Good morning Bob
I hope this message finds you well.
Thank you again for your input and advice on the issues I have been seeking you for guidance (I am grateful the ceremony is behind me and I don't want to officiate another wedding, that is certain!).
My question today is for guidance for my wife as she struggles with women in the Bible, particularly in Timothy, but not exclusively. A former elementary teacher and from a large family raised on a dairy farm, she is regarding many passages regarding women as subservient, and likened to slaves. I have to agree. I see this perspective as one that needs to appreciate the culture and time, but also see the need not to take passages out of context from the entire message of man's responsibility and accountability to G-d. Is there anything you have said to this (sort of) question?
As always, thank you for taking time for me.
My love for Christ continues in obedience to so many places I would otherwise be reluctant to go were it not for faith in Him.
It's my great pleasure, my friend.
In terms of your question, I hear this a great deal, not so much regarding the teachings at Ichthys but regarding other ministries and also regarding misunderstandings of the Bible.
Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.
Ephesians 5:24-25 NKJV
I believe it is beyond all argument that loving one's wife as Christ
loves the Church is a higher and harder standard than being obedient to
one's husband as we are to be obedient to Christ (not that the latter is
easy). And I have to point out that in both ends of this relationship it
is our relationship with Christ which is supreme. Do we feel enslaved by
Christ, men or women? Do we not rather love and appreciate the fact that
He is our Master? Do we feel put upon for having to love Him with all of
our might and mind and strength, men or women? Do we not rather delight
to have Him as our Savior?
Any marriage wherein the husband is truly loving his wife sacrificially will be one in which it will be easy for the wife to respond to his authority. And any marriage in which the wife is truly being responsive to her husband for Christ's sake will be one in which the husband will find it easy to treat his wife with a Christ-like love. And any marriage in which both of these things are the case – and this is the biblical standard – will be one in which there is no grounds for either husband or wife to blame their lot.
It is also good to point out that marriage is not necessary. It is not commanded. In fact, Paul makes it very clear that it is better not to marry (if temptation can be avoided), and that marriage causes tribulation in this life (1Cor.7:1-40).
If we are talking about spiritual gifts, all believers have them. And most of us have more than one, carefully blended by the Holy Spirit to make us a fit addition to the Body of Christ. Our job as Christians is not to blame our lot if we are an ear instead of a nose or a hand instead of a foot. Our job is to take advantage of the opportunity we have as believers in Jesus Christ to win the crowns of reward it is our duty to earn – and every believer is given the opportunity to win all three – rewards that will bless us for all eternity and glorify our Lord. We do this by preparing through spiritual growth and passing the tests that come to mature believers, then engaging in the ministries which the Lord has for us – and He has one for every one of us.
It is true that the one spiritual gift not given to women by the Spirit is the gift of pastor-teacher. There are reasons for that, but even if there weren't, the Spirit is the One who makes that decision, not any individual Christian. Since He is God, who are we to second guess Him? I hasten to add that few enough Christian men are given that gift, and that from what I can see very many individuals in the Church are acting as if they have that gift when they most certainly do not. Any woman could do the same thing (and some do), but there is no reward for acting contrary to the will of God, the true gifts of the Spirit and the desire of our Lord to have His Church edified in the proper way.
I also hasten to add that even for a man who has indeed been given the spiritual gift of pastor-teacher, this means nothing in terms of practical application unless and until that man has been properly prepared and then led into ministry by the Lord. This means that one who really is gifted in that way still has to grow to spiritual maturity with the help of someone else' ministry and still has to become properly prepared to teach the Word before commencing to do so – if there is to be edification, reward, and a "well done!" from the Lord on that great day to come. Presumptively taking this job upon oneself without the gift and without the preparation is a very dangerous thing to do.
My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.
James 3:1 NKJV
Women (and men without the gift of pastor-teacher or those who have it but are not prepared) have absolute equality in the Church in every other way. Every believer has the opportunity to win the three crowns and be rewarded to a virtually unlimited degree. But that happens by responding to the Lord and to His truth the way He has set things out in the Word of truth. And many women of the past have done so, after all.
"Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her."
Matthew 26:13 NIV
Our Lord said this about Mary Magdalene but said nothing comparable about any of the disciples/apostles.
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3:28 NIV
This is the proper attitude and the underlying truth of the matter. In
this world we have specific roles to play. I am a gentile, not Jewish,
and therefore, although I respect those of Jewish background and
especially believers, it would be wrong for me to appropriate Jewish
customs. Once the Tribulation begins, the role of Jewish believers
versus that of us gentile believers will no doubt be somewhat different
on account of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists' revival and the revival in
Israel led by Moses and Elijah with Israel once again taking the lead in
the Church – but we are all called to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ in
the same way, and we will all be one in Him and with Him in New
Jerusalem forever. The differences then in our rank and reward will
depend entirely on how we responded to Him and His truth in this brief
life in and under the circumstances He gave and assigned to us.
Here is an excerpt from Peter #37 which I think is appropriate also to your question on the role of women:
As we have seen in the past, the Church is a Body and, as with the human body, has many different parts with diverse roles, all of which are necessary to the proper functioning of the whole. To carry out one's role according to the gifts one is given and to do so in a consistent way that glorifies Jesus Christ is the basis for the crown of glory. That is what all believers should aspire to do, regardless of spiritual gifts and regardless of gender. To paraphrase what Paul says in concluding his own catalog of heroes (Heb.11:32), "time would fail us", if we attempted to list all of the believers mentioned in scripture who have doubtless earned the crown of glory. However, in order to illustrate the point that this decoration is available to all, a short reprise of a very few of the more famous passages praising famous female believers who have undoubtedly won that honor seems appropriate here:
"Villagers in Israel would not fight; they held back until I, Deborah, arose, until I arose, a mother in Israel."
Judges 5:7 NIV
(14) Then the women said to Naomi, "Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel! (15) And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law [Ruth], who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him."
(32) Then David said to Abigail: "Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! (33) And blessed is your advice and blessed are you, because you have kept me this day from coming to bloodshed and from avenging myself with my own hand."
1st Samuel 25:32-33 NKJV
And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!"
Luke 1:28 NKJV
(1) I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant (lit., "deaconess") of the church in Cenchrea, (2) that you may receive her in the Lord 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.
Romans 16:1-2 NKJV
(3) Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, (4) who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.
Romans 16:3-4 NKJV
Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, who have labored in the Lord. Greet the beloved Persis, who labored much in the Lord.
Romans 16:12 NKJV
By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.
Hebrews 11:11 NKJV
By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.
