The Lamp

To cause the lamp to burn continually
Before the lamp of God went out
Ex.27:20 – I Sam.3:3

Grace and beauty are the divine design for the gentle and quiet dignity of women. Their godly decorum adorns the gospel in the parable they poetically portray. She, as a bride, represents the true church of Christ in a loving submission to her husband, that is, to Christ.

From the beginning she was fashioned for this distinctive purpose. She was molded by the hand of God to be a helper for the man [Gen.2:18]. Woman was thus created to assist the man as his companion. Her God-given purpose was to help him to fulfill what the Lord had given him to do. Her contribution is thus complimentary to his objectives and labors.

Helpers, by definition, are not initiators. They do not take the prominent role. They are not the leaders. They occupy a support position and lend aid to those they are associated with. Helpers rarely appear in the public eye, but typically carry on their works behind the scenes.

Her divinely appointed sphere is not public but in private. She is a follower, not the leader. He guides and directs, she responds. He has prominence, she, retirement. The man influences his world, the woman, her home.

This order ordained from Eden’s shade establishes the scope of her ministry in the church. She is to marry, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach [I Tim.5:14]. Her focus is to love her husband and children as a worker at home by being subject to her husband so that the Word of God will not be dishonored [Tit.2:3-5].

The primary arena of the Christian woman’s ministry is to her husband and family. It is at home. Pursuing God’s pattern for godly women will rescue her from a shameful intrusion into that ministry reserved by God for the man.

Spiritually mature women devote themselves to godly domestic responsibilities by engaging in useful and loving deeds of kindness and service. It was by these helpful works of service that Phoebe obtained a testimony [Rom.16:1,2]. Mary, Joanna, Susanna, and many others did good deeds by ministering to the Lord Jesus from their substance [Lk.8:2,3]. Dorcas was always abounding in doing good and by tailoring garments for the ever present poor [Acts 9:36-39]. Lydia opened her home in hospitality to Paul and his companions [Acts 16:15,40].

They assisted in their appropriate capacities as ordained by the Lord in His Word. They served the saints but did not lead them. They testified of the gospel to individuals but were not the teachers in the church itself. There is really nothing unclear about this in the Scriptures, it is only that in our generation we have opted for self-chosen shameful ways rather than submitting to the Word of God.

Listen to these simple and lucid commands: “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent� [I Tim.2:11,12]. Self-willed deceivers and cowards would attempt to contravene the obvious by their man-made reasoning. But every attempt to nullify the plain teaching of this passage proves to be not only vain, but treacherous.

These are no isolated and unique directives to resolve difficulties encountered by Timothy while in Ephesus. Neither do they reflect Paul’s personal opinion or prejudice. They rather contain universal truths to every church unto all generations. Paul’s teaching did not vary from place to place. His words are not limited to a particular cultural situation. He himself testifies that he teaches the same thing everywhere in every church [I Cor.4:17]. And these consistent teachings about the woman’s role in ministry are the Lord’s commandment for all believers wherever they may be found throughout the world in every generation.

“If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s commandment. If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored� [I Cor.14:37,38]. Simply stated, in the church the women are to learn from but not instruct the brethren. They are to submit and not exercise authority. Teaching other sisters and instructing children are their appointed spheres of ministering of the Word of the Lord; but not teaching men and the church at large.

This is the consistent command of the Scriptures respecting women in ministry. “As in all the churches of the saints, let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church� [I Cor.14:33-35]. It is with respect to teaching the church that she is to be silent and not to speak. Being “silent� and not being “permitted to speak� refer to one and the same thing: A woman is not allowed to teach or exercise authority over a man.

The primary work of the overseer is being “able to teach� [I Tim.3:2] and to “exhort in sound doctrine and refute those who contradict� [Tit.1:9]. Women are unqualified for this ministry since the work of an overseer is definitely that of publicly leading and instructing the people of God.

