Women in Assembly
An Authentication of Quietness, a Charge unto Greatness, and a defense of obeying the Bible’s amazing and indispensible commands to embrace the virtue of True Feminine Modesty
The first part of this work called, “Women in the ‘christian Assembly’” was originally a question that was answered in our FAQs. This particular document as you see it now was written, revised and recompiled 1/13 – 1/15/10; and revised: 6/1/10; 10/23/10 ; 1/4/12
This is a defense against those who oppose us, a consolation for those who are with us, and a plea for those who are caught somewhere “in-between,” and we do this in the form of a pure proclamation of what the Bible says, even if every foolish man disagrees.
I have been asked the question by church people:
I have actually repented of believing what I feel, and I have chosen to believe what the Bible says instead:
Though the Bible strongly and clearly commands that women are to be silent in the context of an assembly, (1Co_14:29-38; 1Ti_2:11-15) and that they are not to teach or have authority over a man, (1Ti_2:12; Rev_2:20; Isa_3:12) this does not mean that they don’t have a place of ministry.
Exo_15:20; (Mic_6:4); Jud_4:4 - Jud_5:31; 2Ki_22:14-20; Luk_2:36-38; Act_2:18; Act_21:9; 1Co_11:5
Prophecy is said to be the second greatest spiritual gift (1Co_12:28), so if the Bible says that women can prophesy, this speaks strongly of a woman’s high and honorable place in ministry. And one of the most exciting examples of this is my favorite heroine, Deborah, the Judge, who had tremendous influence over the entire nation of Israel, as she was a judge and prophetess for them (Jdg_4- Jdg_5; also see 2Sa_20:16-22).
Qualifications of Servants, including Women (1Ti_3:8-13)
1Ti_3 is a primary passage on overseers and servants (deacons) of the Church, and in the very middle of this passage it describes “women” as being involved in this:
1Ti_3:8-10 - Virtue requirements (male-oriented)
1Ti_3:11 - Virtue requirements of the women involved in this
1Ti_3:12-13 - More specific requirements (male-oriented), and the hope of reward
Phebe – The Servant of the church in Cenchrea
This general reference to female servants of the Church in 1Ti_3 is even more clearly confirmed in Rom_16:1-2, where “δι” (diakononG1249, that is, “servant” or “deacon”) is applied to a woman named Phebe; (Also compare, especially the Greek of: Luk_8:2-3; Act_18:26; and also see Rom_16:1-7).
- You can consider the overall general purposes of deacons in the Bible by comparing our FAQs on Servants of the Church (deacons).
- You can also read about the distinctive, particular purposes for a “female servant” (deaconess) of a Church in various parts of early Church history where they were found extremely useful in serving other women in ways that male servants (deacons) could not properly serve.
Other women: Jer_9:20; Tit_2:2-5; 1Ti_5:2 (in these last two references, the female variations of πρεσβύτερος (presbuteros) are used, which suggests a female “Elder” for women);
Children: Pro_1:7-9; Pro_6:20-24; Pro_14:1; Pro_31:1-31; 1Ti_5:10, 1Ti_5:14; and then also compare: 2Ti_1:5; 2Ti_3:15
Though women do not have the same purpose or position as men in society or in an assembly, they are spiritually equal with them:
Pro_31:16-17; 1Sa_25:3, 1Sa_25:18-19, 1Sa_25:23-34; Joh_2:5; 1Pe_3:6
Here are many of the Scriptures for women in ministry which do call on them to speak, which address and clarify how they are to function in this manner:
Jdg_4:5-9 - Deborah is “begged” to be a Judge for Israel
2Sa_20:13-22 - The wise woman in the city
Est_4:8-17; 5:1-5; 7:1-6 - Esther risks her life to expose the plot of Haman against the Jews
Jon_4:28-30, Jon_4:39-42 - The woman at the well
Luk_24:8-11 - The women at the Resurrection
Rom_16:1-2 - Phoebe the deaconess is charged to address the Church leadership at Rome
1Co_11:5; 14:4, 29-38 - Women encouraged to Prophesy, (though not publically)
Luk_10:38-42 - Ok to ask questions while a man is hanging out (Luk_10:38, 40 - as in Joh_12:2) and teaching in a House
Luk_11:27-28 - A woman in the crowd comments while Jesus is teaching outside
Act_18:24-26 - Aquila and Priscilla Explaining (“bringing out” or sharing: ἐκτίθημι - ektithēmi) the Way of God to Apollos
This section has been written to address the pressure often given for women to speak up in classes, or other similar co-ed gatherings. This is an official response to explain why we do not let the women among us speak in any assemblies like this.
