Yahweh, but men and women have different duties in the body of Yahushua. And they are all important if we only open our eyes and see the needs! The needs are great, but the laborers are few:
Luke 10:2 Then He said to them, "The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Master of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.
The need is great for laborers. And I don't mean just male laborers. Just as men are needed, the body of Messiah needs women who are willing to accept their role in the assembly and learn to walk therein. Yahushua is looking for handmaidens who are meek, quiet, chaste, homemakers who are submissive to their husbands. He is seeking those who are willing to take the less visible role in the body that will be greatly rewarded at the resurrection of the just.
What about Singing & Prophesying?
1Cor 14:34-37 (NKJV) Let your women keep silent in the assemblies, 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. Or did the word of Yahweh come [originally] from you? Or [was] [it] you only that it reached? If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of Yahweh.
It is often asked, "Can a woman sing in the assembly if she is indeed to keep silent?" This is where we need to look at the purpose for Paul's statement that a woman should keep silent in the assembly. He said that it is because she is "to be submissive." So we need to ask ourselves if a woman participating in singing has anything to do with leading and guiding the meeting. Obviously, if she is singing along with everyone else there is no reason to believe this would violate the principles of authority given in scripture. The same is true if a woman is asked to read a scripture verse out loud or if she happens to be a prophetess who speaks in the manner of the prophets: "Thus saith Yahweh". In those cases it is not the woman speaking, but Yahweh Himself. This is different than a woman asking a question, presenting a scripture study, or interjecting her views on various subjects. But even if she is a prophetess, interruptions are not acceptable (1Cor. 14:31-32).
Examples of women in ministry
Women may ask, "What can I really do for others?" This is a good question! So let's examine some scriptures which may shed light into a woman's role in the assembly. Let's first examine the role of a woman in the assembly who is a "deaconess":
Matt 27:55 (NKJV) And many women who followed Yahushua from Galilee, ministering to Him, were there looking on from afar,
You might be surprised that I said "deaconess". But the word translated "ministering" in this verse is indeed the same Greek word translated "Deacon" in other verses. We can be sure that these women were not operating in the role of leadership over Yahushua the Messiah or the twelve disciples. Therefore, just because a woman might be a "deaconess" in the body of Messiah, it does not mean she leads or teaches the men. Paul also mentions women who are doing the same:
Romans 16:1-2 I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, 2 that you may receive her in the Master in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also.
Sister Phoebe was a great 'help' to Paul and many others. We can be sure that she wasn't Paul's leader or teacher. Phoebe would have been ministering in various ways which would support and help the brethren in their work for Yahweh. What kinds of things would a deaconess be doing? Let's examine another verse which uses the same word "diakoneo/deacon":
Luke 8:1 (NKJV) Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of Yahweh. And the twelve [were] with Him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities--Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.
The same Greek (#1247 diakoneo/deacon) word is used here, which is translated "ministered" (KJV) or "provided". The word translated "substance" is #5224 which means possessions, goods, and wealth. It is also used in other verses such as:
Luke 19:8 And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Master; Behold, Master, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.
It is translated "goods" in this verse. Another example:
Luke 14:33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
These women were indeed forsaking what they had and using their goods to serve Yahushua. It doesn't give specifics but I'm sure they were providing clothing, food and whatever other needs there might be to support Yahushua in a manner that would be a 'help' to him. They were not teaching or leading men, for women were not created to lead men.
Another example of this is Simon Kepha's mother:
Luke 4:38-39 And he arose out of the synagogue, and entered into Simon's house. And Simon's wife's mother was taken with a great fever; and they besought him for her. 39 And he stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her: and immediately she arose and ministered unto them.
"She rose and served/ministered to them". I think we can be certain that she wasn't expounding on the scriptures and leading Yahushua and the apostles. She was serving in other ways such as cooking/preparing meals for the guests of her home. We can find other such examples in scripture:
Acts 9:36-39 Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did. 37 And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber. 38 And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them. 39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.
Dorcas was known and loved as a woman full of good works. We see that one of the evidences of this was the coats and garments made by her. She gave of her time and of her substance, and much like the women who followed Yahushua, she was a blessing to the assembly. Even so it ought to be among us. Women have an important and needed role in the assembly. Maybe the need for clothing-makers isn't as great today. But I can tell you from experience that there is a great need for women to make tassels (Tsit tsiyot). There are many needs in the assembly if women would simply look for them and pray about what Yahweh would have them to do. Those that are still single might even find themselves a man of Yahweh to marry if they would make themselves useful in the body of Messiah.