Women bishops, reverends, pastors, elders, and general overseers are contradictions in terms. “An overseer/bishop/church leader must be above reproach, the husband of one wife� [I Tim.3:2]. Since the overseer must be above reproach, it is stating a requirement that is not optional. Yet this same verse also says that he must be the husband of one wife. No woman who is the husband of one wife can be found. Women are not husbands. It is a contradiction in terms.

We therefore will never encounter women in this type of ministry by God’s appointment. Call it what you will, a woman can never be an overseer, bishop, pastor, elder, or reverend according to the Word of God. It is not her God-given sphere of service. If she pretends to be such, she has done so without the approval of heaven.

But, you may say, hasn’t God given the same Holy Spirit to men and women alike without distinction? Indeed He has. But let us not be ignorant of this fact: “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord� [I Cor.12:4,5]. The Lord simply does not distribute the ministry of overseer or pastor to women, though He is the same Lord of male and female.

But how can you say that when Galatians 3:28 says “there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus�? True, male and female all have equal access to the throne of grace, receive forgiveness without respect to gender, and are heirs of eternal life without distinction on these grounds. But receiving the blessings of salvation and the Lord granting specific ministries within the church are two entirely different things.

The Rev. [Mrs.] Peter did not preach on the day of Pentecost. The Apostle John’s wife did not raise the lame man at the Beautiful Gate. You will discover no parallel to our modern practice of “ordaining� women to public ministry within the pages of the NT.

Which gospel preacher in the NT was a woman? Which apostle was a woman? Which overseer was a woman? Which church in the NT had a woman pastor? Which of the NT books was written by a woman for the church’s instruction? The answer to all of these questions is “None.�

But doesn’t Joel 2:28 plainly say that God “will pour out [His] Spirit on all flesh; and your sons and daughters will prophesy�? Certainly that is stated and it came to pass on the day of Pentecost, yet it was Peter who took his stand with the apostles and spoke to the multitudes; their wives did not join them in this ministry. Women may surely be given the gift of prophesy, but Joel does not say that they will therefore become pastors or church leaders.

But you can’t tell me that God did not use Deborah! God spoke through her and she led the people of God! So we too can have women leaders who speak the Word of God to the church. Yes, without dispute, God spoke through Deborah, but it was shameful. It was not normal. The Lord allowed that to be done as a rebuke to the wayward rebellion of His people Israel. The glory went to a woman and Barak was put to shame. Barak ought to have taken the lead, instead he followed a woman and was publicly disgraced.

The fact that God spoke in an exceptional way through a woman does not establish that exception as the norm. This did not qualify Deborah to be a pastor. No basis for ordaining women as overseers can be derived from her history. In fact, in the pages of the Scriptures God has spoken through many abnormal means.

God spoke through Neco, the idolatrous Pharaoh of Egypt, and used him to rebuke Josiah, the king of Judah [2 Chron.35:2-22]. The murderous king Saul was overcome by the Spirit of God and prophesied all day and throughout the night [I Sam.19:18-24]. Caiaphas, the wicked high priest who ordered the crucifixion of Christ, also prophesied [Jn.11:49-53]. Does the fact that God spoke through them qualify them to become pastors and leaders in the church? You tell me. I don’t think you would like Pastor Pharaoh, Overseer Saul, or the Rev. Canon Caiaphas to be senior minister over your church.

And don’t forget that God spoke through a donkey and used that dumb beast to shamefully rebuke the madness of Balaam [2 Pet.2:15,16]. So, you see, God spoke through a donkey and the Lord used him to teach a man! Therefore, God can also speak through a woman to teach men! Very well, then, you may ordain women to the ministry if you will also ordain Rev. Dr. Donkeys to be your pastors. After all, you can’t tell me that God did not use them.

The woman represents the church, and the husband, Christ. Let me ask you some simple questions. Does the church teach Christ? Does the church usurp authority over Christ? Does the church direct Christ? Does Jesus submit to the lead of the church? Hopefully it is obvious that the answer is “No.� It should also be obvious that it is a reproach both to Christ and to the church that women have become its leaders. It is time for us to remove shame from our pulpits and return to honorable and biblical ministry in the house of God.