Those among us have corporately chosen to believe the Bible. If our faith is found vain and worthless, then we will be no different than everything that people are used to in religion as a whole, or even that which is shamefully labeled as Modern Christianity today. Because we are determined to actually obey the Bible, we have chosen an extremely unpopular and persecuted way of life that is opposed by the world, including what people call the church.
We desire and seek to be Biblical/historical (real) Christians. We are neither pagans nor Muslims, and we have no real relation to the modern ideas of christianity which includes practically everything of the visible, mainline, religious institution after 325 AD, and even includes the Protestantism that eventually resulted in the 1500s and morphed into countless varieties on up to our present day.
Contrary to the indulgent posture and practice of modern christianity, we have chosen to love and embrace that way of life which is hated most by the whole world. We have chosen to actually obey the Bible, and in the long run, typically neither overt pagans, nor those that call themselves christians care to tolerate our cherished way of life.
Because of who we are and what we must embrace, it is expected and only natural that people misunderstand us, and those who love to despise us will not care to appreciate or recognize the morality, modesty, and truth that we are lovingly bound to keep with our lives.
Because of the things stated above, it is not surprising at all that our age has little to no concept of Biblical modesty and morality. In so many ways, we find ourselves needing to proclaim and teach so many things that people have no clue that the Bible plainly says. And because those among us are committed to obeying the commands in the Bible, including those that are unpopular, ignored, and forgotten, our women are not permitted to speak in any public gathering of people in a co-ed context.
The Bible definitely and clearly teaches that women are forbidden to speak in “ἐκκλησία” (ekklēsia). A primary example of this (among a good number of other passages) is found in First Corinthians chapter 14. (Especially: 1Co_14:23 – “συνέλθῃ ἡ ἐκκλησία ὅλη ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ” and 1Co_14:33-38, and especially see the word, “αἰσχρὸν” in verse 35).
“ἐκκλησία” (ekklēsia) in its lexical definition (in Greek) as well as in its practical Biblical usage addresses basically any and every kind of assembly. This definition and usage would include assemblies from secular college classes to “religious assemblies,” which we may commonly call “churches” in English. The Greek principle of “ἐκκλησία” (ekklēsia) is certainly not at all restricted, confined, or defined by the concept of a “religious assembly” as it may be commonly represented (or misrepresented) in many English versions by the use of the almost unrelated English word “church”. Nor is “ἐκκλησία” (ekklēsia) determine by the size of the group, but by the nature of officially gathering in assembly, because smaller groups are often called an “ἐκκλησία” (ekklēsia; and for a few examples of this, see our FAQs on “House Church”).
Because of the consistent teachings throughout the Scriptures, we can be sure that the prohibition of women speaking in “ἐκκλησία” (ekklēsia) is not in regard to the “religious properties” of the gathering, but instead, Paul explicitly says that the prohibition is based on the concept and danger of “αἰσχρὸν” (aischron), that is, the Greek word for shame as used in 1Co_14:35, which would almost certainly be caused by the “αἰσθητήριον” (aisthētērion) that is, by being “perceived” or “seen,” (by men) just as he says to Timothy (in 1Ti_2:9) that women on the contrary ought to be adorned with “αἰδοῦς” (aidous), that is, “hidden-ness.”
It does not say, “in The Church Building” or “in a Church Service” but simply, “in assembly”
We should take note that the explanation in First Corinthians 14 does not particularly specify “The” (Christian) Assembly so much in prohibiting women to speak, since there is no definite article in Paul’s explanation of why he is giving this command:
1Co_14:35 – Greek/English (Jos.Trans.)
(Note: The superscripted numbers above are the order one would typically read this in English)
This does not communicate: “women cannot speak in the (Christian) Church”
But instead it is saying: “women cannot speak in (the occurrence of) an Assembly.”
This does not address something specific about the christian church, but about the principal of an “Assembly,” which is why this work is titled directly after the Greek of this Bible verse: “Women in Assembly” (γυναιξὶν ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ).
This basic awareness of human propriety in an assembly and the distinctive needs for honoring and protecting women in this context can be repeatedly seen in the Scriptures, and is consistently reaffirmed by the writings of the early Church leaders, especially during the Ante-Nicene period (i.e. before the official apostasy of 325 AD).
The Bible also teaches a very basic reality, that modesty reaches far beyond putting on sufficient clothing. The Bible consistently teaches that modesty is at least threefold:
(1) Vocal (How and where one speaks)
(2) Social (How one interacts with society), and
(3) in Clothing (How one dresses to hide the body from being seen)
This pattern is somewhat referenced or even summarized in numerous passages such as 1Pe_3:1-6 and 1Ti_2:8-15.
