PODCAST: The Bible vs. Biblical Womanhood with Philip Payne

by | Feb 2, 2023 | Podcasts, Theology of Marriage and Sex | 28 comments

Philip Payne The Bible vs Biblical Womanhood
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Is God’s Design for Biblical Womanhood Female Subordination?

Does the Bible paint a picture of women as servants, and men as the main characters who are the leaders? Is this what God wants?

That’s what Philip Payne grew up believing. Like most evangelical Christians, he grew up in a culture where women were restricted from fully participating in the kingdom of God, and where women’s opinions were often discounted.

But at seminary, he heard a prof say that “No Bible passage, taken in the original language and in the original context, restricts women in any way.” 

He didn’t believe them, and set out to prove them wrong. And in so doing, he became one of the world’s premier scholars on how the Bible actually affirms and values women in all ways.

I was so happy to have him on the podcast today to walk through his new book The Bible vs. Biblical Womanhood.

Or, as always, you can watch on YouTube:

Timeline of the Podcast

1:25 Philip joins to talk biblical womanhood
2:15 Upbringing/Early beliefs
11:00 Why the ‘Women’s issue’ is important
16:15 The greek meanings in the text around headship and submitting
24:30 A personal family experience on this
28:50 Biblical inerrancy
34:00 “Jesus chose only male disciples”
42:00 How Peter saw male headship
45:00 An in depth look at Phoebe 

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Philip Payne is one of the premier scholars on what the Bible says about women. 

The NIV translation committee used his work to modify their translation of 1 Timothy 2:12. His work studying ancient Greek manuscripts, and poring over the notations in them, has led to a new understanding of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 (women stay silent in churches). He has taught biblical hermeneutics at Cambridge University, Trinity Divinity School, Fuller Seminary, and more. 

On the first part of this interview (the second part will air next week), we walk through some of the passages that Payne explains in his new book The Bible vs. Biblical Womanhood. He walks through the Bible in order, starting with Genesis; moving on to the stories of the patriarchs and the judges; through Israel’s history; into how Jesus treated women; and then into specific passages in the epistles that have been used to limit women. For each passage, he looks at the original language and the Greek and tells what he believes to be the correct interpretation that takes into account the immediate story and the rest of Scripture.

Then, for each ones, he raises all the objections you’ve likely heard, and demolishes them.

Quite simply, it’s brilliant.

You need to pre-order this book!

And you’ll want to hear Philip Payne’s touching story of how his dad’s belief in female submission ultimately may have led to his very preventable death. This stuff matters. And I’m so glad we have such learned scholars as Philip Payne to help us see the heart of Jesus in these passages that have so often been used to keep women down!

Things Mentioned in the Podcast

The Bible vs. Biblical Womanhood with Philip Payne

Sheila: Welcome to the Bare Marriage podcast.   I’m Sheila Wray Gregoire from baremarriage.com where we like to talk about healthy, evidence based, biblical advice for your sex life and your marriage.  And this week on Bare Marriage we are doing a special emphasis on biblical.  This week and next week we’re going to take a closer look at what the Bible actually says about women and marriage and roles and all that fun stuff.  We have an important interview to bring to you.  I also have an announcement.  Next week, on February 8, our Fixed-It For You book launches.  For those of you who follow me on social media and follow my blog, you’ll know that every so often I put up a great graphic where I have a terrible, horrendous quote that some Christian author or teacher said.  And then I fix it to make it Jesus centered.  And we have a book coming out on February 8 with 30 of those graphics along with discussion questions and some teaching moments so that you can get together with your spouse, your friends, even your small group to talk about these issues that really matter and help see them more clearly.  So look for that on February 8.  And now, without further ado, I would like to turn to our interview.  I am delighted to bring on the Bare Marriage podcast Philip Payne, who is a biblical scholar.  He has his PhD from—is it Oxford?  I’m missing it now.  Oxford?

Philip: Cambridge.

Sheila: Cambridge.  PhD from Cambridge.  He’s taught at so many different places.  Cambridge, Fuller, Bethel, Gordon, Cornwell.  This man knows his stuff.  He’s written a lot of books on textual criticism.  And he’s done so much work on looking into the text and figuring out what God really thinks of women and how He wants us to treat each other.  He has a new book coming out in April.  I read it yesterday.  I love it.  It’s called The Bible and Biblical Womanhood, and I want to go through that and just let you know this is a freedom message of what God really thinks of women.  So Philip, I am so glad you’re here.  Thank you very much for joining us.     

Philip: Thank you for letting me speak.

Sheila: Before we get started into your book, can you tell us what did you grow up believing about marriage, about women’s and men’s roles?

Philip: I grew up in a traditional Dad is head of the house type of home.  We had family council meetings every week.  But it seemed like Dad always had 7 votes.  So the 5 children and mom—whatever Dad wanted worked out.  It actually worked out quite well.  My father was a fun loving—he had a song for every occasion.  He was a remarkable, biblical scholar.  He did his PhD in Princeton 9 months after completing his PhM at Princeton while teaching Semitic languages at Princeton.  He knew all the Semitic languages well.  After breakfast and dinner, we’d read a chapter, and everyone would read 1 verse.  Whenever Dad read, he gave a fresh translation straight from the Hebrew or the Greek, and I never heard him stumble on a single word of any passage in the Scripture.  He knew it that well.  

Sheila: Oh, that’s amazing.  

Philip: He took the family to Jordan for an archaeological expedition.  And afterwards, we went into Israel.  And when he would speak in Hebrew, it was like Shakespeare coming back to London.  That was his life.  And it was great.  We had wonderful adventures, visited over 30 countries.  I have gobs of memories.  I love it.  Dad was fun.  And for me, it seemed to work out really well.  So when I went to Cambridge, I had always attended churches where there were only men preaching.  Never women.  And I remember in my—one of the very first lectures I attended at Cambridge, the lecturer stated that there is no passage in the New Testament, properly understood in its original context, that limits the ministry of women.  I almost stood up and shouted, “That’s not true.”  Now I was thinking 1 Timothy 2:12, which I had learned as, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man.”  But I didn’t want to make enemies that early in my studies.  So I decided I am going to get my ducks in a row so if anyone ever makes such a ridiculous claim in the future I can instantly prove them wrong.  So that night I went home and I read 1 Timothy in Greek.  And I noticed a whole bunch of things.  So the next night I read it again.  And the next night.  And I realized that virtually every sentence of the letter relates to issues in the first paragraph about the false teachers.  The entire letter is instructions on how to deal with a crisis and false teaching that was threatening the life of the church in Ephesus.  Well, in light of that—and especially in light of the statement in chapter 5 that some of the younger widows had already followed after Satan and were going about from house to house saying things they ought not—and, of course, the churches met in the homes.  

