Thursday, May 31, 2012


Several years ago I did a post with this title and then talked of some things that were of little consequence in the big picture to anyone except me. I'm going to revisit that post title with something important to no one but me again. But what else is a blog for except to communicate some personal stuff sometimes. Here's some of my personal stuff.

William Shakespeare wrote a comedy around 1600 a.d. [First performed in 1598-99]  He used a title with a meaning that has been debated for years. He entitled it Much Ado About Nothing. Some say, as did George Bernard Shaw, that Shakespeare used short, casual titles for his comedies as a marketing tool for devaluing them to the tastes of the low-brow portion of the general public. In other words, it was a money making tool to sell to the multitudes.

I'm not sure of Shakespeare's intention in using that title for this play but it has come to mean "a lot said about things of little consequence." That's the meaning I'm giving it for this particular post. "Much ado about nothing! I'm sure it may be nothing to some but it's my nothing and so I will make much ado about it.

I'm now nearly 72 years of age. [Will be as of July 19th 2012]  Honestly, I've had a sense of living on borrowed time for the past nearly thirty years. This has been since having triple by-pass surgery in 1986 and living through it when a sister, just older, a dad and his five brothers, my uncles, all died in their forties and fifties from the very thing for which I had surgery. It seemed to me back in 1986 that I was given an extension of life.

I do know, of course, that death for any Christian is an appointment thing. And I know that Jesus has to insert the key to 'unlock death' for any believer to die. [How this meshes with accidents and suicides I'll leave for getting some answers post-time in eternity.] Paul said as much in 1 Thess. 4:13 where he was addressing, "Those who are asleep [have died] "in Jesus," or as the Greek word 'dia' means, "Through the agency of Jesus." Paul is saying that death for a believer is like a lock for which only Jesus has the Key. He has to unlock death for a Christian or it won't come. When He does, it will. It's as simple as that. Father will explain how it all fits later I'm confident.

But from the human side, which is what I'm addressing here, I've had a sense of living on borrowed time since that long ago surgery because I am after all__human.

Add to that the fact that I've lived with the woman of my dreams for fifty-three years now and we've both begun to realize we're losing friends and family to death at an accelerated rate because of our age and are, consequently, more aware of our own mortality than ever before, and you have cause for my contemplation about death.

By the way, this girl of my dreams with whom I live, has a little bit of a strange quirk. She doesn't like surprises. She doesn't even like making decisions spontaneously. She likes to contemplate the consequences and weigh the options.  Me? I love things spontaneous. I love surprises. Take away my spontaneity and you will rob me of half the joy in my life. As I said...she's weird.  [I think anyone who isn't like me is a bit weird :)]

So, last Monday, Memorial day, while floating on our pool-chairs and talking, I asked her what was the first thing she would do if, say, I died on June 1st. I felt this might help to eliminate any pressured decisions were any to ever be needed. She postulated that I, in fact, was the one a bit weird. But we ended up talking about a list of things to do if one or the other of us were to die.

As you can imagine, a lot of OTHER things came to light as well.

Things like the fact that we both have personal issues with the typical memorial service of our day. Even with many so-called christian memorial services. You may agree with Mary about my weirdness [though she thinks much the same way] when you hear what I said about my wishes concerning a memorial service. I want Mary to be in charge of that service entirely. This is basically because she is the least pretentous person I know and knows me better than anyone else on this earth. Put together, that spells REAL. I will admit this might be a bit of a last ditch effort on my part at making all extreme Fundmentalists uncomfortable [a woman in charge?] with me in my death as they have been with me in my life. But that's a minor point in it all I assure you.

I also want no message at all by a preacher. I've nothing against preachers being one myself, I simply want our four kids to speak, if they will and can, and anyone else Mary chooses. The singing will feature some anniversary songs I've put on tape for Mary over the years which includes some fifties, some Merle Haggard love songs, Lee Greenwood love songs, [Mary swoons at his voice] and my favorite gospel and praise choruses. I've used music of every genre to celebrate my life in Christ and being in love with that dream woman, so why not at my home going!!

