Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sola Scriptura

... in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.  Through the prayers of our holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us.  Amen.  Glory to You, our God, Glory to You.

O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, You are everywhere and fill all things, Treasury of blessings, and Giver of life: come and abide in us, and cleanse us from every impurity, and save our souls, O Good One.

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us (three times).

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it is now, was in the beginning, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.

Sola Scriptura

The well-known Latin quotation, “Lex orandi, lex est credendi,”[1] “the law of prayer or worship, is the law of faith,” provides some interesting insights into our concept of Sola Scriptura.[2]  It is interesting because the oral[3] law of prayer or worship preexisted the New Testament writings, and may even have preexisted all or part the Old Testament, especially the Old Testament canonization.

Certainly, Adam and Eve, together with Cain and Abel (prior to 4000 BC), practiced an oral lex orandi thousands of years before the first appearance of the writing of canonical Scripture by Moses between 1446 and 1406 BC.  Indeed, the very murder of Abel by Cain, was about jealousy over their different practices of lex orandi.  We could also adduce extra Biblical sources to show that lex orandi was built into the νους (the mind) of man, and into the ἦθος (ethos) of human culture, but this would be tedious.  At the very least the ethos of the oral lex orandi would require that mankind had a duty to pray and worship.

However, the dispute between Cain and Abel was over how they worshipped; Cain’s sacrifice pleased God, while Abel’s sacrifice did not please God.  The two sacrifices were different in form and therefore followed distinct lex orandi.  While God’s displeasure may not have related to the difference of form; but possibly, rather to a difference of attitude, faith, or sincerity; nevertheless, the difference of form did exist.  Even though we may not speak with certainty about the details of the worship of Cain and Abel today; we speak with absolute confidence that the lex orandi of over 6000 years ago contained more than the idea that mankind had a duty to pray and worship, precisely because of the differences between the worship of Cain and the worship of Abel.  The lex orandi from before 4000 BC already contained an idea of form or rule, an Ordo.

We must be very careful here: for, even though the lex orandi of both Cain and Able may have been good; the outcome of one was evil and the other was not.  We have already observed that the source of the fault may be one of attitude, of the heart.  Nevertheless, Ordo, that is a tradition of order as found in an oral lex orandi, in and of itself, does not guarantee orthodoxy.

We could continue to follow the development of this oral lex orandi, this Ordo, through the rest of the book of Genesis: for it was in existence for over 2,500 years; we won’t do this.  We have already sufficiently proved the existence of oral lex orandi centuries before the existence of canonical Scripture.  Hence, the Bible itself requires the existence of an oral lex orandi prior to a law of Scripture; and it is erroneous, even heretical to proclaim the idea of Sola Scriptura, if by this we mean that lex orandi, salvation history, tradition does not exist, is not important, or does not have parallel authority and significance with the Bible.

As the codification of lex orandi bursts upon the pages of history between 1446 and 1406 BC, we are enabled to make several pointed observations from Torah itself.

       The codified lex orandi, the Bible, the Scripture, in its Autographa is built on and rests on an unwritten lex orandi, an ethos accepted among the lovers of God, a tradition, a traditional Ordo.  As such the codified lex orandi can neither stand nor be understood apart from this contextual foundation.  Which is precisely why God gave Genesis to Moses, before He gave Exodus, and the rest of Torah.

       If the codified lex orandi is superior to the oral lex orandi, and it is in many ways: for the codified lex orandi explains details of heaven’s nature that would not otherwise be known.  From Torah we learn about the shape and furnishing of the heavenly Temple, the prototypical nature of the Eucharist, and the behavior of the people of God in all their civil, moral and ceremonial activities.  We learn the first formal lessons of prayer and sacrifice, the first Psalm (the Psalm of Moses and Miriam, and the establishment the liturgy of time: of hours in the required morning and evening sacrifices, of the Sabbath of days, the Sabbath of years, and of the mandatory annual festal cycle.  Which is to say that the nation Israel has imbedded in its constitution a lex orandi having both a liturgy of time and an inseparable liturgy of the Eucharist (especially Leviticus): the two are interwoven in a seamless garment.

       Clearly, we learn from this codification of the lex orandi through Moses that Sola Scriptura has a point, but it is not an absolute point, it is not a point that is separable from its foundational history, or makes sense without that historical oral lex orandi.

       We also learn that any disputes that arise, even civil disputes must be settled from this codified lex orandi: for as Moses give the Law he received from God, civil, moral, and ceremonial matters are inseparable; they are interwoven elements of the same single garment, and may not be divided.  Simply put, a civil offense is an offense of worship against a Holy God.

       Yet, if the codified lex orandi is superior to the oral lex orandi in one aspect, it is inferior in another: for Abraham, without either Law or Bible, had faith, which was accounted to him for righteousness (Genesis 15:4-6; Romans 4:1-4, 9-22; Galatians 3:5-9; James 2:20-24).  So the Bible itself looks up to the example and faith of a Patriarch, who never even knew what a Bible was, who nevertheless had a superior relationship, a friendship with God.  Before we allow this idea to open the door to every wild and spurious heresy, we hasten to point out that this superiority rested on the strength of the Person in Whom Abraham believed, not on the glories of Abraham’s oral lex orandi.  What Abraham in fact proves is that there is no lex orandi without an attendant lex credendi.  The Bible without faith is just another worthless printed document, of which millions of such examples exist in this world, all of which possess a rapidly fading glory.  The value of the Bible is that it came from God, and is inseparable from faith; its chiefest virtue resides in its being engraved on the human heart, not in its printing in a book.