Sheila: Right.

Philip: And it describes their false teaching as foolery.  Purveyors of foolish philosophy.  After the initial false teachers have been excluded by Paul, there are no references to any man being deceived by the false teachers.  But there are plenty about women.  So in that situation, it would make perfect sense for Paul to limit the teaching of women.  I thought—

Sheila: So this really threw you.  You’re like, “Wow.”  

Philip: I can’t get through this guy.  I wonder about the other passages.”  And so I began looking at one after another.  Like in 1 Timothy chapter 3, you have these instructions for overseers.  And every version I’d ever read said, “He must be this.  Whatever man desires to be an overseer, he must be.”  But in the Greek, it’s, “Whoever desires the office of overseer must be.”  Not whatever man.  And most versions have 10 to 14 masculine pronouns, he, him, his, embedded in those requirements for the office of overseer.  In Greek, there’s not a single one.  Everything flows from whoever desires the office of overseer desires a noble task.  And then there’s not a single masculine restriction after that.  I had thought that the reference to a man of one woman.  Well, how can a woman be a man of one woman?  So this must be a reference to women overseers.  But I found that Chrysostom, even though he says that women should not be in authority over men and he says all kinds of things derogatory of women, when he comes to this passage, he says deacons must be men of one women.  This is also appropriate to say regarding women deacons.  

Sheila: And for our listeners, what’s the word?  Chrysostom was an early Christian writer.

Philip: Yeah.  John Chrysostom was the bishop of Constantinople.  The word Chrysostom means golden mouth.  He was the most eloquent and most prolific of any Christian writer.  In fact, there’s only one Greek writer in all of antiquity with more words preserved of his teaching than Chrysostom, and that’s Galen, the medical writer.  So Chrysostom had huge influence on the church.  But he recognized that when the Greek text does not limit it to man and when it begins with whoever, this must apply to all people.  

Sheila: Right.

Philip: Now when we read our English text, we often see masculine pronouns.  And we assume that oh, this is referring to a man.  However, in Greek, it was conventional whenever you’re speaking about a group of people you use the masculine form.    

Sheila: Yeah.  French does it too.  French does it too.  If there is a group, you use il.  In the plural.  

Philip: And so the masculine form does not exclude women.  In fact, the presumption is it would include them unless the context excludes them.  Tim Friberg, who is a complementarian, a friend of mine, and the editor of The Analytical Greek New Testament, has done study of every occurrence of masculine forms in the New Testament.  And he found that in the New Testament they would be putting 7,508,000 cases where there’s a masculine form that either must apply to women or could apply to women.  That’s almost one per verse in the New Testament.  It’s very, very common.  Furthermore, especially when you have the form whoever—“So whoever would come after Me, let him deny himself.  And take up his cross and follow Me.”  I mean Jesus isn’t saying this is only for men.  It’s for all believers.  And any Greek would understand that because they assume that.  In fact, there are two places that Milligan in his grammar identifies even though the group is entirely women—women washing the body of a girl that had died and women weeping and wailing in a funeral, the masculine form is used to describe that group of women because it’s a group of people. 

Sheila: Right.  So you do this research.  And your eyes are opened.  And you realize that all the arguments for men being over women aren’t true.  And so I want to walk through some of the things that you talk about in your book because I know that these are questions that my listeners are going to have.  So let me just start out by asking a basic question.  Should the view of women actually matter?  We often get told, “This is just a secondary issue.  It isn’t primary.”  And so should we really be fighting over this?  So why do you think the view of women is so important?

Philip: I think Paul describes it in Galatians chapter 2.  In Galatians 2, remember, the visit by Peter and then a group of people from Jerusalem had come.  And then because of their influence, Peter withdrew from table fellowship with the Gentiles.  And Paul writes in Galatians chapter 2:11, “I confronted Cephas to his face and told him, ‘You are acting contrary to the gospel.  You’re a hypocrite.’”  So this is very strong language.  And he follows up in the next chapter with a theological basis for why this is important to the gospel.  And he says, “In Christ, there is no Jew, Greek division.  There is no slave, free division.  There is no male, female division for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  To him, this was a gospel issue.  The standing before Christ.  And I think we find it’s important in looking at the history of missions.  Look at the role that women have had in missions in spreading the gospel.  It’s been enormous.  If we exclude women from any aspect of ministry, this will hinder the spread of the gospel.  Now when I was—my grandmother and grandfather were missionaries in Japan.  And my mother was born in Osaka.  So I grew up with a fascination about things Japanese.  And in fact, immediately after college instead of going to med school, I chose to go to Japan as a short term missionary.  And I found that in the history of Japanese missions women did not have nearly as prominent a place as they had in Korea.  In Korea, the Bible woman was the backbone of the church planting effort and the backbone of the church growth.  And that was—today the Christian church in Korea is far stronger than in Japan.  After I finished my doctorate, I immediately went to Japan as a missionary with the Evangelical Free church.  And while I was there, I had so many discussions with missionaries, who were women, who said, “My Japanese coworkers are urging me to teach and preach.  And I don’t feel comfortable about that because of my Bible background.  And yet, I feel like the Holy Spirit is calling me to do this.  What should I do?”  There arose this great tension.  And so I was able to show, “Well, why is it you think this might not be wrong?”  And we looked at those passages and realized Scripture doesn’t restrict that at all.  It’s a misunderstanding.  And so many women, who were missionaries there, felt that freedom.  “Yes.  I can follow the Spirit’s guidance.  I can use the gifts the Spirit has given to me.”  And it gave freedom to the church.  But some of those same women when they went back to America, they could not in U.S. churches do what they had done in Japan.

Sheila: Right.  Right.  Interestingly, you also said—and I’ve heard this before—that the same passages that were used to defend slavery by Christians 150 years ago are being used today to defend limiting women.

Philip: That is exactly true.  

Sheila: Yeah.  And back in those days, a lot of Christians didn’t speak up even though they knew slavery was wrong because they didn’t want to cause divisions.  And they really perpetuated a lot of harm.  And are we doing the same thing today?   