Hebrews 11:31 NKJV
"What more shall we say" of so many others? Of the Hebrew midwives (Ex.1:17-21), of Rebecca (Gen.24:58; 27:13), of Hannah (1Sam.1:1ff.), of Huldah (2Ki.22:14-20), of Esther (Est.1:1ff.), of Anna (Lk.2:36-38), of Mary and Martha (Matt.26:6-13; Jn.11:17-44), of Lydia (Acts 16:15), of Rufus' mother (Rom.16:13), and of so many other women who dedicated themselves to spiritual growth, spiritual progress, and spiritual production? Not only are their names "written in heaven" (Lk.10:20), and preserved forever in the holy scriptures, but, having fulfilled Christ's purpose for their lives, they have attained to the three crowns which glorify our Lord Jesus forever. Let us all "be up and doing" (1Chron.22:16), and "go and do likewise" (Lk.10:37).
Do feel free to write me back about any of the above.
So can women be church leaders?
1st Timothy 2:12 tells us that women cannot be pastor-teachers. See the links:
Women in leadership (in BB 6B)
More about Women Preachers
Should Women Preach?
Women Teachers - Women Preachers
That is the only biblical restriction I know of. Of course, men who do
not have the gift of pastor-teachers have no business in that role of
teaching the Bible to the assembled church either. And even men with the
gift are not fit to do so without a goodly amount of preparation. And
then, of course, no one can enter into a ministry which the Lord Himself
has not selected for us (1Cor.12:5).
A question about scripture being written in a different time and place. How does one discern the “authorial intent” for us today? Could this be an example of something we are to discard because of the times? Namely, the apostle Paul’s directive that women are to remain silent, and not have spiritual authority over men in the Church.
This is a much misunderstood point.
No one is to be talking during the teaching of the Word of God – men or women. Paul was dealing with an obstreperous congregation and he focuses on the women (who may or may not have been more to blame) instead of the men (who were in any case also to blame), because he felt that he would get the men nodding "Yes, that's right!", but then they couldn't very well continue their own bad practice on this score immediately after they'd told their wives to be quiet. It reminds me of this verse:
Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me.
In terms of authority per se, men are to love their wives as Christ
loves the Church – a very high standard; women are to obey their
husbands as they obey Christ – somewhat more doable, I would argue. But
in either case, we do not feel oppressed by Christ because we are to
love Him and obey Him; neither should men resent having to be
sacrificial in their love for their wives, nor should women resent
having to give their husbands the respect that they owe the Lord. And in
any marriage where both partners are behaving in this way, there will be
only peace and harmony and no ill-feelings.
For all who feel resentment at the notion of applying this biblical principle (Eph.5:24-25), we note that marriage is not commanded. No one is required to get married; and we are told in advance that marriage is difficult and that we are better off remaining single if we can handle that (1Cor.7:1-40).
The only other area of authority where the Bible says anything about men vs. women is that of the local church, and no one is to disrespect the authority of the pastor-teacher, men or women. True, the gift of pastor-teacher is not given to women, but it is not given to many men either, and only those rare individuals who have prepared to use it correctly are worthy of the "double honor" that falls to the lot of the genuine pastor-teacher whom Christ has put into that position of authority (1Tim.5:17). As to the benefits of possessing such authority, this is what our Lord had to say about that:
And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves."
Luke 22:25-27 NKJV
It seems to me that the subservience of the good pastor-teacher is very
much akin to the subservience of the good Christian wife. So taking
offense on this account seems to me doubly problematic since getting
that "authority" means the necessity of taking on voluntarily just such
self-submission that is being complained about.
Hi Dr L,
So you know I am studying history (church history, Bible history, etc), Greek, the Bible, Bible study, etc. And prayers are also a thing I find I can do as a good work, besides trying to live in His truth moment to moment (things such as doing work as for Him). I think I have a lot of understanding and knowledge now, and it is increasing (I mean I don't mean to be prideful, it is a gift from God).
There is a tendency of believers to automatically assign women to be babysitters. Is it wrong for me, if I find myself in or out of the Tribulation, being handed that role, to say 'no'? Because if I continue on this path, it seems a waste of all this knowledge. And against this road I have been on for a while now of praying and growing independently spiritually. And I don't see it as necessary (not to the degree we have it, I mean I am sure you have heard the phrase 'helicopter parenting'). And I did not like being a babysitter when I was an older kid to younger ones, because I felt that I did not get anything out of it, the parents never had a relationship with me (and neither did the kids, but they were little kids), and so I just felt like a placeholder. Though maybe the kids learned something about the Lord. Also, I just don't want to. If I did that I'd want to teach them what I'd want to teach them, and you KNOW parents today don't like that. I'd just be an automaton to all of them with no say in anything, just supposed to do what they want when they want.
Anyway, do you have any wisdom for me on this?
To add, there was also this sense of that I was not able to learn or grow (not that there was much of that anyway) because I was in another area with the kids. But I think, even if I was in the room with the adults, I'd still be distracted with the kids' needs. So it was all that altogether that makes me not want to do that. And if they try to say that I am not being giving/loving enough I can say 'In this situation you give nothing but gain a bit from me, while I get nothing and give a bit to you. I am asking for a more equal trade. Which of us is the greedy one here?'
Lastly the other issue is that this position seems to be less of a position where you are an equal and beloved family member, and your needs and wants matter, and more of a position where you are a tool to be used and forgotten and thrown away and left to pick up the pieces by yourself of whatever is left. It is sort of like the situation where you are hospitable and have people over and they do something stupid and get injured and sue you (because it happened in your house).
Am I making sense?
If you are talking about church or church activities, it is true that
historically the ones taking care of the kiddos while everyone else was
in the sanctuary for the main Sunday service have mostly been women. I
certainly appreciated the Bible teaching I got from some of these woman
in Sunday school and still remember some of it to this day, but at our
church I don't think there was any pressure to do this. Without doubt,
women are generally better with children than men are (exceptions both
ways of course).
Forcing someone to babysit is downright wrong. I have a friend who was fired for refusing to do this. The individual responsible would never have thought to impose similarly on a male colleague (but for the record this was just the tip of the iceberg in this person's unprofessional and even illegal activities).
When it comes to being forced to "miss church", that would be awful . . . if church were anything that it would be sad to miss. Nowadays there is nothing going on in church anyway. Still, assuming someone should be doing something they don't want to do is not a Christian attitude.
When it comes to actually benefitting from the teaching of the Word of God, nothing should stop a positive individual, male or female, from that most important activity, regardless of other people's expectations – and no one should allow those expectations to stop them from spiritual growth.
Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:38-42 NKJV
I just meant that if I lived during the Tribulation, then I would likely
have some interaction in underground Christian groups. And I wondered
how to prepare. And I remembered that I don't want to do babysitting
(because it is a one way street in my experience...more like a 'I am
trying to survive, and not only are you not going to help me, you will
put more on me' thing).
There is this feeling in the general society, and especially Christian circles, that women are not supposed to say no to helping anyone, or helping others kids. I think your story demonstrates that actually I would not be sinning by saying no right? I mean I have been used before (like a placeholder) and it would bother me less if I got something in return, or if I thought it was a work that would be rewarded by the Lord but I don't know that it is. (Because one could easily say that kids don't need a minder all the time). I don't remember in the Bible a woman EVER being asked to look after another's kids, which is interesting to me. Even the Lord when He was young, he was thought to be in the general company when His parents thought He was with them (and He was in the Temple). More of a community thing, if someone happened to be nearby and see something, but not like a full time role.