       Moreover, a great deal has been written about Old Testament canonicity.  Some men claim that the Old Testament was canonized by the Jews at a supposed council of Jamnia; yet the evidence for such a council is sparse, while the evidence that canonicity of Scripture was discussed at Jamnia is nil.  Jamnia remains an unproved and irrelevant hypothesis.  A little thought reveals to us that the canonization of the books of the Bible took place over a process of time shortly after they were inspired.  There can be little doubt that Torah was already canonized around 1406 BC because Moses gave commandment that the Autographs be “laid up” beside the Ark in the presence of the Shekinah.  At the ceremony of “laying up” the books were made fully canonical by the Shekinah Himself, while all the people affirmed that they would be obedient.  From this point on, any human declaration that any book is canonical is simply irrelevant and moot: the issue is already decided by God; man has no voice other than to agree.  It is also painfully obvious that the exilic books, and post-exilic books, were never canonized in this way; so apart from the authority of Jesus Christ, with the Holy Ghost, these books can have no canonical status.  We conclude that the Bible is canonized by God, and not in any way by man.

We have certainly proved that the oral lex orandi both preceded the Bible, and provided its foundation.  We also showed that the written lex orandi is only partly superior to the lex credendi, provided that it is “mixed with faith:” for after millennia Abraham is still the pinnacle of human faith, and the foundation stone of several Biblical discussions.  As we approach the New Testament, we see that both an oral and a canonical, codified lex orandi are already in place, and are operative only where a vibrant lex credendi accompanies them with faith.

The declaration and gift of the Day of Pentecost in 33 AD certifies to The Church its oral lex orandi, and empowers The Church to codify that lex orandi.  This oral lex orandi is obviously taken from the lex orandi of the Synagogue, about which we know virtually nothing from Scripture, and very little is known from extra-biblical Jewish commentary.  Indeed the Israelite-Judean religious ethos brings with it a great deal of traditional material which is assumed by both Jesus and the New Testament.  Jesus rejects some of this oral lex orandi[4] as being contrary to that which He gave to Moses at Mount Sinai; while other parts of this lex orandi are embraced and approved by Him.  He quotes freely from books like Daniel (Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14) without which we would not really know that Daniel is canonical; and freely from the Septuagint, without which we could not really know that the Greek Old Testament preserves the best extant record of the Hebrew Scripture.  Even if other, older documents are found, there would be no evidence that Jesus, God ever endorsed them or made them canonical.

What should be clear is that The Church and the New Testament grew together side-by-side in the first century.  A rich tradition of worship continued and grew, with only brief notations of its existence in the New Testament.  The Bible of The Church in the first century was the Old Testament, and from the largely oral lex orandi the New Testament was written by the lex credendi, as the Holy Ghost led The Church into all truth.  This worship was both ancient, as the legitimate heir of the Old Testament lex orandi; but it was at the same time new and fresh because of the sudden arrival of God Who had given the Old Testament lex orandi and had now corrected its abuse.

Still, unless we are prepared to construct a service of worship based on the book of Revelation alone, we are hard put to explain how our form, our Ordo of worship came to us: because the New Testament is largely silent on the matter; the New Testament assumes a common knowledge, an ethos of liturgical behavior.

Nevertheless, the, albeit overstated, claim of Sola Scriptura, serves warning that the oral lex orandi, the traditions of The Church have been the subject of much abuse.  There are many who can quote canon law at length and verbatim to justify any and every foul heresy known to man; thereby perpetuating evil on earth within The Church Herself.[5]  Such quote the canon, without either understanding the Fathers who gave it, or considering the Bible that the Fathers loved, quoted, and by which they lived.  Since we are necessarily firmly tethered to the Bible our oral lex orandi may not violate its claims.  The Bible itself affirms the legitimacy of an oral lex orandi; but not an oral lex orandi in contradiction to it.

If we are tethered, and we are, at one and the same time to Jesus (Hebrews 6:13-20), to The Church (Hebrews 12:18-29), and to the Bible (Hebrews 1:1-4).  It is this tether, made effective by the power of the Holy Ghost, which prevents our being hopelessly adrift.

That being said, we continue to live and worship by a largely oral lex orandi, even to this very day; although we may frequently pretend and openly deny that this oral lex orandi exists.  As a pointed example, styles of preaching are widely varied throughout Christendom; yet, where in the Bible would one find justification for any one of them.  For instance, illustrations are often sought from secular life to make the Scripture “relevant.”  What is the Biblical warrant for that?

The Bible itself affirms the legitimacy of an oral lex orandi.  We must be constantly on guard that this lex orandi remain the lex credendi, that it neither be trampled underfoot to be destroyed by the will of man, or used to justify every deviant behavior found among us.  We may say that councils and popes may err, yet they do not err very often.