You can see as we talked we were reminded anew that, while we would grieve and hurt were the other to die, we would not be paralyzed by grief because our marriage is NOT the source of life for us. He is that. Our marriage has been a great RESOURCE for making life better, but we both agree He is our source. So we will draw from Him any strength needed, depending on which one goes first, and celebrate the one gone in music, words, and with people. A reception will follow for all to enjoy the moment and one another because the burial will have already been accompished that morning with the family only present.

As I write this I'm impressed again with what we've decided. I like it. It's us! But it will have to wait. That key has not been inserted into the lock of death__for me or her__as of yet, so we'll just put our plans in a folder for later, much later perhaps, who knows.

I'm aware some people think death is a not a thing to joke about. But I tend to lighten moments that are naturally heavy__with humor. It may be an escape avenue or a pop off valve, but that's part of the "weird" in me.

Besides, I'm not sure but what it is good for us to be reminded that life is a journey through stages and included in that journey is this stage called death. So like Shakespeare, I want to give some comedy to that stage. When my death comes, and it will if Jesus tarries, I want it to be a smiling, laughing, shouting time to some degree. Much ado about nothing. I'll sure be celebrating THERE, so why should those who are HERE not celebrate with me?

Paul B.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


MAY 28th 1959/MAY 28th 2012 

Some days you just don't forget. Fifty-three years ago today is one of those. It was hot, humid, and the air conditioning at the First Baptist Church in Edmond Oklahoma had gone out. On top of that, all ten siblings of the bride were in the wedding. I waited at the front so long I needed to shave again. I thought the event would never transpire.

After six hours of waiting, [ministerially speaking] she came in. One look and I knew she was worth the agony of de-wait. I can still see her start down the aisle. I had sung a very special song to her many times in the past. [This was when music WAS really music.] It was now happening.

First a boy and a girl meet each other
Then they sit down to talk for awhile
In your heart you want her for a lover
While each step draws you closer to the aisle

You may start with a simple conversation
Like darling please put me on trial
Then you'll know in your heart she is just for you
While each step draws you closer to the aisle

Then you put a ring on her finger
And the tears start flowing about
In your heart you'll now she is just for you
While each step draws you closer to the aisle

The preacher did his part. [He was her dad] He asked "do you?" We both said "I do." He said "you are." And we were married at the ripe old age of 17 [her] and 18. [Me]. I kissed her and was perspiring so badly [the heat you know] I slid off her lips. Fifty-three years later___today-May 28th___I'm still kissing her but not sliding off as I once did. It's created a few problems across the years. Four children, thirteen grandchildren and three great-grand children to name a few. And, as the country song says "If I had it to do all over__I'd do it all over again." Those are the kind of problems you wouldn't miss for the world.

Now, you're probably wondering what could have possessed Mary to do it and to stay with me for so long. She wasn't too sure the night before the wedding. She got cold feet. She doubted slightly. I fixed that. I reminded her It was God's will. This was back in the days when I knew God's will for everyone if they would just listen to me. Some did some didn't. She did. I'm glad. I think she is too.

But to celebrate this day seriously, I do need to speak seriously for a moment. [Though Mary and I have learned to not take anything too seriously these days.] What does go into a marriage enabling it to last for fifty-three years?

Simple answer? Only the Grace of God and the reality of Christ as our life is the bottom-line, but to break it down into bite size portions I would say......

Acceptance___We're learning to accept each other where we are, as we are, with no demands for change made by the other without seeing that change has to happen both ways. [And it does need to happen.]

Respect___We're learning to appreciate each other as individuals NOT defined by the other. Funny how the Bible DOESN'T teach the "two shall become one." When someone says that to us, Mary always asks a wise question of them..."which one?" It does teach the "two shall become one flesh." But that's the kissing part. It kind of seals the union of the two completely. Now two different, whole, unique, individuals are in a life long covenant and seal it with....that kiss. [And a lot more if you get my drift.]

Commitment___We're learning to be genuinely committed to the life we have in Christ by the Grace of God and___ a willingness to change___ as we continue to grow in every way. [Mentioned above.] You do have the chance you know [if you stick around with each other long enough] to grow up, grow older, wiser, more gracious, more forgiving and all those other christian things that are really just His Life being experienced.

