God has appointed men as leaders in the home and in the church
After Adam and Eve sinned, God appointed the husband as
leader in the home: To the woman He said: ‘I will greatly multiply
your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth
children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule
over you’ (Genesis 3:16).
The leadership position of men in the church is supported by
Paul in this way: For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam
was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into
transgression (1 Timothy 2:13, 14).
Thus, God’s appointment of men as leaders is based on the
order of creation (1) and on the Fall (2), not on temporary cultural
circumstances as is sometimes claimed.
The husband is the head of his wife.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the
husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church;
and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is
subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in
everything (Ephesians 5:22-24).
The head leads the body. But this assumes that the body
listens to the head. Otherwise it is an uncoordinated body, a body
that does not function properly. But there is also feedback from the
body to the head to which the head must listen. If the head tells
the hand to pick up something hot, the hand lets the head know
Providing leadership for your wife is a fascinating challenge
and a big responsibility. There are no leaders without followers.
Thus the admonition: Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is
fitting in the Lord (Colossians 3:18). This is much easier if the
husband is obedient to the Lord’s command: So husbands ought to
love their own wives as their own bodies (Ephesians 5:28).
But what if the husband is inadequate? Likewise you wives,
be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey
the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their
wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by
fear (1 Peter 3:1, 2).
When the husband does not treat his wife and children
correctly, godly women can find themselves in extremely difficult
circumstances. In such cases, discussing the problem with fellow
Christians can be helpful.
Peter goes on to say, Husbands, likewise, dwell with them
with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker
vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your
prayers may not be hindered“ (1 Peter 3:7).
I want to encourage you men to appreciate your wives. The
wife does not have an easy position in the family.
I appreciate Rita more and more as time goes by, which
means that I did not appreciate her enough in the past! We have
been married only 48 years, but we have known each other for 63
years, since secondary school.
It is also good to express your appreciation, which is
sometimes hard for men to do. We must not be like the farmer in
Carl Sandburg’s The People, Yes who told his wife: When I think
how much you’ve meant to me all these years, it’s almost more
than I can do, to keep from saying something about it.
Let us appreciate and honor our wives.
In the family, both the husband and wife provide leadership
for the children.1
Men have been appointed by God as leaders in the church.
Jesus, the Head of the church, is a man.2 The twelve Apostles
are men. Elders and deacons are men - since they must be the
husband of one wife (1 Timothy 3:2, 12).
As leaders in the church, men have a heavy responsibility.
Paul told the elders at Ephesus: Therefore take heed to yourselves
and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you
overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with
His own blood (Acts 20:28).
An elder must hold fast the faithful word as he has been
taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and
convict those who contradict (Titus 1:9).
Elders are instructed by Peter: Shepherd the flock of God
which is among you, serving as overseers, not by constraint but
willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; not as being lords over
those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock (1 Peter
Younger Christians are to submit to their elders: Likewise you
younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be
submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God
resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’ (1 Peter 5:5).
Some restrictions are placed on women.
Women have extremely important tasks in the church.3 To
substantiate God’s appointment of men as leaders in the church,
however, certain restrictions are placed on the activity of women.
In the various passages we notice three restrictions that will
be discussed individually: (1) women are to remain silent in the
assembly, (2) they are not to teach men, and (3) they are not to
exercise authority over men.
Women must remain silent in the assembly.
Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not
permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also
says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own
husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church
(1 Corinthians 14:34, 35).
This measure applied to all congregations,4 even though there
were differences in customs among Jews, Greeks and Romans.
These passages are not difficult to understand but they are
difficult for some people to accept.
Sometimes they are flatly rejected. When a female cleric in
Holland was asked what she thought of this passage, she replied: I
wipe my feet on it.
Someone who wants to appear to follow the Scriptures must
resort to evasive, false arguments.
Some claim that ‘remain silent’ here means ‘stay calm’ and
that ‘speak’ means ‘speak noisily’, and that women may therefore
speak if they speak calmly! First, this does not fit the context since
it relates to a difference between men and women. Is it acceptable
then for men to speak noisily? Are men then not required to stay
calm? Second, anyone who has studied Greek knows that these are
the ordinary words for ‘keep silent’5 and ‘speak’6. (See the endnotes
for more information.)