Moreover, we must also note that none of the glorious claims made about the Bible[6] are made about the oral lex orandi.  We may continue to say Sola Scriptura, but we will say it softly, because it brings with it an assumption of a wealth of historical tradition, necessary to the life of The Church.  We will certainly not use Sola Scriptura as a war cry with which to attack other Christians, thus inviting war rather than peace.[7]

[2] The seminal idea for this meditation came from Fr. Alexander Schmemann, Introduction to Liturgical Theology, (St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Yonkers, NY, 1966: 220 pages).
[3] That which was handed down by word of mouth from one generation to another, and had no separate existence in any written form: that which is a not-codified lex orandi.
[4] We believe that the Jewish Haggadah (commentaries on Scripture), and Halakah (rules for life, an Oral Torah, equal in authority to Torah) were primarily oral; which in and of itself reveals that Sola Scriptura was an unknown concept in the first century.  Not until after the destruction of Herod’s Temple in 70 AD (Herod’s Temple is not the Second Temple, which was built by Zerubbabel around 516 BC.  See Ezra Chapters 1-6.  Herod’s Temple is the third, fourth, fifth … temple: for the second temple was razed by the Greeks at least once.); not until after the destruction of Herod’s Temple in 70 AD, did Haggadah and Halakah come to be written down.  Two primary documents exist: the Mishnah (circa 220 AD) and the Talmud (circa 360 AD).  This contains the false teaching with which both Jesus and Paul (especially in Romans) took issue.  Neither, Jesus who gave the Torah, nor Paul who gave his life to its study can possibly be disputing with Moses; rather the issue under dispute is the false interpretation of Torah.  Also pertinent is the fact that Jesus fulfills all the requirements of Torah, as well as being its primary interpreter, and its best example of obedience.
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[5] The tares will be sown continually in the wheat field (Matthew 13:24-30).
[6] All of Isaiah, Chapter 11, especially verse 9; Jeremiah, Chapter 23, especially verses 28-29; Habakkuk, Chapter 2, especially verse 14.  However, consider this, that neither Isaiah nor Habakkuk deny the possibility of the message spread by tradition, by word of mouth.  Even so Jeremiah has a harsh warning for false prophets who hide behind a misleading lex orandi.  See also: Psalm 19, all; 68:11; 119, all, especially verses 12, 89, 136, and 176.
[7] If you have been blessed or helped by any of these meditations, please repost, share, or use any of them as you wish.  No rights are reserved.  They are designed and intended for your free participation.  They were freely received, and are freely given.  No other permission is required for their use.

August 26, 2014 Tuesday Talk, Women in the Church

...  in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.  Through the prayers of our holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us.  Amen.  Glory to You, our God, Glory to You.

O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, You are everywhere and fill all things, Treasury of blessings, and Giver of life: come and abide in us, and cleanse us from every impurity, and save our souls, O Good One.

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us (three times).

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it is now, was in the beginning, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.

All-holy Trinity, have mercy on us.  Lord, cleanse us from our sins.  Master, pardon our iniquities.  Holy One, visit us and heal our infirmities for Your Name’s sake.  Lord have mercy (three times).

August 26, 2014 Tuesday Talk, Women in the Church

Old Testament Lessons


Exodus 15:20-21 King James Version, Edited and Paraphrased

Miriam the prophetess,[2] the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines, dancing.  Miriam instructed them,[3] “Sing to the Lord: for He has triumphed gloriously; the horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea.”

Numbers 12:7-13[4] King James Version, Edited and Paraphrased

My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all My house.  I will speak mouth to mouth with him, clearly, not in dark speeches;[5] and he shall behold the Similitude of the Lord.[6]  Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?

So the anger of the Lord was kindled against [Aaron and Miriam]; and He departed [from them].[7]  Then the cloud[8] departed from the tabernacle; behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: when Aaron looked at Miriam, behold, she was leprous.  Aaron said to Moses, “Alas, my lord, I beg you, do not lay this sin on us.  We have done foolishly.  We have sinned.[9]  Do not let her be as a dead person, with whom the flesh is half consumed when he comes out of his mother’s womb.”

So Moses cried to the Lord, praying, “Heal her now, O God, I beg You.”

Micah 6:4 King James Version, Edited and Paraphrased

I brought you up out of the land of Egypt, redeemed you out of the house of slavery, and I sent Moses, Aaron, and Miriam[10] before you.


Judges 4:4 King James Version, Edited and Paraphrased

Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, judged Israel at that time.[12]

Other Women in the Old Testament[13]

Joel 2:28 King James Version, Edited and Paraphrased

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:[14]

New Testament Lessons

Luke 8:1-12 King James Version, Edited and Paraphrased

And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the Gospel of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, and certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.[15]

Acts 18:26 King James Version, Edited and Paraphrased

And he [a Jew named Apollos] began to speak boldly in the synagogue; when Priscilla and Aquila had heard him, they took him aside, and explained the way of God to him more perfectly.[16]

1 Corinthians 11:3-16[17] King James Version, Edited and Paraphrased

I wish you to know that Christ is the head of every husband,[18] the husband is the head of his wife;[19] and God is the head of Christ.[20]

Every husband praying or prophesying, having [anything][21] down[22] his head, shames his head;[23] but every wife[24] that prays or prophesies with her head uncovered[25] shames her own[26] head[27]: for this is one and the same as if she were shaved:[28] for if the wife is not covered,[29] let her also shear herself.[30]  Now, if it is a shame for a wife to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered:[31] for indeed a husband ought not to cover[32] the head, being created in[33] the image[34] and glory[35] of God.  Now the wife is the glory of a husband:[36] for the husband is not from the wife, but the wife from the husband.[37]  Neither was the husband created for the wife, but the wife for the husband.  Because of this, the wife ought to have [the symbol of] authority on her head because of the angels.[38]

However, neither is a husband separate from a wife, nor a wife separate from a husband, in the Lord: for as the wife[39] is from the husband, so also the husband comes through the wife;[40] yet all things are from God.[41]

Judge for yourselves: is it becoming for a wife to pray to God uncovered[42]?  Or does not even nature itself teach you, that, if a husband has long hair, it is a shame to him?  Now if a wife has long hair, it is a glory to her: for her long hair is instead a mantle[43] given to her.[44]  Now if anyone thinks to be contentious, we have no such tradition[45], nor do the churches of God.[46]

1 Corinthians 14:34-35 King James Version, Edited and Paraphrased

Let your women[47] keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted to them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as the law[48] also says.  And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.[49]

Galatians 3:22-29 King James Version, Edited and Paraphrased

The scripture has concluded all under sin, so that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.  But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.  Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.  But after that[50] faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster: for you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus; for as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if you be Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.[51]

Ephesians 5:21-27 King James Version, Edited and Paraphrased

Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord: for the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of The Church: and He is the Savior of the body.  Therefore as the church is subject to Christ, so let wives be to their own husbands in all things.