Philip: Right.  There’s another aspect.  And that has to do with the importance in marriage of having a relationship of mutual submission, mutual love.  I grew up assuming—in fact, long after I had concluded that women could do anything in the church—and by the way, my father, even though he was the head of the house and believed that he had the right to make the final decision, in church, he recognized that there should be no restrictions on women in the ministry.  And he taught that.  And he hits some opposition because of that.  So for me, long after I had concluded that the New Testament encourages all believers to exercise the gifts that the Spirit gives them for the common good and that there is no restriction on who can be an elder, who can be an overseer, it’s God’s calling and gifting that prevail.  Nevertheless, I was keen, when I got married, that my wife would vow to submit to my authority.  I kind of enjoyed having that power, the authority, of being the head of the house.  Well, gradually as I studied and I studied the use of the word head in Greek, I realized I have misunderstood this passage.  I began to study the different lexicons, and I found virtually all secular Greek lexicons give no support for the word head meaning person in authority over or person in rank before as BDAG lists it.  From the very beginning of the Greek dictionary history, even going back to the 9th century, the meaning head as source is explained in Greek dictionaries and in the 12th century and in the 15th century, the 16th century.  I could give you a list of 20 dictionaries, if we want to take all the time, that list the meaning source.  

Sheila: Source.  And to clarify, what you’re saying is that the Greek word for the husband is head of the wife is kephale.  And in these Greek dictionaries, it says that kephale means source.  It doesn’t mean authority or being over.

Philip: Exactly.  The correct pronunciation is kephale.

Sheila: Oh, sorry.  Yes.  Kephale.

Philip: Kephale.  It’s interesting.  So many people have read the work of Wayne Grudem.  And Wayne Grudem makes the following statement.  This is on page 206 of the book.  “All recognized dictionaries for ancient Greek or their editors now give kephale the meaning person in authority over or something similar but none give the meaning source.”  I thought, “That’s virtually opposite of the truth.”  Now you have these dozens of Greek dictionaries listing the meaning source.  I have not found a single secular Greek dictionary that lists even one example of head meaning person in authority over prior to the 4th century AD.  300 years after the New Testament.  Not one example.  And tons of examples where it means source.

Sheila: Sort of like—think of it—for our listeners, think of it as head of a river like the source of a river.  

Philip: Exactly.  (cross talk) for instance.  And it’s not just in the plural.  But Galen twice used this singular to refer to the head, kephale, of the river meaning its source.  The context makes it unquestionably clear he’s referring to source.  Well, I came back to the passage, and I look at Ephesians 5.  And I see verse 22 translated in most of our versions—in Greek, it is verse 21.  “Submitting one to another out of reverence for Christ.  Wives to your own husbands as to the Lord because man is the source of woman as also Christ is the source of the church.  He, the Savior, of the body.”  And then he goes on to explain that Christ gave Himself up for the church.  That’s what brought the church into existence.  He was the source.  But my translations in English all said, “Wives, submit to your husbands.”  But Jerome said there’s not a single Greek manuscript that has the word submit in that sentence.  It derives the verb from the beginning of the sentence submitting one to another.  And that’s a reciprocal pronoun.  It’s not reciprocal unless it goes both ways.  It’s the context—for the call for wives to submit to the husbands is in the context of mutual submission.  If you were a Hellenistic reader and you read this, what would strike you is this amazing series of commands to husbands to love their wives and to give themselves for their wives and then nurture their wives.  This is revolutionary in the culture.  It’s just absolutely the striking point of the chapter.  We come to the passage, and we read it.  And the big focus is on wives, submit to your husbands.  But the verb submit is not even in that sentence.  The verb that it’s depending on is mutual submission.  But the longest passage in Paul about marriage is 1 Corinthians chapter 7.  And in that passage, 12 times he addresses an issue and addresses husbands and wives equally.  He says, “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but her husband does.  And the husband does not have authority over his own body, but his wife does.”  In Greek culture, that is (cross talk).  It’s just mind blowing.  And in every one of the 12 instances, Paul uses parallel, symmetrical language to reinforce that husbands and wives have equal rights, equal responsibilities.  And he applies it to all these 12 different areas.  So having looked at those passages again and realized that this mutual submission is fundamental and it’s not just in the passages about marriage.  Every time Paul uses the one another expression it’s treating the other as oneself.  The one anothers are sole egalitarian in their focus.  And I realized my wanting to be the head of the home is not a biblical idea.  Well, when Dad came to Japan, he had been giving lectures all over India and Korea and Japan.  He wanted to climb Mount Fuji.  Dad is an avid mountain climber.  He climbed Mount Olympus and Mount Whitney and many mountains.  And this was his one chance to climb Mount Fuji.  Well, the day he planned to go the weather was terrible.  And it was raining and windy.  And Mom said, “Barton, don’t go.  No.  This is not safe.”  And he said, “I want to go.  And I have the right to go.”  And I said, “Dad, look.  Look at the weather.  This would be crazy to climb Mount Fuji today.”  And my wife said, “Please don’t go.”  But Dad said, “No.  This is my only chance.  I am going to—I won’t cause anyone any trouble.”  And he went.  And he said, “I’ll see you.”  We were going to move from Tokyo down to Kyoto that same weekend.  He said, “I’ll see you back in Kyoto.”  So he went.  And when we got back in Kyoto, the day he was supposed to arrive, he didn’t arrive.  And I called the people in Tokyo where we had been staying and where he had been teaching.  And none of them had heard what had happened.  So they sent teams of students from the seminary where he had been teaching to Mount Fuji  to look for Barton.  And because the weather was so stormy, the authorities would not permit the Americans to ascend in helicopters to look.  Furthermore, they said, “Anyone who comes to climb Mount Fuji alone intends to commit suicide.  And we shouldn’t try to stop that.”  Well, we knew that wasn’t Dad.  So students were searching.  And I came up to join the search.  One of the people that had talked to Dad about this before going up there said, “I remember telling him this is the path you take to go up to Mount Fuji.”  And when the ranger heard that, he said, “No.  You led him up that path.  That path leads to a place where many people have died.”  It’s just the path up to the circular path around the mountain.  But because so many people go up there, it looks like the path continues beyond the circular path.  So then the searchers went up that path to look.  And one team had an experienced hiker who got a cramp high up on the mountain.  He had never had a cramp.  He’s this great hiker.  But at that point, he had a cramp.  Because of that, the rest of the search party spread out.  And one of them found Dad’s body up there.  I came up the next day and helped carry the body down.  And I realized if only Dad had believed in mutual submission and that he was not the head of the family with final authority but he owed submission to his wife he would not have gone up there.  He would not have died on Mount Fuji.  He was 56 years old.  A brilliant scholar.  He had been the president of the Evangelical Theological Society.  It was such a loss.  And I realized this is not a minor issue.  This is a major issue with huge impact on the lives of every marriage.  