Good works in the Messiah
Women can minister in many other ways as well. Let's take a look at another example:
1 Timothy 5:9-10 Do not let a widow under sixty years old be taken into the number, and not unless she has been the wife of one man, 10 well reported for good works: if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints' feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work.
A woman taking her role in serving the body of Messiah is so important, that she is not considered to be 'taken into the number' of those that are widows unless she is 'well reported for good works'. What are some of the works? Let's examine each of the ones mentioned here.
The first one mentioned is very important: bringing up children. You might not think of this is an act of service or ministry to the assembly, but again we cannot separate the ministry of family and the assembly. Your children are part of the assembly also, and the way they are raised will have a powerful affect on the assembly. They are the first and most important ministry and should not take second place to others. Again, I say to you: Motherhood is a ministry to the body of Messiah! Women have a very important role as mothers and without it, the home will most likely fail. When the home fails, the whole assembly fails. When the assembly is full of failed and broken homes, you have a failed and broken assembly. Anytime an assembly tries to convey itself as having unity, while the homes in that assembly are full of women who do not submit to their husbands.. it's a lie! For if the homes aren't in unity, then neither is the assembly. But when an assembly is full of homes which are in order, dedicated to serving and loving one another...then you have an assembly of great power and glory. Then you have an assembly that is an accurate and beautiful example of the Messiah and the assembly to all the world. The behavior of men and women at home affects the assembly because the assembly is simply the people therein!
Proverbs 14:1 Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.
A woman can tear down or build up her home, and thus an assembly. She tears down by dishonoring her husband, fighting her husband, and trying to lead her husband. She builds up by being an example to her children of how to submit to authority, how to honor authority and how to live in humility when she honors, submits and remains humble before her husband. The children can learn how to be a rebel like satan, or how to be a child of Yahweh through her example. Daily, she has the choice of whether she will give into the same temptation as Eve or walk in the role that Yahweh created her to walk in. There is much more to say regarding motherhood. A full study on this subject can be found at http://www.eliyah.com/family/mothers.html.
The second thing we see is "if she has washed the saints feet". Since we mostly ride in automobiles and mostly wear full shoes and even socks today, we don't really have this issue. However, washing the feet of someone is a very humbling thing to do. Think back to the time they were living. Both people and animals traveled the roads in Israel. Because their feet would have been covered with dirt and animal dung, they would want to make sure their feet were washed before they entered a home. This goes to show that that a woman must let go of her dignity and pride in order to fulfill her role in the body of Messiah. Even Yahushua Himself washed the feet of His disciples as an example of the kind of attitude we should have.
The third thing we see is "if she has lodged strangers". Providing for others in this way can be a very self-denying and stressful activity. Keeping the visitors fed, the home clean, making sure they are comfortable and have all their needs met can all add up to a significant act of service. Here are a few examples:
Hebrews 13:1-2 Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.
The word translated "entertain" means "to receive as a guest". Lydia of Thyatira did this for Paul and those with him:
Acts 16:14-15 Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped Elohim. Yahweh opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. 15 And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to Yahweh, come to my house and stay." So she persuaded us.
1 Peter 4:9 Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.
Being able to take care of guests is an important need in the body of Messiah. A woman should be very attentive to their needs. In fact, everyone in the home should be as well. Consider the example of the household of Stephanas:
1 Corinthians 16:15 I urge you, brethren -- you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints -- 16 that you also submit to such, and to everyone who works and labors with us.
Stephanas' entire household was devoted to ministering to the saints. Even so ought it to be among us! Too often, everyone is too self absorbed to pay much attention to the needs of the body of Messiah. But when the whole family serves the body--- the mother, the father, and even the children---then not only will Yahweh reward everyone greatly, but you also will leave a legacy and example that can live on for many generations. There is a reason why the children of most missionary families remain in the faith.
The third and fourth item on the list is "if she has relieved the afflicted" and "if she has diligently followed every good work". When I read this, I am reminded of Yahushua's words regarding the afflicted:
Matthew 25:31-46 When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 "All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 "And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 "Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 'for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 'I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' 37 "Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Master, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 'When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 'Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' 40 "And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.' 41 "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 'for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 'I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.' 44 "Then they also will answer Him, saying, 'Master, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?' 45 "Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' 46 "And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
When the needs of the body of Messiah are fulfilled by us, much like the holy women who 'ministered to Him of their substance", we are ministering to Yahushua Himself. There are so many needs in the body of Messiah besides "teaching" and "leading"! When these needs are neglected and ignored, we are failing to minister to Yahushua Himself. This is a somber warning that everyone in the body of Messiah must diligently heed!