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word; that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, without spot, wrinkle, or any other defect; but that she should be holy and without blemish.

Philippians 4:3 King James Version, Edited and Paraphrased

I ask you also, true colleague, help those women who labored with me in the Gospel, with Clement also, and with my other colleagues as well, whose names are [written] in the book of life.[52]

Colossians 3:8-11, 18-19 King James Version, Edited and Paraphrased

But now you also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.  Lie not one to another, seeing that you have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision[53], Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.[54]

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.  Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.

1 Timothy 2:9-15 King James Version, Edited and Paraphrased

In like manner also, women [should] adorn themselves in modest apparel,[55] with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becomes women professing godliness) with good works.  Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.  I do not allow a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence: for Adam was first formed, then Eve.  And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.  Notwithstanding she shall be spared in bearing children, if they[56] continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

Titus 2:3-5 King James Version, Edited and Paraphrased

The aged women likewise: that they be in behavior as becomes holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.[57]

The Office of Deaconess

Since I am unable to develop a full orbed evaluation of the office of Deaconess in The Church at this time, the best that I can do is direct you to the following references.

The Homily

The topic comes up from time to time.  It’s unavoidable.  What is the role of women in The Church?  Is it acceptable for women to be pastors, priests, bishops, and preachers?

I’ve struggled with this issue many times, been much undecided, and changed my mind several times, trying to resolve this issue over the years.  I’ve sat under the authority of women elders, and women pastors involved with three different denominations.[58]  I’ve been examined for ordination by women, and rejected primarily because I did not bring my wife along to the examination.  She had six children to contend with while I was goofing off, but that didn’t seem to matter.  All of my ambivalent searching behavior was justified by the fact that, as much as the rest of the Bible condemned women leadership in The Church, still, Deborah had to step up when all the men defaulted in Judges.

This time when the conversation came up, I had stabilized somewhat, but still hadn’t formulated a good defense.  So now it’s time to cut to the chase, dig more deeply into the Bible, and find out what it really says.

The particular bone of contention on this occasion was, “Doesn’t it say that “there is neither male nor female?”  Yes, it certainly does say that in Galatians 3, and something very near to it in Colossians 3 (without the specification for women).

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  (Galatians)

“… there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.”  (Colossians)

However, when we look more closely at both of these passages, we find that they are talking about our mutual and universal status in baptism, and our mutual responsibility for good Christian behavior.  Neither of these passages has anything to say about either offices or officers in The Church.  No case for women’s ordination can be made from these passages without doing considerable violence to the near context.

What will we do with Deborah?  The book of Judges describes a period of severe Israelite apostasy.  The second covenant of Moses (Deuteronomy) appears to be broken[59] and, humanly speaking, nullified.  Hence, it does not appear to apply to Deborah because of the brokenness of the age in which Deborah lived.  Had Deborah taken this public stance, either in the days of Joshua, or after the Davidic Covenant is disclosed, Deborah would have been completely out of line.  Is the status of church leadership in some circles broken today by the egregious default and irresponsibility of the males, or is this a brazen case of usurpation?  I know of no denomination where male leadership is totally absent: so it cannot be a case of complete male default, but perhaps it is a case of male dereliction of duty.

Since all of the other Bible passages involved specifically prohibit female leadership, especially ruling or teaching over men, we are compelled to conclude that women are not permitted to lead, preach, or teach where men are involved within the public confines of The Church.  This absolutely prohibits women from being ordained to the office priest or bishop.  In most of these other passages the argument against such ordination hinges on the disgrace placed on a woman’s superior office of wife and mother.  In such office, every wife and mother is an icon of the Blessed Virgin, and she must not vacate the higher office and calling to accept a lower office and calling, that of priest or bishop, this disgracing her own husband.

What none of these other passages prohibit is the function of women preaching and teaching in the context of evangelism, in the context of ministry to other women, in the context of leading all female antiphonal choirs, or in the context of her own house.

There may be considerable warrant for the ordination of women to the office of deacon or sub-deacon.  Decency alone suggests that it is not proper for a man to prepare a woman for baptism, nor for a woman to prepare a man for baptism.  Since such preparations are frequently relegated to deacons, I think that there ought to be ordinations to deaconess in the Church.  However, this is not the place, nor have I the skill to develop a full theology of the deaconate at this time.  The best I can do is suggest a few references for further study.

I’m sorry, but I cannot find a single shred of evidence in either the Old or the New Testaments that permits the ordination of women to either the office of priest (presbuteros) or of bishop (episkopos).  It simply isn’t there.  Moreover, this has stood as an unquestioned tradition in the life of The Church for 1900 years.