Sheila: Thank you for sharing that.  I know that’s—that’s just heart breaking.  But I hear the passion that you have.  In your book, you say that you’re really passionate about two things.  You say that you’re trying to argue both for biblical inerrancy and the equality of women.

Philip: Yes.  

Sheila: And yet, so many people say you can’t have both. 

Philip: Well, actually, it’s a lot harder to uphold inerrancy and to demand a hierarchy in marriage and the other.  Let me give you an example.  People often say that 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 must be part of the New Testament authoritative text.  And it says, “Women must be silent in the churches for they are not permitted to speak but must be in subjection as even the Law says.  If a woman desires to learn, let her ask her husband at home for it is a disgrace for a woman to speak in church.”  Well, let’s just think about that.  It’s preceded by, “I desire you all to prophesy.”  It’s followed by, “I desire you all to prophesy.”  How are women going to prophesy if they’re silent?  That’s really hard to do.

Sheila: And in 1 Corinthians 11, Paul actually gives explicit instructions on how women are to prophesy in church.  Yes. 

Philip: Exactly.  He’s been saying this.  And furthermore, you have Phillip’s daughters, who prophesied.  You have the prophecy of Elizabeth, of Mary—

Sheila: Anna.

Philip: Hannah.  All these Old Testament women prophets as well as New Testament.  Huldah, Deborah.  And how can women prophesy if they’re silent?  Well, the complementarian answer is typically it’s not absolute silence here.  It is a restricted silence.  The only thing that is being permitted is the questioning of prophets.  Well, that was actually six topics earlier.  And no one reading that letter would have understood that.  In fact, no commentator in the entire history of Christian exegetical research has ever suggested until 1950 in Australia that this might refer to the questioning of prophets.  But if it does refer to the questioning of prophets, then verse 34 permits women that is not questioning prophets because that’s the only thing being prohibited.  Okay?  But verse 35 prohibits speech that has nothing to do with questioning of prophets, about women asking questions out of a desire to learn, out of a desire to learn implies that the person asking the question does not know the answer and wants to learn out of a desire to learn.  When you’re a judge or a prophet, you know the answer, and you heard something that was wrong.  And you’re criticizing that wrong answer.  So that view—and it’s the view that’s uphill by almost the entire complementarian community now.  According to that view, verse 34 permits what verse 35 prohibits.  That’s a contradiction.  How do you hold inerrancy and also a contradiction?  As I’ve studied the passage, I must admit for many years I defended interpretations of that passage that I now realize are implausible.  No first century reader would have read it the way I was interpreting it.  

Sheila: Are you excited by what Philip Payne is sharing?  Does this idea that biblical womanhood does not mean something where we are less than but instead is about who God made us to be and that we can fully exercise our gifts?  If that is exciting to you, do check out our biblical womanhood merchandise?  We have two different designs.  What it means to be a biblical woman where you can pray like Hannah, where you can teach like Priscilla, where you can lead like Deborah, where you can win battles like Jael, so check that out.  And we also have our biblical womanhood merch where what does biblical womanhood mean.  Well, it’s prayer and tent pegs and prophesy and leadership and preaching the gospel to all that will hear.  The link for those things are in the podcast notes.  You can get mugs, stickers, magnets, canvas tote bags, T-shirts, anything.  And let’s spread the message that God loves women too.  Okay.  Let’s get back to some of the things that you found about women.  So in your book, The Bible and Biblical Womanhood, you go through really—

Philip: Actually, the title is The Bible vs. Biblical Womanhood.

Sheila: Right.  The Bible vs. Biblical—sorry.  Sorry.  

Philip: Because I’m arguing that biblical womanhood as defined today, namely women being subordinate in submission and only men being leaders in the church, only men having authority over men, only men teaching, that might be a biblical womanhood.  That is not biblical.  It’s the Bible versus biblical womanhood.

Sheila: Right.  Exactly.  Okay.  You start at the beginning of the Bible, and you work through all the major passages that people use to limit women in some way.  And you show why that isn’t a proper interpretation.  And then you answer some objections.  And I want to just touch on a couple of them.  There’s too many to deal with in their entirety.  But I really encourage people to get the book.  It’s really readable.  It’s going to answer all your questions.  It’s really well done.  It’s so biblically based.  But I want to bring up some of the common things that I hear a lot and throw them to you so that you can answer them.  So one of them, Jesus chose only male disciples.  What do you say to that?

Philip: Okay.  Well, at first glance, this does appear to indicate Jesus is giving special authority to the men.  However, when you think about it—think about the logic.  Jesus chose only male apostles.  Therefore, only males can be church leaders.  Well, first of all, Jesus chose only Jewish apostles.  Therefore, could Gentiles be church leaders?  Well, of course, they can be church leaders.  So the logic breaks down.  Jesus chose only free persons as apostles.  Therefore, slaves could not be church leaders.  And yet, Onesimus became the bishop of Ephesus.  He was the church leader.  So the logic breaks down.  But furthermore, it’s not just the logic.  The idea that Jesus chose only male apostles, therefore, only males can be apostles, but Paul says in the closing of Romans 16:7 he greets Andronicus and Junia.  Junia is a common woman’s name for which we have no evidence of it being a man’s name.  The only person in all of church history that identified it as a man also interpret Priscilla as a man.

Sheila: Right.  Even though Priscilla and Aquila are obviously a married couple.  Yes.