Everyone must serve
Remember, not even Yahushua Himself was immune to this principle of serving others:
Matthew 20:27-28 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave -- 28 "just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
Yahushua wasn't focused on being served, but was focused on serving others. I think it is safe to say he wasn't spending all of his time sewing clothing or cooking food, though there would have been nothing wrong with Him doing that and He did provide fish for them more than once. But Yahushua served by teaching and leading His disciples to the way of eternal life. He served by laying down His life in many ways for each one of them. He served in the ways that Yahweh desired him to serve. The same is true of women in the body. While they are not called to teach or lead men, there are innumerable ways that they can serve others! Again, just pray about what Yahweh would have you to do and seek it out. Perhaps ask another person you see serving the body if there is anything you can do to help. There always is, for the work is endless!
Helping and supporting the men, relieving the afflicted, the hungry, and the weak. These kinds of works are Yahweh's desire for women (and also men) to fulfill in the Assembly. We are an army. An army of Yahweh. Every army not only needs the troops, but also those doing the background work such as providing the meals, helping with the supplies and so on. Any army which did not have the support from other sources would fail miserably in battle. Sisters, the troops are always in need of your support. The tasks may not be so well seen of men, but they are just as important. The hidden works that are done behind the scenes will be seen by Yahweh and the day will come when Yahweh will reward you openly for your humble service to Him. So while the purpose of women has never been to teach or lead men, you can in many ways minister to the men who are proclaiming and teaching the good news of the kingdom. You can guide and teach their children the way of righteousness. The older women can teach the younger women as well, as we see in this scripture:
Titus 2:1 But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things-- that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of Yahweh may not be blasphemed.
There is a great need for older women to teach the younger ones these very principles. Surely we don't want the word of Yahweh to be blasphemed!? This scripture clearly indicates that when a woman fails to love her husband and children, fails to be discreet (self-controlled), a homemaker (as opposed to working outside the home), good and obedient to their own husbands.. the word of Yahweh is blasphemed. It gives occasion for the enemies of Yahweh to bring reproach upon the word of Yahweh. It is so important that Yahweh wants the older women to teach the younger these principles. Yahweh knows our tendencies, doesn't He? May Yahweh's word be magnified among us, and never, ever blasphemed.
So who will be the hidden servants in the background who minister to others? Might there be more women than men in Yahweh's kingdom for this reason? I would not be surprised in the least.
Luke 13:30 "And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last."
Let's seek to be the greatest in the kingdom by being the servant of all:
Matthew 23:11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.
Think for a moment, who is the greatest of all? Is it not the Heavenly Father? And indeed He is indeed the greatest Servant. For He is constantly serving us! He has given us everything we have. Our life, all of creation around us and indeed He withheld not His only begotten Son from us so that we might be saved. When we pray, we ask Him to do things for us...and He so often does! Who is the greatest servant? Is it not Father Yahweh? And Yahushua said:
John 5:19 Then Yahushua answered and said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do;
Yahushua is our example. He lives in us and desires to do what His Father has done in Him: Serving! What are you doing for the kingdom? What are you doing for the body of Messiah? Men, rise up and serve! Women, rise up and serve! Let each of us serve one another, considering one another better than ourselves. Let's leave the self-centered mindset of this world and seek the Yahushua-centered life. A life of humble service to all. This is what Yahushua requires of us. If He is indeed living in us, He will do those works in us that He did while on the earth. Men, do not be fearful cowards! Cowards will not enter in the kingdom!
Revelation 21:8 "But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."
Women, rally behind the men and encourage them in their work! Men, show appreciation for the much-needed service of women! Love them, encourage them, bless them! When each member of Messiah is working in their proper work, the true "body" of Yahushua is revealed and there is much power! The fullness of what Yahweh intended for Man and Women at creation will be at work. Both inside and outside the home, let's be that light, shall we?
Matthew 5:14-16 You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 "Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
May the light always shine in our homes so that all who are in our house are given light. May our homes grow into a city of lighted homes on a hill, Yerushalayim (Heb. "city of peace"), which cannot be hidden, but are used by Yahweh to draw all men to Himself. For we are the body of Messiah. Each of us are members of one another. We all need each other to function together in oneness and harmony with Yahweh. Let's cease from hindering the oneness by allowing the culture and spirit of this world to influence us. Let's always seek to let the Spirit of Yahweh dwell in us, that we might one day hear these words:
Matthew 25:21 His Master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Master.'
For the joy that is set before us, and for the love of Yahweh, may we always be the faithful servants that Yahweh has appointed us to be, serving Him and serving one another, each of us fulfilling our purpose in Him. Seek out His purpose for Your life. He wants to show you great and wonderful things. As you do so, may Yahweh bless you and have mercy on us all!
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