What should we do if we are part of a body that has already ordained women elders, pastors, preachers, teachers, priests, and bishops, especially in the context of the leadership of men?  There is little that can be done.  We may hope that godly women will feel the weight of Scripture, and out of a sense of love for God, be moved to relinquish such offices of their own free will.  If the Scriptures have brought you under conviction about these matters, you will probably have to walk away from your denomination and find a new denomination.

This seems like such a little flaw.  However, laxity in one area of God’s authority, quickly leads to other, possibly more serious lapses, until a denomination is eroded to the point where it can no longer be called a church.

There is no warrant that I can find in Scripture for the ordination of women as pastors, priests, bishops, or preachers.  There is not even a warrant for female guest lecturers or other women to speak at all, before men, in the mixed congregation: no talks, testimonies, or questions.

Christ has set us free.  The Holy Ghost makes us free.[60]

[1] For other references to the life of Miriam consult Exodus 2:1-9 (evidently Miriam is the unnamed elder sister); 15, the whole chapter; Numbers 12, the whole chapter; 20:1; 26:59; Deuteronomy 24:9; 1 Chronicles 6:3; and Micah 6:4.
See also
[2] This is a remarkable comment.  In an era when only a few people were given prophetic insight and utterance it is exceedingly rare for anyone to have such a gift.  Moses had extraordinary prophetic and spiritual gifts.  Only seventy elders, the prototypical Sanhedrin, were given understanding of such utterance so that they could explain and lead in accordance with God’s will.  Aaron’s gift was limited in that he could only speak with God by Urim and Thummim, or through Moses.  Here, Miriam has utterance, and is evidently the only woman in Israel with such a gift at that time.  Not until Deborah, do we hear of another woman with gifts of ecstatic insight and utterance.
[3] Led the other women in singing the antiphon to the Psalm of Moses.
[4] The spark of contention is Moses’ Ethiopian wife.  Nevertheless, the real underlying motivation is jealousy over Moses’ prophetic gifts: he speaks to God.  Aaron and Miriam claim that God has spoken through them as well, but they failed to distinguish the magnitude and order of gifts.  God has clearly chosen Moses for leadership of the congregation; particularly in receiving and giving the law.
Aaron understands that his position is merely that of a mediator between Moses and Pharaoh, as well as the people.  Moreover, Aaron speaks to God through Urim and Thummim, not directly in speech, except as an ambassador overhearing the great conversation in Moses’ presence.  This is not unusual: for in general the prophetic office and the priestly office are separated throughout Israel’s history.  Women may be prophets, but women may not be priests.
Miriam has experienced one small taste of the prophetic office in the antiphon to the Psalm of Moses.  She is simply carried away with her own importance.
In contrast to both Aaron and Miriam, who appear to be arrogant, Moses is said to be the meekest man on earth (Numbers 12:3).  Moses’ source of power is not his dominant presence or spectacular public display, but God alone.
[5] A clear line of authority is drawn between Moses, as opposed to even Aaron and Miriam, as well as all others.
[6] Face to face with the Shəkinah.  It would appear that Moses’ later request to see God’s face was the result of his striking the rock in an unwarranted way: evidently he lost this privilege of seeing God face to face.
[7] This may indicate that their spiritual gifts were temporarily stripped away: which would be punishment enough by itself.
[8] The Shəkinah
[9] Aaron immediately acknowledges his error in rebelling against Moses’ gentle (meek) leadership.  It seems that Miriam did not acknowledge her error immediately.
[10] Evidently, Miriam had broad discretionary leadership authority over all other Israelite women.  There is no evidence that she had such authority over men, and when she sought such authority unlawfully, she was punished.
[11] For other references to the life of Deborah consult Judges Chapters 4 and 5.
See also
[12] The full extent of Deborah’s prophetic gift is unknown.  Evidently, she knew the sufficient aspects of the future to predict and direct the outcome of the current war.  She also was a judge for all Israel, and as such exercised judicial authority over all Israelite people, including the men.  Consequently the reasons for and limits of this authority must be thoroughly examined and explained.  Deborah is the only woman known to have exercised judiciary authority.
[13] All other female leaders in the Old Testament are evil.  Delilah: Judges 16.  Jezebel: 1 Kings 16:31; chapters 18; 19; 21; and 2 Kings 9.  Athaliah: 2 Kings 8:26; chapter 11; 2 Chronicles chapters 22; 23; 24:7.  Both Jezebel and Athaliah must be considered to be usurpers, with no real right to leadership authority.
[14] What this verse makes clear is that both men and women receive Spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians chapters 12 through 14) on an equal basis.  Both men and women may receive the gift of prophecy, or any other of the gifts of the Holy Ghost.  Priesthood and Episcopacy are not gifts; rather they are offices, roles for which a woman is unsuited.  Deaconess, on the other hand appears to be an office and a role for which a woman is particularly well suited.  Women may have other roles as well.
Elder women are added to a special church roll, indicating their honored service as senior widows.  Such a roll may actually be a list of the local church Deaconesses.
[15] Clearly these women are active and highly respected servants in the kingdom to hold the distinguished honor of being referenced by name in Scripture.  Still, there is no evidence of their ordination to office.
[16] Two facts are pertinent to this study: One, Priscilla spoke; the Greek text indicates that she spoke first.  This would be the normal order of things: for example, the priests deliver homilies first, in accordance with their “ascending” rank; then the ranking bishop delivers his homily last.  We have termed this ascending, but it is really descending: for “the ruler of all, must be servant of all (Matthew 20:26; Mark 9:35; 10:43; Luke 22:26; John 13:13-15; Acts 17:11).”  We note that this order of things is the reverse of the order of the antiphon, which may indicate that true servants do not consider rank to be important at all.  Two, Priscilla did not speak to correct Apollos in the synagogue, in The Church, in public; but, she spoke in private, most likely within the confines of her own home.