All of these particularly feminine pursuits of modesty (as seen in the two references above) are described throughout the Scriptures as a pursuit of becoming: gentle, quiet, submissive and humble, and no more amazing women have ever walked on the earth than these, since by them kingdoms have been overthrown and societies have been delivered and saved. As it says in Jesus’ most frequently quoted chapter of Proverbs:
Pro_25:15 CAB …a soft tongue breaks the bones.
We prize and highly value the preservation of the femininity of our women. We zealously guard and protect it, so that we heap honor upon them in preserving them from being on display in any way. Our women themselves consider putting on humility and hidden-ness as putting on a crown of gold from God. We do not want the female race to in any way be exploited. Our women cherish the shadow of not being seen, and the protection of not being heard by the assemblies of people, because in loving these things they find Divinely imparted virtue and favor from God.
It would be an unreasonable perversion for any man or woman to pressure or compel them to uncover and display themselves visually, audibly, or socially in any way from this modesty that we have mentioned here.
The fact that American and modern churches as a whole do not teach these things is irrelevant to our application here as discussed in this letter, since they have virtually nothing to do with the Bible in terms of actually obeying it. Modern christianity is irrelevant for determining our faith and practice, since we have nothing to do with such faults (or hypocrisies), and we are in fact, committed to actually opposing their example and misrepresentations to the rest of their overtly secular people that do not even claim to believe the Bible.
We find it a striking shame for the public concept of Christianity that many notorious Muslim sects more zealously and correctly conformed to the specific purity standards of the Bible than the vast majority of what is known as modern christianity.
The conclusions and great hopes of our desires for women in both secular and “christian assemblies”
I know that it is highly unpopular in our modern and “advanced” culture when we hear of the passages in the Bible where we see “Women Commanded not to Speak in Assembly,” but they are Scripture and must be submitted to regardless of our vain preferences, perceptions and foolish ideas about what is right. We must not shy away from them because they are unpopular. We should agree with these Scriptures and not find excuses to not agree with them, such as blaming the customs of the day, or distorting descriptions of women in ministry as though they were speaking and or teaching men and women publically, and using such distortions of passages to overthrow clear emphatic commands for women not to do such things. Rather the Bible commands that we take such a stance of protecting the dignity of women by promoting their sanctity and special use, protecting them in modesty and purity, keeping them modestly clothed, as well as keeping them from being displayed publically by their voice or inappropriate social interaction, (see: 1Pe_3:6, and the references at the beginning of “Women Commanded not to Speak in Assembly”).
Though it is right to take stands for Truth even in the area of women in ministry, it seems that the references toward the beginning of this work to the ministry that women do rightfully have, have been ignored for a long time, or even forgotten altogether. Somehow, whether we agree with the Bible or not, we’ve tended to think that “Not Speaking in church” means not having a place of honorable service among Jesus’ people.
In seeking to get the modern church saved in the first place, in many cases I am more than willing to work with people who do not yet fully obey the Bible in this way. As a practice, I have never withdrawn from anyone for not standing with me on this issue. But I do exhort in two ways in light of this:
If people as a whole are ever going to be holy before God, they need to see this displayed out in the holiness of Christian women before men. We often justify Muslims who are refusing to follow Jesus when we display unto them our unchaste women, which we prostitute in public display!
If lawless people are ever going to repent and obey the law of freedom (Jas_1:25; Jas_2:12), it constrains us that they would hear an accurate Gospel that does not oppose the goodness God has in mind for women, by somehow neglecting to affirm that they have a place of greatness in ministry. It is just not right to let lost, lawless church people outdo real Christians in any matter of proclaiming true things. I call on all those who follow Jesus: that we should be the first to lift up the example of Deborah, and call all women to such greatness!
Copyright © Josiahs Scott, All rights reserved (see below)
The only reason I put this here is to avoid people misusing this work with bad motives. This is officially copyrighted to protect it from those with money in mind, and to preserve it for free distribution, especially in the unlikely event that someone might think to make money off of it rather than maximizing its distribution. You are permitted and encouraged to freely copy and redistribute this work in its entirety, via standard copy machine or electronic documentation as long as you make no money off of it. If you wish to reproduce this work on any larger scale, please contact me at Josiahs@trueconnection.org. You may also quote this document, by citing the reference as:
“[Name of Bible Study]” By Josiahs Scott, www.TrueConnection.org