I hope that makes sense. If you have any other word, I would like to hear. But if not I will keep that verse in mind.
Thanks for all your help
You're welcome as always, my friend.
You have a great many talents and you have acquired much wisdom and truth. How precisely the Lord intends to use that in the future is something you will have to wait to find out. And no, I don't think baby-sitting or "being used as a place holder" is what He has in mind for you.
I do also think you are correct that there will be unique opportunities during the Tribulation. We really can't know much about these before the fact in terms of specifics. We can certainly assume that with all the lukewarm Christians around now, there will be a great need for the encouragement and sharing of the truth that only prepared individuals will be able to offer. So our job is to keep preparing – and then make use of the opportunity when the Lord provides.
Keeping you in my prayers.
Hi Dr Luginbill,
So you obviously know more than me on this, so if I am wrong, I am happy to be corrected (no exaggeration). My understanding is that in the military, starting back when it was all men (or mostly men), some of the soldiers are designated for things like cooking for the others and cleaning up equipment, barracks, the ships they were on, etc. And also it is my understanding that for a long time a launderer was a male profession, as was being a tailor, or chef. And even in ancient times there were manservants that assisted the nobility with stuff like this. And to my knowledge no one thinks of these men as less masculine. So this idea of cooking and cleaning being feminine just seems, well, ignorant. What do you think?
Please don't read into this. I really do just mean the on its face question/thoughts. Not leading into something political or whatnot. Just that I used to think I'd give a guy a pass on that stuff because I bought into that idea. And I mean, I still might because there is a lot of other stuff going on. Guys tend to work more in the office or wherever they work, and other things. So please don't think I am going in a guy bashing direction. But the more I read and learn, the more I am like, well...so many interesting things to consider.
Well, there was no need for laundry or cooking in Eden. The fall changed
all that of course.
In antiquity, the military was all-combatant, and that is the way it is in the USMC – at least all are trained in basics including marksmanship. The Army has something like that too. If other services are needed which by their nature have no direct military application, they are usually contracted out. The USMC band, for example, is basically a civilian concern with men and women of various ages (they have nice uniforms and are great at what they do, but they don't go into combat). You have a better idea about all of this than most people since you were in the ROTC, after all.
In antiquity, the general division of labor, speaking, as I say, with great generality, was that the men went out and farmed or shepherded and the women managed the household. If it was a large household, the latter meant basically being the CEO for everything not out in the fields, with the wife managing the slaves, men and women, detailing them to do whatever was necessary. There are many exceptions and variations, of course. Rachel was a shepherdess.
Nowadays a large percentage of chefs are men and tailors also. There is no practical reason why gender has to have anything to do with this but traditions certainly does. Before WWII, if a woman wanted a career instead of being a homemaker, then teaching, secretarial work and food service were the main areas available with plenty of barriers to anything else just because of gender. Things are different now – especially as how now to according the politically correct we don't have gender any longer (?!). A man or woman or woman who is or is becoming a man or a man who is or is becoming a woman or someone who is something else, whatever that is, can be whatever "them" wants "they" to be. In fact, as far as women are concerned, it's the case now that institutions who really don't want too many woman (whether they admit it or not) can accomplish that and double virtue-signal at the same time by hiring a man who presents as a woman (surgery not necessary).
Women do have it tough. They always have. But nowadays men face challenges too (masculinity is politically incorrect).
I'm glad I'm not a young pup. It would be a very difficult world in which to grow up.
I hope you can also imagine that being forced to be independent in degrees for most of my life, I am aware of what I cannot do. Like open jars. Lol. I just mean small things that add up and are exhausting. Anyway it gives me an appreciation when a random guy does help me. And thanks to my birth father I am also aware of how it is living with men who are misusing their strength and ones that aren't.
I do feel terrible about the situation guys are in too. And one of the things I hate is that a woman can just accuse a guy and even if she is proven wrong it can ruin him. And the constant propaganda-the anti masculinity part isn't even aimed at me.
In the real world, people have always been people. So expecting any of them, men or women, to be naturally upright, hard-working, honest, honorable – well let's just say, don't hold your breath.
With rare exceptions, when people act that good way, it's because of the
restraints and inculcations of the culture in which they find
themselves. When the culture and family upbringing is sound and attuned
to God's natural laws, then things are generally good in society (see
the link). When the bonds of restraint come off, you get 21st
It seems I have misunderstood a lot about life. I am getting now that
life is just hell; some people get a bit luckier than others and suffer
less (and have at least parents who cared so they have a foundation).
And we talked a while back about friendship, and I see you are alone in
the world, and you should look out for yourself (especially if you have
no one else who will) and what you want.
And I was also thinking maybe I also romanticized marriage. I mean I did a lot of reading to see the issues, but it seems like whether the start is good or bad, a large portion of people do end up unhappy with their marriage. So the idea of romantic love you see in stories sometimes where it starts and ends well is just very rare. I mean I guess I should have figured from Adam and Eve, even they had the issues they had. I mean I don't blame him for giving her up, but I also wouldn't blame her for keeping in mind she only really has God to look out for her, and herself. I thought a similar thing with Abraham's wife when he gave her up. I think it happens regardless of culture though. I've told you about my grandparents in the country, and even though they did not have a billion things to distract themselves and compare each other too, and my grandmother did the housewife thing, it didn't make my grandfather try to make her happy as far as I could tell. I mean she did whatever he wanted (from what I saw) and in the end she died with an unfulfilled wish that he knew about but I guess didn't feel compelled to do anything. (It was something easy and simple). I am just trying to understand so I can make right choices and set expectations for myself. There is a lot I am working out in my mind.
Sometimes I feel God expects too much from me. I will be honest. It isn't like I don't put time and effort into it almost daily. And I just feel I never reach the goal and it just feels not good.
I think that will be my life motto: Life is hell. No one gives a *** about you. So you should choose for God
This passage sums up my own thinking about life as a believer:
As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:36-39 NIV
As to "I just feel I never reach the goal and it just feels not good", the goal is on the other side. It's always going to be a fight down here, but 1) we only have to fight one day at a time, 2) we have the Spirit to help us, and 3) we're never asked to do more than we can actually do (1Cor.10:13).
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9 NIV
As to relationships, as mentioned, we're not required to get married. Marriage can be a positive thing for believers of course.
He who finds a wife [and] who finds a good thing [in so doing] obtains favor from the Lord.