[17] The immediate context of this passage is concerned with the importance of keeping sound Christian traditions (παραδόσεις) which are binding on the conscience, things that are passed down by word of mouth, by action, or in writings other than Scripture.  There never has been such a thing as Sola Scriptura: for the Bible itself specifies traditions with approval, both here and in 2 Timothy 2:2.  Were this not the case we would still understand Sola Scriptura to mean the Bible as it is interpreted in the context of history (tradition): for we could not even wrestle with the textual criticism of the New Testament without understanding its cultural, geographical, and historic development.  For example, we would know very little about the development of worship from the Bible alone.  We would know nothing of the evangelistic and missionary development of The Church, beyond the book of Acts.  Our hymnology would be empty.  (John 21:25)
Sola Scriptura really means that in cases of conflict or differing opinions, if it is possible to resolve the issues from Scripture, then they are resolved, and the Bible has precedence over all other authorities.  That being said, the Bible is not the only authority, and as an authority it makes no sense if removed from its cultural, geographical, and historic context.  Misunderstanding over the true meaning of Sola Scriptura has led to countless unnecessary arguments.  Sola Scriptura never has meant that the Bible stands alone, all by itself; it merely stands alone in rank above other authorities: for every theologian must seek the meanings of Scripture from its historic context.  The primary elements of this context are the living organism, The Church herself, and liturgical worship: for it is clear that the three — The Church, The Bible, and worship — grew together side-by-side as the Holy Ghost led The Church into all truth.  It is the Holy Ghost Who is the primary authority in these matters; alas, our access to the Holy Ghost is severely limited today.
[18] ἀνδρὸς, the genitive singular of ἀνρ: the generic term for a sexually active man, but also the specialized term for a married man, a husband.
[19] γυναικὸς, the genitive singular of γυνὴ: the generic term for a sexually active woman, but also the specialized term for a married woman, a wife.
[20] Since the Son is fully God, and equal to the Father in the essence of His nature, we are forced to inquire about this strange meaning.  Everywhere we see that the Son’s chief aim is to accomplish the Father’s will.  This idea is expressed frequently in the New Testament, and even in the Old (Psalm 40:6-8; Matthew 6:10; 26:42; John 4:32, 34; Hebrews 10:7, 9).  Since this headship is related to the submission of the Son’s will to the Father’s will, it is reasonable to conclude that men everywhere find their chiefest goal and joy in life by submitting their several wills to the will of Christ and following Him.  Likewise, in the force of Paul’s argument women, whether wives or daughters, find their chiefest goal and joy in life by submitting their several wills to the will of their husband or father.  This is not the cruel exercise of oppression, but the kind and gentle will that God expresses to His people through His Shepherd-King and Son.  In this matter, women have the chief role, in that they teach submission to God to their children and the world.
[21] The absence of any word here in Greek is like the contemporary use of “whatever” in modern English.
[22] κατὰ not ἐπί, that which is hanging down, a veil.  Not that resting upon, a hat, skullcap, kippah, yarmulke, koppel, turban, or mitre with its golden plate, many of which are worn in worship depending on the office of the wearer.  Since Pentecost, unlike Moses, it is a disgrace for a man to wear a veil (2 Corinthians 3:7-18).  Here Paul elucidates a different idea; the wife will bask in the glory that God shines through her husband.  Wives should have every reason to think themselves highly honored when they have married a man of God, and born children who become men and women of God.
[23] Here the play on words, “head, shames his head,” indicates the shaming of Christ: for Christ is his head.
[24] γυνὴ the nominative singular of γυνὴ: the generic term for a sexually active woman, but also the specialized term for a married woman, a wife.  See especially 1 Corinthians 7:1-4 where Paul sets the stage for this continuing discussion.
[25] ἀκατακαλύπτῳ, dative feminine singular adjective of ἀκατακάλυπτοϛ, ου, , ἡ, a compound of ἀ + κατα + κάλυπτοϛ: not + down from + blind, conceal, or hide; hence, uncovered or unveiled.
[26] Either αὐτῆς or ἑαυτῆς introduces the probability of double entendre.  At one and the same time she shames her husband and herself, because she and her husband stand equally before Christ.  The ensuing discussion about shaving the head emphasizes the shame she brings upon herself
[27] Here the play on words, “head, shames her head,” also indicates the shaming of her husband: for her husband is her head.  We ought not to see in this, some outmoded formality.  Rather, everywhere, marriage is the icon and type of Christ and The Church.  In this honorable typology the husband takes the role of Christ, while the wife takes the role of The Church, the very kingdom of God.  The playing out of these roles before the children is the principal means of teaching them about respect in worship.  The children are to see the picture of Christ in their father, and the picture of The Church in their mother.  As these roles are defiled, disgraced, or dishonored, the children are driven away from Christ, and away from the Father.  These roles, far from being insignificant, are critical to the growth of the kingdom of God on earth.  As far as teaching about the kingdom is concerned, the wife has the much greater and more significant role to play.