Philip: So that doesn’t really count.  And it’s not just that Junia is an apostle.  She’s (inaudible).  She’s outstanding among the apostles.  So yes.  Women can be apostles.  They can be outstanding among the apostles.  Who were the two people in the early church who had the greatest influence?  They were Paul and James.  So when the Jerusalem council assembled, James is the one who takes the lead and gives the conclusion.  And Paul—it’s his position that’s approved.  Well, they were not of the 12, but he led the church.  Therefore to say the 12 define church leadership breaks down.  Now Jesus never explains why He chose 12.  But I think the two reasons that are pretty obvious for this—one is that Jesus spent a lot of time like in the Garden of Gethsemane— He’s out in the wilderness with His disciples.  If women had been disciples along with Jesus, it would have undermined the credibility not just of Jesus but of the other apostles because they’re out there gallivanting with these women.  Secondly, we have all through the New Testament so many references to the 12 representing the 12 tribes of Israel.  This is a new Israel in Christ.  And so in order to parallel the 12 patriarchs, you needed 12 apostles who are men.  

Sheila: Now I love what you said too later about how Mary Magdalene became the apostle to the apostles.   

Philip: Oh yes.  

Sheila: And that was given to her by Jesus.  That was deliberate.  Choosing a woman to tell the men that Jesus had risen.

Philip: Yeah.  And Jesus didn’t choose her because He knew she would be effective and persuade everyone that Jesus is alive.  They didn’t believe her.  If you look at all four Gospels, it’s really a put down on the 12.  Again and again, they misunderstand Jesus.  They misunderstand the type of leadership He wants in the church.  Jesus wants servant leaders.  He wants people who will wash the feet.  If you look at the terms of leaders in the New Testament, you have diakonos.  It’s a servant.  Paul speaks of himself as a doulos, a slave of Christ, again and again and again.  In fact, when Paul refers to other Christian leaders as a servant or a slave, that’s the highest praise you can give them.  You don’t have the archon.  That’s the Greek word for the ruler.  The person in rank before who has control over.  I’m not saying that there is no leadership in the church or that leadership is not important because Paul does say, “First, apostles.  Second, prophets.  Third, teachers.”  And he desires, “I want you all to desire the higher advance especially that you might prophesy.”  And women prophesy all through the New Testament.  And the Old Testament.  And the prophecy is closely associated with authoritative speech from God.  But in every case, church leadership is derived.  It is not intrinsic.  

Sheila: Right. 

Philip: So a person may be a bishop, but that doesn’t mean he’s always right.  A person may be a prophet, but that doesn’t mean you should not examine the prophecy to see if it’s true.  You want the other prophets to weigh the prophecy.  Paul says, “Even if I were an angel from Heaven should preach a different gospel, don’t believe it.”  So it’s not because I am an apostle, therefore, everything I say you have to believe and obey.   The authority comes from the Holy Spirit, who gifts and who guides and who gives us a message to proclaim to the people.  

Sheila: I love that.  Okay.  Let’s move into Acts.  The book of Acts.  And go into chapter 5.  And I love your take on Ananias and Sapphira and what that tells us about how Peter saw male headship.  So can you elaborate on that?

Philip: Okay.  First, Ananias is called in.  And Peter says, “Is this the amount that you got for selling the property that you’ve given to the church?”  Ananias said, “Yes.”  And Peter says, “How could you lie to the Spirit?”  And Ananias falls over, and the young men take him out and bury him.  Later Sapphira comes in.   

Sheila: Who is his wife.  His wife comes in.

Philip: Who is his wife.  And she knew about the plan.  And she knew what it was sold for.  She knew that they were giving part of it, withholding part of it.  And Peter said, “Is this the amount you received from the property?”  She said, “Yes.  It is.”  And she dies.  And the young men take her out and bury her.  So the question is, is this supporting or is it undermining the idea of the husband as the head of the wife, the head of the family, the one to whom the wife should always defer and submit?  Should Sapphira have submitted to Ananias’s plan to do this?  Well, I think the evidence of the dead body makes it pretty clear that was not the right thing to do.  Well, what should she have done?  She should have told the truth.

Sheila: Right.  

Philip: So if one starts with the assumption that the husband has the authority and the wife has an obligation to submit to whatever the husband does and to support it, then this is—here’s a Bible story that makes it very clear that is not what God intends.

Sheila: Yeah.  And it also shows that she wasn’t—yeah.  Because she wasn’t let off the hook.  If they really believed that Ananias was the head and so he had the right to make decisions, then she would not have been punished.  I think that’s what’s so interesting because they would have said, “Yeah.  Because he’s responsible for her sin.  He’s responsible for that, and she is not.”  But that’s not what happened.

Philip: No.  And I think it’s significant that the Spirit included this in inspired Scripture.  The Spirit is saying, “Caution.”  Of understanding of marriage is wrong.  And it’s not just my opinion.  Look what God did.

Sheila: Yeah.  Yeah.  Okay.  Let’s move on into the book of Romans.  Or maybe this is still in Acts.  I can’t remember.  But let’s talk about Phoebe.  You mentioned this word a minute ago.  Diakonos which is usually translated as deacon in the New Testament.  But when it applies to Phoebe, people have often translated it as servant even though it’s the same word.  So can you tell us about Phoebe?  Who she was and what role she played.

Philip: Okay.  Phoebe is remarkable.  Phoebe is the one to whom Paul entrusted his most important letter to the Romans.  And Phoebe brought it to the church in Rome.  We know that because chapter 16 verses 1 and 2 says, “I commend to you Phoebe.”  Well, how is he commending someone if she is not there?  And how do they know that she is the one because she has brought the letter?  Were there other people with Phoebe?  I don’t know.  However, if there were other people—let’s say that in addition to Phoebe he sent his favorite friends, Timothy and Titus and maybe some others too and some elders from the church.  You’ve got this group of people all protecting this precious manuscript.  Well, how would you feel if you were Timothy?  And by the way, 7 of Paul’s letters refer to Timothy as being involved in producing letters.  So he’s really involved a lot.  Phoebe is up there.  And the letter is read.  “I commend to you Phoebe.”  And he never commends Timothy.  He never commends Titus.  He never commends these other people.  It’s kind of a put down to them (cross talk).  Furthermore, he says, “Whatever she asks you to do, do it.”  But they don’t.  Whatever Timothy asks you to do—that’s kind of a put down for all the other people.  If it’s a group of people.  So furthermore, we find in Paul’s letters that he repeatedly—when there are more than one person involved, he specifies that.  So he says, “I sent to you Timothy and the brother.”  Okay.  Someone is acknowledged there.  When he’s sending people to take a gift from the church in Corinth, he says, “I sent the brothers to you.”  And of course, (inaudible) could include women as well as men.  That is a standard term in Greek for brothers and sisters.  But in that case—and he refers again to a group of people that they approve carrying the gift back to Jerusalem.  So there are references to multiple people traveling together carrying something precious.  But in that case, it’s a sum of money where having people to protect the money was important to keep the money safe.