Proverbs 18:22 [see the link for an explanation of this translation]
But all relationships take work, and the more important they are, the
more work they take. If we are married, that will naturally
require a great deal of effort on our part for the relationship to be a
success and there is only so much time and energy any of us have
(1Cor.7:32-33). Believers need to keep always in mind just who it
is we are trying to please first and foremost. I guarantee you
that at the Judgment Seat of Christ you won't regret a single second of
time or ounce of energy you put into the one relationship which trumps
them all. So while "single bliss" has its challenges, it also
provides opportunities of time and peace which married people don't
have. Take my advice and take maximum advantage of these as long
as you do have them.
Keeping you in my prayers, my friend.
I should have asked you directly. Is the idea of women doing jobs
outside the home like men just nonsense? From my own estimation, it
seems like while it is a necessity now, most women cannot and/or are not
willing to do the job like a man. (Yes there are lazy men but I mean
comparing them to the average man putting in the same amount of effort
or more). Except for jobs in traditional fields (nursing, fashion, etc).
Though I think there are a few rare women who can and will but let's not
get thrown off with the exception. I ask because I am looking at my own
life and feel I have very little to show and wondering what my goals
I would appreciate straight talk though I know that is hard in today's society.
So it depends on the framing of the question. Does the Bible prohibit women
working outside the home? No. In Philippi, Lydia was a business woman, and she
greatly helped Paul's team. Priscilla seems to have been an equal to her husband
in their business efforts (and surely was in their ministry ones). For the most
part, opportunities in the world of that time for woman to be anything but
homemakers were very limited, much more so than today, and yet we still have
these and other examples.
Are you asking whether or not this is a good and healthy trend? If so, I'm only concerned about Christians, and about individual ones at that. Doing what the Lord wants instead of what we want is fundamental. We are all told to "deny ourselves, pick our crosses, and follow Jesus Christ" (e.g., Matt.16:24). That will mean, in practical application, different things for different believers: we are all responsible for growing spiritually and learning how to walk close to the Lord, but our gifts are different and therefore so are our ministries.
As far as women are concerned, in this day and age, the Lord doesn't have a husband, children and family for everyone (same is true for me, of course). Part of that is where we are on the eschatological clock: "the time is short" (1Cor.7:29-31), so that now, today, more than ever before, there is a need for dedicated preparation before the Tribulation begins. One can easily see how even godly marriage could be a distraction to that for many people, especially in the early going (cf. 1Cor.7:32-36). So our situations on this count are all different for a reason.
If you are asking about ability of gender vs. gender, that's an individual thing in my opinion, even though it is possible to generalize. There are no women playing football in the NFL, last time I looked. But so what? Only a minuscule percentage of MEN in this country ever played in the NFL so that it is a distinction without a difference in fact. It reminds me of a line from a movie: Man to robot: "Can a robot write a great symphony?" Robot to man: "No . . . can you?"
If you are asking about self-fulfillment and whether or not there is really any happiness down the road of "be all you can be" for a woman eschewing the traditional route and giving her all to some career, to be honest, if a person is dedicated to self-fulfillment in this world apart from God by any avenue in the end it is meaningless.
The only true happiness in this life comes from following and serving Jesus Christ – for men and women both – and that is the only "effort" which lasts beyond the very short time we have in this world.
Hello Dr. Luginbill,
Thank you for letting me know you have a new installment in the Peter Series - I was planning on emailing you soon with some questions about marriage after reading #35. How are you and your family?
I am sorry I have not been corresponding much this year. I have been super busy with my full-time job and going through the recruitment process to become a firefighter. I've been staying in God's Word through walking and driving while listening to Curt's studies [link] each day but all of my note-taking and deep studying has been put on hold for the last few months.
I passed the oral exam in April and my physical exam is this Thursday - please keep me in your prayers! I have been training hard for 2 years and have been making it through all the events with a passing score during the practice runs these past few weeks - it's definitely more difficult for us female recruits, but not impossible.
Please let me know if there is anything specific I can pray for you and your family! I keep you in my prayers daily.
In Christ's Love,
Thanks for responding.
You have a lot on your plate! I'm praying for things to work out on the firefighter front.
Things are going well here.
Best wishes for doing very well tomorrow (let me know how it turns out).
Hi Dr. Luginbill,
Thank you for your prayers.
I failed my 1st attempt on Thursday, but I get one more attempt next Friday. During the practice sessions, the most challenging event for me (and most of the women) was the tire strike - hitting a 125 lb tire across an 8 ft table with a 10-pound sledgehammer. That was the one I was most worried about but that wasn't the one I failed on Thursday. I actually failed the blind hose crawl. They fill 3 fire hoses with water and tangle them together on the floor. They blindfold us, put a sledgehammer in our hand, and put our other hand on one of the hoses. We have to crawl on the floor and feel our way through the tangle, ending up on the other end with the same hose we started on and still carrying our sledgehammer in under 2 minutes and 30 seconds. I wasn't having any issues with this one during the practice sessions, but I landed on the wrong hose during the test. I was probably rushing and not being careful enough.
I'm hoping for the best, but if I don't make it I will try again in 2 years. I think God is guiding me to become a firefighter and after spending so much time with the firefighters, I feel a strong calling, but it's going to be according to His timing and not mine.
I am wondering - how do we know when God is guiding us down a certain path? I've told you about how I get signs, but I'm starting to think that not all of them are from God, that some of them are from the enemy, so I don't want to rely on them too much. I've been praying to God for discernment and wisdom in knowing what is coming from Him and what isn't.
Last year I prayed a lot asking God if I could go into firefighting as a career, then a blessing came my way. Before COVID-19 a met a Christian woman about my age at the gym and we became friends. She is a graphic designer and I have a degree in illustration so we started off talking about art but pretty soon we were talking to each other about our faith. We went out to lunch a couple of times and during the COVID lockdowns, we stayed in touch through text and Facebook.
After the lockdowns when we could meet again I told her that I was going to put in my application again to the Fire Department soon. She said that she just got a new roommate who was currently going through the FD Academy and her dad is a battalion chief for the FD. She gave me her number and we all got together for dinner one night. She helped me a lot in how to practice for the oral exam and train for the physical exam.
Since that connection came through my relationship with another Christian who I had just met the year before, do you think it could have been God encouraging me and blessing me with that extra help?
In Christ's Love,
Sorry to hear that you'll have to do this again, but it sounds to me as
if you'll be very confident – since it was minor mishap that you didn't
pass the first time. I mean, there was nothing you "can't do" – and that
inability to do one thing or another is usually why people don't pass no
doubt. So good for you that you were able to do all the really hard
We all have the Spirit and gain spiritual confidence and common sense through our spiritual growth, and we all have to make decisions based upon what God has given us. I count that, i.e., the process of thinking in the Spirit about what God has given us, as of more import than "signs" – absent some direct verbal communication. In my experience, when the Lord does give us indications, they are usually in the nature of confirmation or warnings – and are so obvious that it doesn't take a spiritual genius to figure them out. The fact that you have clearly been helped in this quest, well, that is something I personally would take as a confirming indicator. I do hasten to say that this if for you to sort out.