Since men are to lead, women may not teach or lead when
men are present. To substantiate men’s leadership role, and to
avoid any misunderstanding, women are commanded to be silent in
This does not apply to singing together, since in that case
women are not exercising leadership or authority, but are following
the brother who is leading the congregation. It is wrong, however,
for a woman to sing a solo or to be part of a worship team that
leads the singing.
What about women who prophesied? Philip had four virgin
daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:9). Paul mentions women who
prophesied (1 Corinthians 11:4-10).
Some misuse these examples to invalidate the commandment
that women must be silent in the assembly. It is never said,
however, that women prophesied in the assembly. They who make
that claim are not joining the Scriptures together, but are tearing
the Scriptures apart! Several passages must be combined on the
basis of what is stated. They may not be brought into conflict by
adding something not stated. Since women were not permitted to
speak in the assembly, their prophesying would have been outside
Women are not permitted to teach men.
Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not
permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be
in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not
deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression (1
This prohibition underpins the leadership role God has
assigned to men. Also outside the assembly, a woman is not to
serve as a teacher of men. This restriction is not violated when a
woman teaches women or children.
If women are allowed to ask questions and make comments in
a mixed Bible study that is not part of the assembly, the study itself
must still be led by a man.
This certainly does not mean that a man may never learn
something from a woman! Apollos is an example of this. Now a
certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man
and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had been
instructed in the ways of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he
spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew
only the baptism of John. So he began to speak boldly in the
synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him
aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately (Acts
Notice that they took him aside and notice that they
explained the way of God to him more accurately. These
expressions depict a conversational situation.
This passage is sometimes misapplied to appoint a woman, or
a man and woman together, to lead a mixed Bible class. In the case
of Apollos, however, there was not a teacher-student relationship.
The example of Aquila and Priscilla does show that a Christian
couple may invite a preacher into their home and explain the way
of the Lord to him more accurately! Many preachers have benefited
from such help!
Older women teach younger women. The older women
likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanders, not given
to much wine, teachers of good things - that they admonish the
young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be
discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own
husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed (Titus
Women may not exercise authority over men.
And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority
over a man (1 Timothy 2:12).
Again, this restriction is simply a consequence of God’s
appointment of men to lead the church. Leadership is not limited to
the assembly. Just as a woman may not teach men, neither may
she lead men. For this reason, prayers are led by men in a mixed
Bible study, although women join in the discussion.
Some try to justify women participating in chain prayers
(where they go around the room and everyone says a prayer) by
claiming that each one is just saying his own private prayer, and is
not leading the others. According to Jesus, however, private
prayers should be said in private (Matthew 6:6).
According to Paul, group prayers should be understandable, so
amen can be said afterwards (1 Corinthians 14:15, 16). The
thoughts of the group are being led by the one saying the prayer.
Thus, outside the assembly as well, the prayers in a mixed group
must be led by men.
When a church has elders, decisions are of course made by the
elders who are men. When a church does not have elders, since
women are not to exercise authority over men, decisions must be
made by the men of the congregation. Good leaders discuss
decisions beforehand with those being led, which includes getting
feedback from women as well as men. Only then can informed
decisions be made.
Man’s leadership is compared to Christ’s leadership.
This applies both in the home and in the church.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord
To the church at Corinth, where some women were rebellious,
Paul wrote: But I want you to know that the head of every man is
Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God
(1 Corinthians 11:3).
Man’s leadership does not mean that he may be a tyrant. He
himself is under the authority of Christ. His leadership must agree
with the word of God. He has no right to contradict God’s word or to
exercise authority that belongs to the Scriptures. In such a case
Peter’s explanation to the Jewish leaders would apply: We ought to
obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).
Let us respect God’s appointments.
God has appointed the husband as head of the wife, and men
as leaders in the church. As a consequence, women are not to
teach men, are not to exercise authority over men, and are not to
speak in the assembly. Decisions for the church are made either by
the elders or, if there are none, by the men of the congregation.
God has appointed men as leaders in the home and in the church.
The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc.,
Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.
Published in The Old Paths Archive