Sheila: Right.

Philip: It also takes away the—any implication that somebody might have embezzled funds because it’s under group control.  I don’t know if someone else came with Phoebe.  But if it was someone else, it would not have been someone as important in Paul’s eyes as Phoebe.  And what I find particularly significant is the way Phoebe is described here.  She is described as deacon of the church at Cenchreae.  That’s a specific title.  Deacon of the church in Cenchreae.  Churches at that time didn’t have servants.  They met in someone’s home.  And the person might have a servant in the home, but the church didn’t have a servant.  So it wouldn’t fit the context to say servant.

Sheila: And just to clarify, the reason this is an issue is that in English translations of the New Testament the deacon of referring to servant is used when it was a woman who was called a deacon.  What you’re thinking—what I’m thinking is that this was a biased translation because the translators didn’t want to acknowledge that a woman could have been a deacon.  Because the name—the word is the same.  If it’s referring to men or women, it’s diakonos.  It’s the same word.

Philip: So several things come here.  The expression (inaudible) and the form of the term is masculine.  So she is a diakonos, not a diakonia.  So some translations say deaconess.  But it’s not a feminine form.  It’s a masculine form.  Now she—and it doesn’t say a deacon.  Just she, deacon of the church at Cenchreae.  And it goes on to say, “Give her whatever she needs because she has been a prostatis of many including myself also.”  Well, prostatis is the term used for the president of the synagogue or the president of an association.  “For she has been the prostatis of many including myself also.”  Well, some people said, “Maybe it means she is the benefactor of many.”  So she’s a wealthy a woman.  She was generous.  Problem is we know from 1st century documents that benefactors were called euergetes.  It’s a different term.  Eu, which means good, and ergos, like an (inaudible) power—people who do good works.  And people who are benefactors like to be called people who do good works because it associates them not so much with power as with generosity.  Doing good things.  And today.  Today as well.  People like to be called benefactors.  In the New Testament, whenever the word benefactor occurs, it’s euergetes not prostatis.  And whenever the term prostatis is used in the New Testament, no matter whether it’s a verb or preposition—I mean a verb or a participle or a noun—it is always associated with leadership.   Someone who is an overseer, must govern well.  The (inaudible), the verb, the same word.  Some people said, “Maybe it means patron.”  Something like benefactor but patron because it was a patron client society.  It’s a huge part of 1st century culture.  The patron is the one who provides financial support for someone else.  And a client then has an obligation to do whatever the patron wants him to do.  And particularly, the term patras in Latin refers to the one who became the legal representative of a foreigner.  Someone who did not have their own Roman citizenship but needed protection.  Problem is that Paul was a Roman citizen.  He didn’t need a patron.  So C. K. Barrett says that meaning cannot apply to Paul.  But let’s go to the other—the patron client.  Would Paul have put himself into a patron client relationship where he was obligated to do whatever the patron said?  

Sheila: No.

Philip: If you read Paul’s letters, it’s chuck full of statements that I worked with my own hands.  And I was not dependent on anyone.  He was a fiercely independent, not under anyone else’s control, type of guy.  So while I can’t 100% exclude the possibility that it could have meant patron, because it is the normal expression for the president of a society and because we already know from deacon of the church at   Cenchreae that she is a leader of the church in Cenchreae it makes to understand it she has been a leader of many including myself also.  Well, when Paul wrote to churches, he told them to submit to one another, and he said to submit to your leaders.  Honor them.  Give those who teach and work in the Word double honor.  If he’s in the church of Cenchreae and she’s the leader of the church and she has that responsibility, would Paul submit to her leadership?  Well, if he does what he tells everybody else to do, he’d have to.  It makes sense.  So this the injurious terminology to anyone who believes that women should not have authority over men because here you have Paul saying that she has been a leader of many including myself also.

Sheila: Right.

Philip: If you look at Romans 16—we’re just beginning here.  There are a whole bunch of people who are given greetings.  Of those, 10 are identified specifically for their Christian ministry, their work in the gospel, for working hard in the gospel.  And 7 of the 10 are women.  7 of 10 are women.  If Paul did not believe in women leadership in the church, would he have identified 7 of 10—and by the way of the 3 men that are there, 2 are listed with their wives.  So husband wife teams are working together mutually.  And Adronicus and Junia, who are mentioned here, they are both outstanding among the apostles.  So you have this—it begins with Phoebe and calls her a prostatis, like president of the association and deacon of the church at Cenchreae, apostle.  This is—I do not know of any surviving Hellenistic literature where such a high proportion of an open society are women listed as leaders of that society.  This is remarkable.

Sheila: Romans 16 is an, honestly, remarkable chapter.  I’ve really appreciated Philip sharing this with us.  We’ve decided to break his interview into two because we have so much more to share.  So you’re going to hear the end of that interview next week on the podcast.  But thank you so much for joining us.  Remember next week the Fixed It For You book also launches.  So it’s going to be a great week here.  And I know that you’re going to want to listen to the rest of what Philip Payne has to say.  Remember you can preorder his book, The Bible vs. Biblical Womanhood.  The link is in the podcast notes.  It’s a great one to preorder.  You’re going to love it.  I found it so easy to read and just really insightful and very focused on Scripture.  So check that out.  And we will see you again next week for the end of this interview.  Bye-bye.

Did anything Philip Payne say surprise you? What were you taught about women? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Angharad

    Wow! I am definitely going to read this book when it comes out. Mostly, I’ve heard these verses get dismissed as ‘Paul being a misogynist’ (which is obviously not true because of the way he writes about women elsewhere) or being due to the early church not wanting to be radical or upset those outside the church – which is even more ridiculous, bearing in mind how radical Jesus’ teaching was. This is the first explanation of some of those ‘women have different roles’ verses that has made sense to me.

    And I’m so glad you differentiate between the Bible and biblical womanhood. Recently, I’m hearing so many people talking about the difference between what the Bible says and what Jesus says, but that’s rubbish. There can’t be any contradiction between the Bible and Jesus because Jesus is the embodiment of God’s Word. But there can be a whole lot of contradiction between Jesus and what fallible sinful HUMANS have decided the Bible means! Which is why I like the small ‘b’ for biblical womanhood – because I don’t think there is much that is truly Biblical (large ‘B’) about it!