In fact, the key, if there is really just one, may be in the second and third words in each of the preceding paragraphs___"We're learning." If that ever stops you're dead in the water and the marriage will start leaking and probably sink. We've had some leaks,  we've had to fix them, and then we found some more. But the Grace of God is a gorilla of a glue.

That's the only way Mary's done it. Me? I've been perfect for the past thirty or forty years or so. :)

The truth really is Mary is that gorilla glue [Grace] embodied in a woman. Were that not a fact, fifty-three years would have never happened. My true thoughts of her are still those thoughts I had when I saw her start down that aisle a long time ago. The line of another song says what those thoughts were and still are today..."She's close enough to perfect for me."

Happy anniversary Mary. Thank you for the best years of my life.


Thursday, May 24, 2012


In 1 Timothy 2:12  Paul used a word for “authority” [authenteo]  that is found no where else in scripture. Not even in the Septuagint. The word traditionally has been translated with the idea that women are to “not usurp authority over the man,” meaning she has her place and it's never over a man. That view assumes that the very act of a woman teaching a man is inherently a wrongful act that violates male headship.  But contrary to that, Jesus taught us that in His kingdom “authority”__who’s in charge __is to be a complete non-issue between believers. Servant hood is our issue. (Matt.20:24-28; 23:11; Mark 9:34; Luke 9:46; 22:24)

Add to that the fact that there is no command (imperative) from Paul in 1 Timothy 2:12 either, and you have a case for questioning the previously mentioned traditional interpretation entirely. The wording in the King James Version, “I suffer not a woman,” can certainly sound like a command, but it isn’t. Instead, it is in the simple present tense, “I am not now permitting a [this] woman…" This COULD imply a shift in Paul’s strategy because of the problems that existed in Ephesus which is, I think, the case entirely.

Paul addressed women in vs 9-10 [plural] as to modesty and decorum but switches to the singular in vs 12-15 to talk about a SPECIFIC woman and her husband. He is saying in the language used when properly translated, ”I do not in this instance allow [suffer[ this woman [wife] to take charge over her man [husband] in an unseemly [my toned down word for authority] manner."  [Woman and man are singular and when used together usually mean a husband and wife.]   

"Authenteo"  will only be found to be a street word with even some form of sexual overtones to it describing using sex as a tool for control.  So Paul, under inspiration, is saying to this church's pastor [Timothy] who had a church with some women saved out of the very religions that used such tactics and was facing one specific couple, in particular, as she sought, using that method, to domineer her husband into a false belief, enough is enough. [Whew] 

Old patterns don’t die easily even after you become a believer and this one women seems to be doing exactly that to her husband in the church in Ephesus and Paul is stopping it.

Jon Zens, who has a masterful exegetical work on this passage in his new book entitled "What's With Paul And Women," [you can get it on Amazon]  says this..."If there is a divine law that women-teaching-men is sinful, then there can be no exceptions.  But there is no concern in this regard expressed in Scripture, and there are clearly cases where women taught men.  In Romans 12:6-7 where Paul is listing some gifts, he mentions “prophesying” and “teaching.” There are no sexual restrictions here – both men and women can be involved is such activities. There is nothing inherently evil in women-teaching-men, but it is a problem when women teach error, or teach with a view to dominating men.  Of course, the same concerns hold true if males teach error or teach with the goal of dominating others!

Good advice for all women AND men of all ages in church life, it would seem to me, but certainly a good word for pastor Timothy and the church in Ephesus with this couple having this major problem. 

Finally, a brief word about the ever present question concerning Genesis 2:20 where the woman is said to be man's "help meet". [KJV]  The fact that Eve was created as Adam's "suitable helper" does not establish a woman as lesser at all. In English the word sometimes is used that way, but it certainly isn't in the original Hebrew. God said she is to be a man's "ezer" [Hebrew] which is a word used for God Himself in relation to man, Israel, the nations, you name it. If it did mean "less than" God is in trouble since He is that to so many. No, the word means "One essential to" and is perfectly legitimate to be used for a woman's place to a man. Essential! 