[28] The shaved head indicates some unidentified form of humiliation: possibly cult service, which would indicate dedication to the service of an idol; mourning the death of a husband or other grief; or an extreme disease such as leprosy.  However, Paul, as a Pharisee is intimately familiar with the Law which specifies various punishments for women in Numbers 5:11-31 (the law of jealousy and the bitter water of the curse) and Deuteronomy 21:10-14 (the law of marriage to a captive pagan woman).  In the latter case the shaving of her head identified her as a pagan woman, unfit for marriage until her month of mourning had passed.  If Paul is following this line of reasoning in principle it would identify the woman as an unbeliever, unfit for communion for a month, giving her time to repent.
Paul is probably not indicating the shaving of the head by force; but rather indicating the gravity of such a public display.
[29] κατακαλύπτεται, third person singular, present indicative passive of κατακαλύπ-τω, a compound of κατα + καλύπτω: down from + blind, conceal, or hide; hence, if she is not covered or veiled.
[30] κειράσθω, third person singular, aorist imperative middle of κείρω: cut off, shave, shear.  We have discussed elsewhere the inaptly named Greek imperative mood, which would be better termed the emphatic or exclamatory mood.  It is impossible to convey a third person imperative in English, which only knows of a second person imperative.  To make matters worse, this is in the middle voice, and is reflexive.  The woman, if she wishes to be rebellious, is to shave herself; thus publicly denying her husband’s authority over her.  She may or may not chose to shave herself; there is no implication of force in the words.
[31] κατακαλυπτέσθω, third person singular, present imperative passive of κατακαλύπ-τω, a compound of κατα + καλύπτω: down from + blind, conceal, or hide; hence, let her be covered or veiled.
[32] κατακαλύπτεσθαι, present infinitive passive of κατακαλύπτω, a compound of κατα + καλύπτω: down from + blind, conceal, or hide; hence, to cover, to veil.
[33] ὑπάρχων, nominative masculine singular present participle of ὑπάρχω, a compound of ὑπό + άρχω: under the first, from the first; to begin, exist, come into existence, subsist; here a feature received at the original creation.  It appears to refer to the head, but it is rather the whole man who is created in the image and likeness of God.
[34] icon
[35] The word likeness is changed to glory, indicating that the likeness of God consists of being a bearer of the Shəkinah.  This actually took place at Pentecost, where this gift was received by both men and women.  Since this is the historic case, we must tread lightly, so as not to overstate Paul’s argument.  Spiritually, men and women are equals, but they are different in the natural order of things, different in office and roles.
[36] In addition to being created in the image and glory of God, she is also the glory of her husband.  She is not the glory of her husband, instead of being created in the image and glory of God: for Genesis 1:26-27 distinctly says, “He created them male and female.”  She is the glory of her husband, in addition to being created in the image and glory of God.  Thus, the veil is the insignia of her superior rank.
[37] In the order of creation, Eve was taken from Adam, not the other way around.
[38] Because this order of things centers upon divine principles, this is not merely the local custom of things; it is a heavenly requirement, for which Paul cites a second reason.  First, it is a matter of godly submission, which results in the governmental hierarchy of things as they should be in The Church.  Second, it is because of the angels, which is to say of the messengers, which includes the human bishops, priests, and deacons in The Church.  The Cherubim and Seraphim cannot even bear to look at God: evidently they become very upset with anything that threatens to disrupt God’s Holiness.  They cannot tolerate a breach in God’s order of things.  Human messengers face a different threat, that of being distracted by beauty.
This veil hanging down is to cover the woman’s face and figure so that these are not distracting to the servants of Christ.  There is nothing quite as distracting to the spiritual thought process as the presence of a women with extraordinary countenance, exposed cleavage, or revealed figure.  As Paul notes, hair covers the aft of the woman, but the countenance and cleavage need to be veiled, and the rest of the garments ought not to be provocative in any way.
Perhaps it was unnecessary in Paul’s day, but nowadays a word needs to be said about men’s deportment.  Male cleavage should not be seen either, nor should men dress provocatively, thus disturbing the worship of the females in the congregation.    The wearing of long belts hanging down the front is simply a disgraceful modern codpiece, which should be avoided.
[39] specifically, Eve
[40] by virtue of birth
[41] Paul is careful to point out that in the order of creation, even though woman was created from man; man is also born of woman, and we are all equal.  However, this equality does not extend to issues of authority, and the godly person will recognize the calling of Christ and submit to it gladly and voluntarily.
[42] ἀκατακάλυπτον, accusative feminine singular adjective of ἀκατακάλυπτοϛ, ου, , ἡ, a compound of ἀ + κατα + κάλυπτοϛ: not + down from + blind, conceal, or hide; hence, uncovered or unveiled.
[43] περιβολαίου, genitive singular of περιβόλαιον, ου, τό, from περιβάλλω: to throw around, here thrown around her as a cloak is thrown around the shoulders.  This idea is completely distinct from the idea expressed by the κατακαλύπτοϛ, the veil.
[44] The hair is part of the necessary covering, but it needs to be completed.
[45] συνήθειαν, accusative singular of συνήθεια, αϛ, ἡ, a compound of συν + θος: the community ethos.  In the Greek way of thinking we are persuaded by three forces: the standards or traditions of the community (ethos), words or logic (logos), and experience or suffering (pathos).  For further investigation see Ethos,, and  Paul is not likely to be overly influenced by Greek philosophy, and is probably thinking more in terms of ethics, morality, and standards of character in the Christian community.
[46] This tradition went uncontested for over 1900 years.  Well into the 1940s it was customary for a woman to wear a veil covering her face while she was in church, in the 1950s the veils began to disappear.  With their disappearance, a coincident and possibly unrelated respect for God’s order of things was gradually lost.