    • Marie

      I love this comment so much! This is exactly how I think/feel about it all as well, but you articulated it better than I could!!

      • Learning to be beloved

        There’s more to it than just an accurate translation of the words, although some translations are better than others (generally, I like the Common English bible but there are disappointing mistranslations in it, too.) We need the cultural context of the words because we’re reading messages written in different languages to people of different cultures thousands of years in the past. Some commentaries help to fill in this knowledge gap, while others twist scripture to support the status quo. I am not an archeologist, linguist or scholar, but I appreciate the work of those who are.

    • Phil

      Angharad – I agree there is no contradiction of the Bible and Jesus. I loved “But there can be a whole lot of contradiction between Jesus and what fallible sinful HUMANS have decided the Bible means!”. That is definitely one of the primary problems. The Bible only exists because of Jesus. If Jesus doesn’t come and die for us and resurrect there is no Bible. (Andy Stanley quote). Therefore what is Biblical is Jesus. So when I read the bible no matter what version I read (my collection is growing) I read it as this is what Jesus meant…

  2. Nathan

    > > due to the early church not wanting to be radical or upset those outside the church

    This is what I’ve most often heard

    • Angharad

      Because obviously someone who went around calling the religious leaders of the day ‘whited sepulchres’, chucking money changers out of the temple and talking one-to-one with ‘fallen’ women was just desperate not to offend anyone…

    • Phil

      I was thinking about it more and I was thinking just free will…but yeah I follow your thought there…

  3. Phil

    Love your proofs Sheila and of course Philip. While I do enjoy breaking this down I still think it just comes back to the simple answer that is what Jesus meant, not what anyone else thinks was meant by what was written. To me the proofs just confirm that. I wanted to add in on the number 12. Philip referenced 1 Corinthians 7 and how it was addresses 12 times that men and woman are equal. Then the discussion about the 12 disciples came up and the 12 tribes of Israel. I go back a little further with this. The number 12 in the bible is always pointed at the 12 tribes and the 12 disciples. I say this. When the number 12 references the twelve tribes thats means not just men but EVERYONE! Besides the fun part about that is the sex 🤣. Now on the 12 disciples thing my thought went a bit different and maybe not so biblical. Here are my thoughts that I think are plausible. Jesus chose men because at that time woman really didn’t have a whole lot of ability to have public influence. Not saying they shouldn’t have but they just didn’t. It was the way of the times. I dont get to choose that. It was fact. Now Jesus had enough problems. Could you imagine the miracles he would have had to pull off to convince men of that time women were equal? Look at the battle of today. We have people today like Philip who understand, but we have an entire world of people who still think men dominate it. I kind if half wonder if this problem was left for MAN and woman to solve together….its a tough one for sure and its interesting to me today how sensitive I am to it. I used to nod at ideas like are pitched around here. Today I get a little ticked when I hear it and I even speak up. Good stuff Sheila – look forward to next week part 2. There is something to be said about the numbers.

  4. Mara R

    Philip Payne at the 29:09 mark in the podcast: “Actually, it is a lot harder to uphold inerrancy AND to demand a hierarchy in marriage and the other.”

    This is so true.
    And yet the hierarchalists labor tirelessly to try to say the opposite. Then they complain about the ‘feminist’ agenda.
    Dear. Sweet. Hierarchalists. There is definitely and agenda going on in the fight for Bible Inerrancy. But you can’t blame the feminists for an agenda as long as you cling to your own agenda like a drowning man clings to a life raft in a swirling sea. IOW, when you make your own agenda into the hill upon which to die, you have given yourself little room to judge any other perceived agenda.

  5. Anonymous305

    My pastor says that he believes the “authority” interpretation instead of “source” because Jesus has authority, and husbands should be like Christ. He doesn’t go as far as to say that the husband is the intercesor, but some do. However, the intercesor role is disproven by scripture (1 Timothy 2:5), so the husband can’t take all the roles of Jesus, which makes the authority role less clear.

    • Jo R

      As I suggested a few posts back, perhaps you should ask your pastor which example of Jesus’s actions he’ll be copying tonight: being celibate, or being crucified.

      Sarcasm, not sarcasm.

      Oh, and by the way, how do men who believe that they’re representing Christ in the marriage, especially when they’re also told they’re in charge and their wives should defer to them, not eventually start thinking that they’re so like Christ that they become omniscient like God, at least in their own eyes? “How dare you question me and my decision?!?!” 🙄

    • Phil

      My understanding of what authority is given to US is to speak the word of God with authority. That’s it. It doesnt mean I have authority over you or anyone else. Thats an abuse of modern language. This may not be your Pastors intention and you should ask him what he means by that…but we as humans hold beliefs in our subconscious. I call it the ace in the hole. We store stuff in our subconscious so we can use it later to protect ourselves prop ourselves up etc. it is not about us! Its about Jesus! Here in the US our laws are black and white. When you get into our courts you find out it’s GRAY/GREY all over. While our legal system is far from perfect I think my example is relevant in the sense of that was Jesus. He was black and white and gray all over. Parables is my example here. I think we often interpret scripture the way that is convenient for us. Why? Because we are lazy. If I just say my belief’s and interpretations align with Jesus then I dont have to do the work. If I interpret scripture the way I want to and not how God wants us to then I dont have to change. , in this case lose my authority or power. Philip is our example here. He originally wanted to stand up and fight that women infact were not equal to men. However, Philip did the work and he found the truth. I would be willing to put money down on my answer here. the same thing recently happened with my pastor. I challenged him on the books he was giving to engaged couples and he pushed back I could see why. He has counseled many couples 40 years what do I know? however, when I do sit down with him I’m going to have my ducks in a row, but really all I’m going to need to say is if the message in these books hurts just one person Luke chapter 15 then that message is wrong and it needs to be changed. We need to go after the 1. I truly believe that my pastor will get that and will consider change because he is that quality type of person….ok I need to get off my soap box now…

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Our husbands are not Jesus. Jesus was also sinless. Does your pastor think husbands are sinless too? The whole thing makes no sense.

  6. Learning to be beloved

    Love this! Can’t wait for next week.
    Philip Payne reminds me of Marg Mowczko at https://margmowczko.com/margs-articles/
    Her writings helped me salvage my faith.
    Mr. Payne, you are so right: this IS a gospel issue.

