Friday, October 15, 2010

Junia or Junias? Why the letter "s" makes a huge difference part 2

Wow it has been a while and I'm not even sure if anyone remembers my previous post. Basically it is my journey which led me to the conclusion that the Bible does allow women to serve in ANY position in the church. Gender does not play a role in these decisions. In my last post, I pointed out the contradiction in the way I selectively understood the passages of scripture. Today's post will give an overview of the Biblical material that would seemingly suggest that women can serve in a leadership position such as pastor in a church.

One would have to be biblically illiterate or ignorant not to see the passages which state that women functioned in leadership positions over men. This evidence cannot be overlooked.

A first major reference to women in a leadership position would be Deborah. In spite of the fact that we as Christians don't really read the Old Testament, Deborah was a Judge in Israel with tremendous responsibilities. Judges 5 tells her story. This is a story of a woman who was played an integral role in Israel's history.

Huldah, a female prophet shows up on the scene in 2 Kings 22. I would encourage you to read verses 14-20. Huldah speak on behalf of the Lord(YHWH), and what she tells the group of men is reported back to the King.

As one begins to search through the New Testament the leadership of women becomes ever more prevalent. Many evangelicals are hesitant when talking about Mary, but she cannot be overlooked. As one begins to read Luke 1-2, you read what has been called the Magnificat in Luke 1.46-55. Have you ever considered where Luke acquired this story and song? It is very likely that he had a conversation with Mary. So it is very likely that the first two chapters of Luke are derived from Mary.

Another woman is found in Acts 18. Her name is Priscilla. She is described in this way in Acts 18:24-26. " Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 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 God more adequately.

Priscilla is involved (along with her husband) in the teaching and discipleship of Apollos.

And now I save the best example for the last. As one struggles to understand the content of Romans, it is easy to just causally read through the list of names that Paul lists in Romans 16. You may be thinking to yourself, "it's just a bunch of random people who lived a long time ago, I don't need to know anything about them." It is however in this chapter one of the most compelling arguments for women leaders in the church is found. In order to see this I will post several translations of Romans 16:7a to help make my point.

NIV- Greet Andronicus and Junias
NASB- Greet Andronicus and Junias
KJV- Salute Andronicus and Junia
ESV- Greet Andronicus and Junia
NET- Greet Andronicus and Junia

At this point you might be saying to yourself "so what?" This is where the letter "s" makes such a huge difference. Junias is a name for a man. Junia is a name for a woman. None of this really matters until we get to the next couple of phrases of the Romans 16:7, which says,

"They are outstanding/prominent among the apostles."

So is Paul here telling us that a man or a woman is a super apostle? While I don't want to get into the argument at this point (This will be in a future post), the best textual evidence points to Junia as opposed to Junias. So Paul here is commending a woman apostle. An apostle had the responsibility to share the gospel, establish churches, and provide leadership.

So it does appear that there are women throughout both the Old and New Testaments who taught and exercised authority over men.

In closing I want to cite one more verse which is found in 1 Tim. 2:12 which says, "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent."

This appears to be an obvious contradiction. Did Paul change his mind? Is Paul's teaching relative and cultural? How would you resolve this contradiction?

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