I'll be praying for you for next Friday!
Hello Dr. Luginbill,
I hope you are doing well. I meant to email you back sooner but right after I got back from my business trip I got sick with a sore throat, then it went into my chest. Thankfully it wasn’t COVID, but this was my first week getting back to normal.
Thank you for sending me the update from your friends, Mark and Rene. It was really interesting to read about their ministry - I will keep them in my prayers. I have no idea if God will somehow guide me to use the French that I’ve learned, but I’ve actually grown to really like the language and would love to become fluent someday. Right now, it's taking a backseat to my spiritual growth and becoming a firefighter.
Also, thank you so much for praying for God to help me pass the firefighter physical exam. He definitely answered everyone’s prayers and I passed on my 2nd attempt! Looking back, I think He used my failure to test my faith in Him and to work everything out. I had strained my wrist practicing the tire strike the weekend before - it was still sore and weak on the day of my first attempt. I failed on the event right before the tire strike, so that spared me from injuring it more. By the time I went for my second attempt a week later, it was completely healed and much stronger. Also, the “conditions” of the test were a little more in my favor on the second attempt. Because there was only me and one other recruit in the gym for the test it was a lot less humid and the tire wasn’t “sticking” to the table like it was the week prior - everyone had been complaining about it.
I scored a 93 on my oral exam back in April, so I am in the 2nd band of recruits on the eligible list. I still need to pass a background check, lie detector test, formal interview, VO2 stress test, psychological exam, and a physical from a doctor before I can enter the Fire Academy. The first band of recruits will start at the academy this December and my band will start in June of 2023. I’m very relieved that I am not in the first band. Right now, I’m the strongest I’ve ever been, but I definitely need to lean out to be able to get ready for all of the training and running. The FD is paramilitary so the academy is structured like boot camp, but I’m sure nothing like what you and Curt went through in the Marines!
And thank you for answering my question about how we can know if God is guiding us down a certain path. You said that He gives us indications that are usually in the nature of confirmations or warnings. I have experienced Him doing both in my life.
Thank you again for your prayers. I will be emailing you back next weekend with some questions about Peter #35. I am continuing to pray for you and your family.
In Christ’s Love,
Congrats on passing!!! I know you've worked very long and hard on this.
What a blessing the way the Lord worked it out too! Things fell into
place just the right way for you. No accidents there!
On Tahiti, I'm sure it's no problem to sign up for their newsletter (link). I know that communication is an issue since most people there don't speak English but many more do speak French.
Getting ready for the academy by running, running, running sounds like a good plan – if my USMC experience is any guide. I'm glad you have the time to get properly prepped.
Thanks much for your prayers, my friend. If you wanted to send up one or two for me for my enrollments, I'd appreciate it. Greek is very low – even though I've done more to promote it than ever before. Times are changing and demographics as well.
Keeping you in my prayers daily, my friend!
Thank you so much Bob for your encouragement and cool clear head on this my
Indeed my ministry should be for those who are hurt and damaged by cults and abuse rather than their loyal adherents and abusers themselves. If Unitarianism was the true way, shouldn't its converts be conformed to His image then? Of course none of us will ever be the very image of Christ here but shouldn't we at the very least be a little bit like Him? Just a little bit? If Unitarianism makes their believers look worse than the unbelievers in the world then what is the point?
The trauma I endured from these people was some of the worse kind of bullying I have experienced in my adult life! There was nothing there that made me want to sit through any of their teachings! I felt like I was in a horror film, having to slam both feet on the accelerator pedal to get out of there as fast as I physically could whilst seeing it get smaller and smaller in the rear view mirror as I drove away. The parting shot, that rapidly diminishing rear view image, was of __ writing "take the plank out of your eye!!!!" in caps lock. My body actually went into flight mode whilst I shook violently! I felt like I had to escape at all costs! If that was the damage done in such a small window of time, imagine what years of that does to a person. It now makes sense that he wouldn't even sit in the same room as his wife. I have witnessed this legalistic excuse used for misogyny before.
When I briefly volunteered for Gospel For Asia (GFA) charity (which is currently being sued for fraud to the tune of multiple millions of dollars by the way) there was a couple there who claimed Christ and yet the wife had to walk behind the man just like the women in Islam do. When they went for lunch, despite there being so many options to choose from, the wife let her husband choose her food for her every time. I felt really bad for her as I could eat whatever I wanted. I remember the shock of seeing this. It hit me very hard indeed. I was a baby Christian then and I remember thinking 'Is this Christianity? Will I not be able to eat what I want anymore? Is this a Christian marriage? Why does it resemble an abusive one?"
I remember sitting at the table with them after I ordered my food. There was prayers before the meal and the wife waited until the husband started eating before she could begin. My heart sank, this reminded me of my own traumatic family experiences. It was a real stumbling block for me as a baby Christian Bob. I thought, is this my life now? Bearing in mind that it was the enemy's twisted version of the father being the controlling head of the frightened family that pushed me to the brink but thankfully I called out to the Lord instead to deliver me. After that I came to saving faith.
Imagine my horror, after all the joy and freedom I felt as a new believer to be confronted by a family near identical to my own (only minus all the shouting). I remember being sat there trying to eat but I lost my appetite as I thought 'What's the point then of being rescued from this without Christianity if the exact same behaviour is happening within?" If I didn't love the Lord as much as I did even at that young spiritual age, I could have easily have said "If this is the faith then I want no part of it".
I was too young then to know of legalism. I have experienced it since though. After leaving my brief stint at the Nazarene church, I made the mistake of leaving liberalism behind to pursue legalism instead. I think this is really common. It's a bit like leaving the frying pan only to fall into the nuclear reactor! The Nazarene Church which now fully embraces the redundant "seeker friendly" stuff and also the truly awful Emergent Church movement drove me out to seek something more "biblical'. I was sick of just sitting around listening to Bethel and Hillsong songs whilst hearing a "sermon" about how Steve Jobs is a great model for the Christian walk (why not Christ?) or hearing how much we can learn from the Pastor's favourite episode of "Friends" (I kid you not.) So then I mistakenly thought that the opposite of that was "more Biblical'".
I remember that one experience of the Church of God. At first I was impressed that they didn't sing Hillsong and sung acapella old fashioned hymns (I shouldn't have been). I only later realised from people who has left that they had made some religion by cobbling together various parts of the New Testament in some weird cherry picked way divorced of all spiritual meaning.
Like all legalistic cults, the first thing that jumped out at me was the demeanour of their wives. I'll never forget the look on those women's faces. It will be forever etched on my mind. You know that look a person can have when all the stuffing has been kicked out of them and they are resigned to their fate? When they absolutely have no hope of escape? That is what I saw in their faces. It is the same dead look I have seen in POW camps. To be fair though the men had some of that look too. They look dazed as if they didn't understand what was going on. Whereas it was as if the women knew exactly what was going on, deep down but also knew they would never escape it.