  7. NL

    Mr. Payne said something I’ve heard before and I have argued with it. My pastor has said something similar- that preaching/prophesying is the highest gift. While I am aware that Paul says he wishes that all would preach/prophesy, if we say definitively that preaching is the highest gift, doesn’t that contradict the passages that talk about all members of the body being necessary? In a church like the one I attend that is “soft (or not so very) complementarian,” that automatically sets up men as the spiritual superiors. I suppose Mr. Payne’s position on women in ministry mitigates that risk. But I still wonder how that passage balances out with those that encourage equity of the spiritual gifts.

  8. Willow

    In the Gospel of Thomas (which isn’t really a book but just a very early collection of sayings and brief anecdotes about Jesus a text much earlier than the canonical gospels, whose material was used in them), there are frequent and equal mentions of a disciple named Mary, who is mentioned as often and in the same context as Peter and John; in these very early anecdotes, there are only a few key disciples mentioned. This seems to be the same Mary that is part of the Bethany siblings (Martha, Mary, and Lazarus); there are hypotheses that those siblings were wealthy and financially supported Jesus’s itinerant ministry.

    What is interesting to me is that as the oral histories of Jesus’s life and ministry were eventually organized in the written form of the synoptics, and later John’s gospel, this key female disciple gets edited out.

    The earliest Christian art that survives, in the catacombs, seems to show females leading worship and key rites/sacraments.

    Very early Christianity was wildly popular among those who had the least power and position: women, and slaves, in particular. The religion preached (and still does) that they were equally formed in the image of God; equally were temples of the Holy Spirit, equally breathed the Spirit, that no person had power over them, not even in death, and that they equally were able to directly access the divine.

    It does not surprise me that those with privilege and power did all they could to twist the religion so they could maintain their grip over others.

    • Tim

      At the risk of taking us way off topic, what’s your basis for saying the gospel of Thomas is earlier (and also more accurate, you seem to be implying) than the canonical gospels?

  9. Katie

    Hi, I just got to listen to the podcast today, and this isn’t so much of comment as it is a question. Maybe it’s too late, and it the podcast sort of already answered it, but I’m going to try anyway.
    So, this podcast came right after my Sunday School started going over certain verses in Ephesians, and my teacher (who I’d have to say is complementarian, I’ll admit. In fact, while I can’t say I’m complementarian anymore, my church largely is, I’ll admit, thought I can’t speak to the view of everyone person in the entire church.) was talking about how verses 22 and 21 and how the Greek word for submit was Hobastasio (no clue if I’m spelling that right) referring to military rank and order and a voluntary not selfish act. There was also talk of alignment principle but men were not suppose to actually enforce anything? I don’t know, I guess while this interview help some I guess I’m still confused and I’m not even sure what I’m trying to ask anymore, so I guess, thoughts?
    My second one is merely just curiosity than anyone else, Phillip mentioned that one point in the interview that his father was actually pro women’s leadership in church (paraphrasing) and had even run up against opposition for doing so, so why was the notion of women not being restricted such an outrageous concept to him when he got to school?

  10. Jacqueline Ramjee

    Thanks Sheila and Phillip. A real balanced and well thought out, researched and biblical piece. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Philip saying all this stuff. I have listened to and read a few things by women saying the same things but when there are men out there saying and writing the same things, it doesn’t come over as some feminist agenda. Well done Phillip. Is there a translation of the bible you would recommend which better translates the male pronouns/words in a way that is inclusive? As you so clearly point out that most of the “misreading” of the new testament has come about because of mistranslation and not understanding how Greek grammar works!!

  11. EOF

    I loved this interview and I can’t wait for part two! I’m eager for the book. Such great stuff! Thank you Sheila for everything you do!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      So glad you liked it!

  12. dlc

    Is there an accurate English translation of the Bible? I want to encourage my kids to read the Bible, I am fearful that bad translation of the apistles may lead them astray.

    • Marie

      Good question, I’d be interested in an answer to this too. Was wondering if maybe there is a secular translation, although I doubt it. 🙁

  13. Theresa

    I really enjoyed listening to this podcast. I have been reevaluating a lot of my beliefs about certain Bible passages and questioning whether I have held to the right interpretation all these years.
    I’m still deliberating and have lots of questions.

    But, per the podcast, one thing Philip said that I wanted to question: The claim that since Sapphira was struck down, along with her husband, Ananias, this then shows that Peter didn’t hold to a hierarchal view of marriage because otherwise she wouldn’t have been held accountable for her sin of lying; she would have been under her husband’s headship. How is this conclusion drawn? No respectable complimentarian that I know would ever argue that it’s okay for wives to sin if their husbands tell them to. In fact, the line is drawn at sin. “Wives submit to your husbands in everything”, but just as Peter was called before the Sanhedrin and told to stop preaching, he stated, “it is better to obey God than man.” In otherwords, you do not obey authority when they tell you to sin. Sapphira had a choice, and was responsible before God to tell the truth. That example then, does not contradict a headship/authority view of marriage. It does in fact show that individuals, married or not, are responsible for their own sins. Seems like a straw man argument to me. But I am anxious to listen to the rest.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      The point is, though, that we are all accountable for what we do. That means that women have to use our brains. We have to listen to God ourselves. We are to follow God. Peter obviously believed this, so those who say that women must obey (using 1 Peter 3) are not interpreting Peter correctly, because Peter didn’t even do that.

    • shoshana

      Theresa-Ephesians 5:22 “Wives submit to your husbands in everything” isn’t necessarily talking about submitting to your husband on a daily basis just for wives. For example; The Blue Letter Bible shows different translations for the Greek phrase “en pas”. En pas can be translated “in all” or “everything”, but it also means “the whole” or a “collective”. What is a collective? It can mean “done by people acting as a group” or a “cooperative enterprise”. It seems to me the collective or the whole spoken of here is “the church”. As the church submits to Christ so wives should submit to their husbands in all. How is this done? The husband and wife are individual members of the collective i.e. the church and the church is told to submit to one another out of respect for Christ. In other words, wives are told to submit to their husbands as part of the collective submission of the church (which is also told to the husband). When people speak about this verse as a wife submitting to her husband as though it is one way, they are missing what Paul is saying here. Again Paul is saying collevtive submission of which the husband and wife are a part of to each other and other believers.

  14. Kimberly

    What translation/reliable study Bible is recommended?


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