[47] The Greek word for women is troublesome.  It may be translated either woman or wife.  Since the Greek word for man is translated as husband in this context, it would appear that the counterpart word must be wife, not women.  This leave the door open for single ladies to be in Church without any protection, which can be a particularly vexing problem.  On the other hand, the text may be translated man, which puts all the women of the household (wives, daughters, dependent sisters, aunts, etc.) under the protecting umbrella of the man.  I do not know how to resolve this issue in the text, but it seems senseless to restrict the speech of the wife, without also restricting the speech of the daughters.
[48] It is evident that Paul has Genesis 3:16 in mind; the principle being that a woman’s first duty is obedience to her husband (or father) because of Eve’s involvement in the first sin.  Husbands and/or fathers are given to women to protect them from further satanic attack.  This is why the father gives the bride away at a wedding; not because she is a chattel or inferior in any way, but because she deserves and needs special protection from Satan.  Paul discusses various facets of this relationship in 1 Corinthians 7.
[49] Obviously, this limitation does not apply to antiphonal Psalm singing, hymn singing, litanies, corporate prayers, and the like: for Miriam freely entered into such worship.  The limitation applies to asking questions, preaching, and teaching where men are present.  Neither can it apply to a meeting for women only, where no men are present; or to a private meeting in the woman’s own house.
[50] That specific faith which leads us to victory by submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ with the power and leadership of the Holy Ghost.
[51] This is an important New Testament consideration: for prior to Pentecost, women, because they could not be circumcised, were not granted equal access to the temple of God, but were restricted to a lower place, as were pagan converts also.  This discrimination for prayer is erased by the Holy Ghost’s baptism, but it does not provide for an equality of office in any way.
[52] The women are to be helped, but clearly they hold a place of high honor in The Church.
[53] In the Old Testament some incorrectly classed women with unbelievers because of circumcision.  This is corrected in the New Testament where women receive the same covenantal sacrament as men.  The only distinction that is permitted is that between believers and unbelievers.  On the other hand, grouping men and women on opposite sides of the main aisle to form an all-male choir and an all-female choir for singing antiphonal songs would be delightful.
[54] Here the equality is clearly applied to ethical and moral Christian behavior; it makes no provision for equality of office whatsoever.
[55] The foremost principle of modesty in all things, is “sauce for the goose, as well as for the gander.”  Modesty is becoming for both males and females.  The flaunting of beauty, power, and wealth is frowned upon, even condemned in both Testaments.  Jezebel was condemned to death in part, because of her flaunting of beauty and power.  She brought about the death of her easily led husband as well.  No one within the worship of The Church needs to see your extraordinary physical endowments, no matter who you are.  Everybody inside and outside of the worship of The Church needs to be blessed by your Spiritual gifts: yet, even these should be adorned with modesty.  Herod’s daughter forgot this, and had John the Baptist beheaded over it.  The empress of Constantinople forgot this, and had John Chrysostom exiled over it.  Pride is a dangerous and lethal thing.
[56] The children: the mother is not under the authority of her children; but if they drift away from the faith, children become cruel taskmasters indeed (Proverbs 17:21, 25).
[57] This indicates that women hold a position of great power.  They may either teach love and submission to God in this world; or they may teach the opposite message.  When they chose to teach the opposite message few men can withstand them.
[58] Two of these women were considerably better at the performance of the pastoral office than many of their male counterparts; so this cannot be made into a question of skill.  It is only an issue of authority.
[59] Whenever a covenant was broken, always by man, never by God, man lost the protection of the covenant.  In such cases God removed Himself from among His people and stood off to the side.  If it was a relatively limited breach, as with Achan (Joshua 7) it could be repaired, albeit with dire consequences; or as also with the bitter waters, the serpent in the wilderness, Aaron and Miriam’s rebellion, Dathan and Abiram, and Korah.  If it was a major breach, as with Moses and the incident with the golden calf (Exodus 32) it could not be repaired, the covenant was broken and the offenders, the Exodus generation were banished from entering into the rest of God on earth.
In such an extreme case a whole new covenant (Deuteronomy) had to be made with the next generation.  However, after a few decades the second covenant was also broken, and Yahweh departed to live among the Philistines.  The bewildered Samuel receives strange words of comfort when Yahweh says “they have rejected Me (1 Samuel 8:7).”  When David ascends to the throne, a whole new covenant, the Davidic covenant is cut, which stands until the collapse of Judea in 586 BC, when the Davidic covenant is broken.  Finally, the new covenant is given in Jesus Christ, which cannot be broken because it rests on the finished work of the perfect, sinless God-man.  We now begin to see that each of these covenants were only broken on the human side.  With Yahweh, Who is ever-faithful, all of these covenants still stand.  However, each reestablished covenant brings with it fresh information about the nature of the kingdom of God, until we see the fullest picture in the blood of the New Covenant, especially as it is ratified with the seating of Christ on David’s throne in heaven on the Day of Pentecost 33 AD.
Deborah does not serve when the covenant is clearly in full effect among men, therefore she is not using her spiritual ecstatic gifts (possibly Bath Kol) in opposition to the authority of the law, and she is not usurping male authority, which has evidently fallen to her only by the egregious default of all the males.
[60] If you have been blessed or helped by any of these meditations, please repost, share, or use any of them as you wish.  No rights are reserved.  They are designed and intended for your free participation.  They were freely received, and are freely given.  No other permission is required for their use.