The Pastor of that church was born into that role but I am glad to say he wasn't like that at that point. It was chilling that the women there not only couldn't talk during the service but they didn't sing either. They all sat there next to their dazed looking husbands, looking like they were already dead.
There was hope for the Pastor. As I left I sent him the verses about "God is love" and I also shared the verses on what love is. He gobbled it up like a person who was starving hungry for the Word but then sadly he mechanically sent me a knee jerk rehearsed response that justified stern legalism.
His father was the lead elder. I remember thinking when I saw that permanently angry face for the first time that he looked like a "stern faced king". What is more sad is that the Pastor's little daughter who was playing with toys during the service and joyfully singing along to the hymns will grow into becoming one of these dead faced women one day. Hopefully not.
I had "survivor guilt" after that. I feel survivor guilt about yesterday also. There was a wonderful brief moment during yesterday's conference with the Unitarians when it looked as though the wife was ready to hear the Gospel. She looked as though she really wanted to believe Jesus is as wonderful as He truly is but __ was having none of that. It was at that very moment that he disturbed the meeting with a lot of complaining about how "uncomfortable" he was in his seat that brought that moment swiftly to an end.
I think 1 Peter 3:1 has been weaponised by Satan against women. Do these legalistic cults really think that any woman would want to join them so they can have that harrowing dead eyed look in the future? The only men who would agree with such legalism are the ones who no doubt already have a taste for abusing their wives and want to find a place were they can legitimise their sins by having the dubious fig leaf to convince themselves and others that "the Bible says we can abuse our wives into submission".
What I see missing from all these cults is loving fathers. They like the leadership bit and the headship but they don't like the loving servant part. They want the crown but not the cross. They assume that women must submit to them but they fail themselves to submit to God. It is very clear to me that these men do not have God as their father. It seems that Satan truly is their father.
I think this will be a very key part of my ministry, picking apart the abuse Satan has done through twisting scripture as it references wifely submission under belligerently rebellious husbands.
In Jesus, the perfect husband to us the bride,
Thank you for this!
I would dearly love to publish it – but I think you might want to edit out some of the "you" in it first if and when you give me the OK [permission granted; material edited].
Yes indeed. It seems our choices nowadays are between women being reduced to robot slaves or else running the whole show as the authority figures with no regard for scripture and putting politics first.
It just goes to show that few people are interested in the Bible nowadays.
I know that you could do some good for the Lord with this type of ministry.
So you're making progress!
Keeping you in my prayers about all this, my friend.
In Jesus our dear Savior,
I should have listened to you before. Every time you advise me not to/ to do something, I always go on anyway head first and I always come a cropper without fail!
You're right, I need to slow right down, carry on growing day by day and wait for the Lord to lead me every step of the way with ministry just as with everything else.
Just made another huge mistake but the Lord is so gracious and quickly takes us out of our own messes!
I arrogantly plowed forward about this ministry thinking as though my flesh could do this or my intellect and really fell head first into another snare.
I'll be honest, I found [the Unitarian couple] on a conspiracy type video. I had managed to avoid it for a really long time but I backslid again and then I invited them to my ministry. Well you know what a mistake that was. I really think __ was trying to push me away from Jesus through Unitarianism. You know how scary that was.
Today I even did worse. I realise now that looking into cults is even worse than looking at Conspiracy Theory. It's all Satan after all. I stupidly watched a documentary about the Moonies using Ministry research as my excuse. Well I felt a warning by the Holy Spirit and I ignored it and watched it anyway. I said to __, this film is attacking my faith and confusing me. But then it had that "addictive" quality I told you about. As I did learn a lot about how cults work though from it, I stupidly then read some of the book it was based on online. I suddenly felt really dizzy while I was reading it and felt a real attack on my faith.
So I think it better to tread very slowly and carefully and let the Lord lead me. I was being boastful about me but this will be the Lord's work not mine. So I've been humbled by this and been shown how immature I still am.
You know how keen I am to serve the Lord but it has to be His way. I realise just how intelligent Satan is and we are no match for his deceptions, they are literally everywhere. Thankfully this is the Lord's battle and we will overcome it with faith and the Lord will never forsake us!
You were right Satan plays both sides. He is the executioner and the false rescuer.
I noticed that the same "world authority' on cults who shows you how to outwit mind control also pushes Kaballah as a safe thing to do. Talking out of both sides of his mouth.
Similarly I suspect that when they "deprogram" people during exit counselling from cults, that Satan is involved there too. As the Moonies have a lot of Christianity twisted up in all the deception they do, you make a mental connection between the two. I then suspect that the people who "treat' people after they leave, not only are they "deprogrammed" from the Moonies but also from Christianity too. Very sly. I wonder how many people can never have faith again after. It is no coincidence that the Moonies "divinely inspired" text looks just like a Bible does. It's like both cults and exit councillors are actually working towards the same goal which is to smear and then block faith altogether. Bad cop then good cop. The wolf but also the grandmother.
I suspect Satan uses multiple levels of deceit. Some people fall for the low level but then with others he tricks them further on. He uses horrible false teachers knowing that some will fall for it but others will be so disgusted that they will leave the faith altogether.
He cannot be outwitted by us. Angelic intelligence is way more superior to our own so we will be beaten before we try. Far better to trust in our Lord as He will get us through and then we have nothing to fear with our eyes on Him! We can only win this and complete the race through Him and relying on Him.
I don't find anything wrong with someone who's planning to minister by
helping others recover from cult indoctrination learning a thing or two
But of course, this is dangerous. It's probably a good thing that you are finding out early on what you can tolerate and what you cannot. We all have to refine our approach to ministry. I don't go out on weekends and "preach" at churches. To be honest, it makes my skin crawl and my stomach ache to see and hear what they do and say in most churches – and no place would be willing to give the things taught at Ichthys much of a hearing in any case. Besides, if I started doing that, it would eat up all my ministry time and I wouldn't be able to keep the ball rolling at Ichthys. So I have made choices as we all have to do.
I don't think it would be possible, given the present state of the world, to gain a deep knowledge about every major cult out there and every "church" and "so-called Christian" group and every religious organization, even if a person devoted a lifetime to it. I also don't think that is necessary for the ministry angles you are contemplating.
So no doubt there is a sweet spot for you in your preparation and engagement approach. Having nothing to do with these people and organizations would mean that you'd only be getting information second hand; getting too deeply involved is dangerous, not to mention unnecessarily profligate of your time and energy. So I would chalk this latest fright with the Unitarians up to the good, in that you are finding your own personal limits and the limits of your ministry approach. We all have to do that.
Keeping you in my prayers daily, my friend.
Just heard from a friend of mine. She is in an abusive marriage and she is being moved out into the sticks away from friends and her job so I worry for her to so am trying to stay in touch with her.
I saw this today. Neil Oliver (looking like Catholic "Jesus") telling people "He will return in our hour of need" which is pretty chilling to read. He claims the "he" is "King Arthur"?! What insanity is this? More like prepping people for the antichrist! My head is swimming and trying to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus. I am overwhelmed by all that is happening to people around me so I myself have to make sure I stay grounded in the Word and study everyday. When crisis hits it's easy to abandon study and sometimes we have to but I guess at that moment it is about calling to mind what we have already learned and applying it. I can't imagine we will have much time for Bible study during Tribulation. When you sit exams then study is out of the window. Well Tribulation will be like that. It will be seven years of heavy examination of all we have managed to learn and believe NOW!
This is happening to me right now. Crisis has hit and so now I have to apply all I have learned so far.
Also, I came across something really disturbing. Lots of videos online saying that "domestic discipline" of wives is in the Bible! Apparently they back this up with the Book of Serach?
Watching a Christian ministry video on "domestic violence" and apparently many women are coming to shelters and they are abused by their husbands doing this "domestic discipline" which they claim is Biblical? I have never heard of anything more repulsive in my life! Things are very, very evil now!
Please keep praying for me!
"When you sit exams then study is out of the window". An
important point to keep in mind. Fellow believers who have bought into
the fantasy they are going to be "raptured" out of trouble will be in
the position of someone having to take a quantum physics test without
understanding basic math or science. They may need some crash tutoring
when the day comes. I'm guessing that many who have not found their
ministry niche yet will do so once those seven years begin for just that
I'm sorry to hear that you have been getting so much flak, my friend! I am praying for your protection and deliverance. We know, of course, that the evil one wants us to stop doing the good things we are doing, and if he has found in the past or finds now any success with his tactics, he will likely keep on repeating them as long as they are working.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.
James 4:7-8a NIV
As to the crazy things happening in the world, inasmuch as we "haven't seen anything yet", we really do need to do our best to relax about the rapid spiritual degeneration and advance of evil we are witnessing seemingly everywhere. God is providing for us personally, materially and spiritually – even if there is flak (in fact, of course, the "flak" is part of the provision, toughening us up for what is coming). We can afford to rest in Him and trust Him to continue to do so no matter what betides. In fact, that is our job.
Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.
Hebrews 4:11 NIV
As to the "book of Sirach", that is part of the Apocrypha, a sorry
collection of uninspired writings which are filled with nonsense and
other dangerous sorts of things (see
the link). Anyone who turns away from scripture to find their
guidance will definitely "fall into the pit". I can only say that anyone
with the Spirit would see very quickly that these atrocities you report
are vile and have nothing to do with God. People who persevere in them
anyway usually have no use for the Lord. We can only pray that He will
deliver these unfortunates by bringing them to their senses through the
truth. Your ministry no doubt will have something to do with helping
them when they do.
Keeping you in my prayers, my friend!
Just talked to a friend on the phone. He was rather taken aback as his local church is set to vote on whether or not some woman will be one of their deacons (as in, formally holding the office within their church organizational structure), and came to me asking for clarification.
First, I explained how the 1 Timothy 2 and 1 Corinthians 14 passages clearly have the office of pastor-teacher in view (i.e., teaching and disciplining with authority). I also explained how these at least cannot be used to bar women from the office of deacon since deacons do not carry teaching authority.
I also brought up Romans 16:1, where the word diakonos is used of Phoebe. My friend pointed out that it is somewhat an interpretive leap to take this specifically as de jure Deacons (i.e., the church office), because it works just as well if one takes it as her being a "general servant of the church" in the same way are all to teach and evangelize and so on from time to time. Compare your response from here:
Just as there is a difference between an apostle with a lower case "a" and the twelve apostles of Christ (note: 12, not 13, and all men whose names we know, no women), so it is with deacons. I.e., there is an official "office" of deacon, but the word means "servant", and anyone acting in service can be called a "servant" = a deacon, without at the same time having any sort of official appointment in the local church. Finally on this point, there is no indication that the deacons taught the Bible. They waited on tables in Jerusalem so that the apostles could pray and teach the Word. Stephen ministered outside of the church; so we all have different gifts that should be exploited in whatever way we are called to do so.
The qualification lists for Elders and Deacons came up too, specifically
the "husband of one wife" bit that is mentioned of deacons. Reasonably
enough, my friend asked the question of "well, that passage seemed to
have just men in mind, so..?"
I told him I'd get back to him. Scripturally, I see no reason why women couldn't formally occupy the office (as in, they wouldn't run afoul of the teaching/authority restrictions), but then again, I also see how one could take Romans 16:1 to be a general servant rather than Phoebe occupying the office de jure, making that particular passage not completely airtight.
What do you think about women occupying the church office de jure?
Honestly, what with virtually no Bible teaching happening in any of the
churches, so many are devoting themselves to rules and controversies
over rules. Legalism always develops where a genuine love of the Word is
As to what you have written, I think you have understood and explained this issue perfectly well. Local churches have a right (though not a duty) to appoint officers in an official capacity (Deacons), but it's also true that no local church would ever get anywhere without most service coming from those who do not have the official title. What's the distinction? An official position will have a portfolio, an area of responsibility (e.g., financial officer charged with receiving and disbursing all funds given to the church and dispensed to pay the pastor-teacher and whatever other expenses the leadership/elders decide upon), vs. an individual who participates in or takes charge of some area or duty or event which does not require an official, standing position (e.g., organizing and running some bake or rummage sale to raise funds for some missionary activity).
So there is a distinction between Servant and servant for the reasons outlined above, but I also see no reason from scripture why women ought to be excluded from either big or little "D" service to a local church. The "husband of one wife" in 1st Timothy 3:12 could mean that; on the other hand, when, e.g., Paul says at 2nd Corinthians 13:11, "Finally, brothers, rejoice!", I am sure that we are not to take this and many similar instances to mean that the women members of the congregations addressed are meant to be excluded because Paul uses the word "brothers". This was a patriarchal time, of course, so that when he says "husband of one wife" it may well be that he had in mind men (at least for the most part) serving in these positions, and it may well have been that men (for the most part) served in those positions in the past. I don't believe that verse can be turned into a biblical prohibition against women serving as official "big D" deacons. And, again, if this is what the church is worried about rather than teaching the Word, they are not going anywhere anyway regardless of what they do on this issue.
This time questions that really should be "The two witnesses are Moses and Elijah"-like, I think. No application and hypotheticals for once!
I recently came across some notes on John 4 that made several points, and I am curious to hear what you think:
1) The tone/attitude of the Samaritan woman
When the Samaritan woman is responding to Jesus in John 4:9ff., the notes claim that her words "must have" (i.e., they take a certain position) inherently been somewhat unfriendly, due to the bad blood between the Samaritans and the Jews. So the notes say her question in v. 9 -- "How can you ask me to offer you a drink?" -- would be one of accusation more than confusion, as I had previously always viewed the situation.
They also say that this bit
"Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?"
Would have been more a sarcastic question, a challenge. That she would have said this with something of a sneer, rather than with confusion/curiosity.
2) The time of day
The notes also made a big deal out of the fact that this was noon. They claim that culturally, women would normally go get water in the early morning, so the fact that this woman was doing so at midday must be because she was ashamed at her sin, ashamed of her five failed marriages (and now living together with a man she was not married to) -- that she was purposefully avoiding the gossip and judgment of the other women of the village, and that's why came later in the day when the others wouldn't be there.
3) Her enthusiasm at getting access to the new water
The notes also said something along the lines that the woman must have been thinking that Jesus was talking about a secret stream tucked away in some hidden place or something of the sort, so her enthusiasm in v. 15 -- "give me this water so that I won't get thirsty and come here to draw water" -- had more to do with her desire to avoid the eyes of others due to the shame (as above) than avoiding the labor of drawing water. That the focus is on the "not coming here" (i.e., the public well, with the gazes of others upon her) rather than not having to draw water.
Thus far, I'd always viewed her response here as almost child-like happiness (something innocent) at potentially being able to avoid the grueling physical labor of drawing and carrying water.
Overall, the combination of these interpretations paints this woman in a far more negative light than I'd come across before.
She was obviously not perfect -- as the husband situation shows -- but I'd always previously viewed her as more curious and confused in this passage than antagonistic. Basically, something along the lines of "Why in the world is this Jew talking to me? Don't they hate us, and never condescend to speak to us? And even more -- why is he just randomly speaking to me as a woman alone?! Isn't that just not done?"
And then her question about Jacob's well was more like "I don't get it. Where does he get the water from? Jacob was our great ancestor, but even he had to dig a well, right?" So less scornful sarcasm than outright confusion. Kind of like when Nicodemus doesn't at all get the concept of being born again in John 3, and the disciples decide Jesus said to beware the "leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees" in Matthew 16:6 because they didn't bring any bread with them. Or even just later in this chapter, in John 4:33, when the disciples wonder if someone had come by when they were gone and given Jesus food, given that He said "I have food to eat that you know nothing about." Even though Jesus wasn't talking about physical food there at all.
Basically, just like in all these other circumstances, I'd always thought this woman was just legitimately perplexed at Jesus' words, not sarcastically/rudely trying to challenge Jesus.
And more than all this, when one finishes this story, the enthusiasm and testimony of this woman is implied to be a driving force behind the salvation of the other Samaritan people in the town (vv. 39-42). That is to her credit, right?
I can't quite square her running about and marshalling all the people with the notion that she was trying to hide her face from all her neighbors out of shame. The two things would seem to oppose one another, one would think. (Not that this says all sorts of good things about her attitude toward her sin, I suppose -- that is, that she didn't feel such shame -- but the point stands regardless).
So, in any case, with regard to (1) through (3), I think my positions are more that:
1) The woman was confused and curious, not antagonistic per se
2) The time of day was sort of neither here nor there. Maybe she just needed more water for something. We shouldn't go so far out on a limb and say she must have been avoiding others.
3) The woman's enthusiasm was more about avoiding physical toil than avoiding the gazes of others by means of some supposed secret stream.
What do you think? I'm not entirely closed to any of the things the notes mentioned, I just wasn't convinced by the sparse explanations/evidence provided for the assertions.
I agree with you (and I'd toss those notes!).
This woman is very much a positive model: she wasn't perfect but she also wasn't self-righteous; and when she realized that Jesus was the Messiah, she very wisely found a way to lead others to the truth as well.
One of my seminary profs. pointed out one time that, men being men, if she had been more direct they might have rejected the idea without consideration, so instead of saying "I've found the Messiah", saying, as she said, "Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" (Jn.4:29 NKJV), was very adept in avoiding the eliciting of an initially negative response through challenging the men with a statement they were unlikely to accept – one of the few good observations I got in two years at Talbot.
Do you mean by this that she intentionally made it initially about "come see this man who told me 'everything I ever did'!" rather than "come see the Messiah!"? Is that what her "not being more direct" means? And are you saying that she used this approach of luring the others there completely on purpose, being clever enough to realize it was necessary to get them to come?
Also, can you think of other places in the gospels' narrative where large groups of people are said to believe in Jesus? This passage doesn't say that the whole town believed, but it does say "many." Doesn't that put this town head and shoulders above most places Jesus visited in Israel itself?
Yes, I believe her approach was intentional. Not "underhanded" in any
way; merely recognizing how men's egos work and asking them a question
to pique their interest rather then telling them something with
authority which might have back-fired . . . and it worked.
Good point about the Samaritans responding much more positively than the Jews. Even those 5,000 who were miraculously provided with bread and fish didn't stick with Him very long (cf. Jn.6:66).
I admit I was wrong to reject your ministry and the Bible teaching in it...so I have a question. Are women allowed to have jobs according to Scripture? Asking because my mother is widowed and has to take care of us all by herself, since I can't get a job yet. Thank you.
On the one hand, I don't know of any biblical verse that could be reasonably
construed to suggest that a Christian woman shouldn't have a job.
On the other hand, there are numerous scriptural examples that point in the other direction. To take just a few, Lydia, the great believer in Philipi, had her own business (Acts 16:14-15); Priscilla worked in the tent making business with her husband, Aquila (Acts 18:2-3); and in Solomon's ode to the ideal wife, we find her praised for her money-making efforts (Proverbs 31:10-31).
Our Lord has a specific plan for the lives of each one of us. Our job as believers of either gender is to follow Him. That means, of course, denying ourselves (putting Him not ourselves first), picking up our crosses (committing to what He wants us to do), and following Him (that is, actually following through on the prior commitment). "Doing what He wants" is first and foremost, spiritual growth, progress and production. Whatever we need to do to survive in this world, working for our daily bread, is in the end only incidental to the more important cause of following our Lord. Circumstances will vary for us all, but how we have grown, passed tests, and helped others through ministry will be the basis for whether or not our Lord tells us "Well done, good and faithful servant!" on that great day of days.
Happy New Year Doc!
What do you think the biblical definition of gender is? I'm guessing the biological sex assigned at birth, because this is how God created them to be. this seems to be the common belief among Christians regarding this. Asking partially because of all the trans craze here in America right now. All the myriad "genders" people identify as these days make me miss when this country was a bit more sane in my childhood (not that it was ever truly sane in my lifetime, was born around the start of this century after all).
You are right, of course. A simple question with a simple answer:
So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Genesis 1:27 NKJV
As far as God is concerned, as far as the Bible is concerned, that's all there
is to it: PERIOD.
Wishing you and yours a blessed 2023 as well, my friend!
I’m alive, just, the Ukrainian command is still stuck on Soviet doctrine. Trying to train up the Ukrainian guys, it’s rough going. We take trenches one day just to have them taken back the next day.
Thanks for checking in!
I'm keeping you and your safety in my daily prayers, my friend!
*[email received 7/15/23: please pray for our friend]