I do believe God's original intention for the male/female relationship was clearly established in Genesis 1 where “He said to “them” that "they" were to have dominion and for “them” to multiply and for “them” to care for the garden. It looks to me to be at least a partnership going on from the very beginning. Of course, the fall messed it up and both THEN tried to “be in charge.” She tried by “desiring her husband” [the meaning is not a Godly thing but one of taking charge] and he tried to “rule over her." [No Godliness here either as it means as a despot.] 

What God said in His address to them AFTER the fall seemed to me to be a description of the result of their sin rather than a prescription for the behavior He expected. So both are pretty well messed up by now in this authority thing. 

But hang on, God straightened all that up in Ephesians 5:21 [New Covenant remember] where all were told to submit/serve one another and to serve one another in the power of the Spirit as they are walking in Him. [We've seen this in a previous post.] 

The wife by CHOOSING to serve her husband. Hupo-tasso was used in the middle voice which says it was from inside her and not because of an outside requirement. Hupo-akuio would have said that. And the husband CHOOSING to love her as his own body was his way of serving her. 

A man choosing to love is not less submissive than a woman choosing to serve.  It's just the New Covenant way of correcting the "Whose the boss" failure and making it a non-issue. We all know the Lord Jesus is the boss. So all Christians are servants to Him and to one another. 

One final thought about this "woman being created second" question. I never had seen how man being created first and woman coming from man would set up an authority thing. No doubt he was and she did, but, if whose created first is a principle for authority then the animals and birds should rule man. Of course the women in Ephesus [coming out of the mystery religions of Ephesus] had believed the woman was created first by their gods and was far superior to any male. So when Paul addressed who was created first I believe he was correcting heresy of the mystery religions again. Also remember that since that original creation moment, every MAN has come from a woman. Not a lot of bragging room there. 

Now if we could just get believers to get as straight on men not being superior either just because they were created first things wouldn't that be refreshing! Different? Yes! Superior? No. In New Covenant theology the Spirit is the gifter, decider, authority, power, and sender of all gifts and ministry to all believers regardless of race, gender, or age.

This is my final post on the scriptures that are a sort of "map" to how authority is a non-issue in male female relationships in Kingdom living.  My posts have been too brief, insufficient, and too few, but they are mine. For a couple of references that I've found an immeasurable help let me tell you about...

Jon Zens____What's With Paul And Women?
Gilbert Bilezikian___Beyond Sex Role
Cheryl Schatz DVD Series Women in Ministry: Silenced or Free.
[Check Cheryl's series out on youtube]

My hope is you'll study and come to some conclusion for yourself on this major issue about Kingdom people. 

Paul B.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


I'm going to take a mini-break from the series I'm doing and address something other than the "Maps" posts today. 

Every Christian ultimately finds themselves at one time or another facing some issues of right and wrong or difficult choices [ethics or behavior] that are not clearly addressed in scripture. Some things are straight-forward in what is said about them, it is true But for some issues the right or wrong or the who or what of them is not clear at all. Because of this, three categories have been developed by people who do such things [theologians/philosophers perhaps]  that help clarify the differences in some things as to the right or wrong of them for believers. I've found these categories helpful in my own journey.

Issues clearly addressed by scripture are classified as "Black and white." No doubt about adultery, stealing, lying, and a ton of other things being wrong. It doesn't make EVERYTHING about these issues clear, but in principle, they are black and white. For instance, stealing is wrong if for no other reason than the Law of Moses says so. [Exodus 20:15]  But the New Covenant declares for the Church that we are to"steal no more."  [Ephesians 4:28]  No one debates that stealing a million dollars from a bank is wrong. By the same principle, stealing an apple from a fruit stand is wrong also. We might argue over the punishment being different for the two things, but that is arguing over the consequence of an action, not the principle. Stealing of either remains a wrong thing to do. That's easy enough.

Then there are those Issues that are cultural instead of universal in application [a post within itself]  or maybe are just of a personal nature and can only be classified as "Gray areas." These would be things like the use of wine, greeting with a holy kiss, or even whether someone serves their country on the battle field in a time of war. When scripture isn't clear about such matters, and they are NOT all that clear, it usually helps us if we're willing to evaluate motives in the doing of those kinds of things. Gray issues also can prompt us to dig deeper into God's word to find applicable principles that might help us make an informed decision rooted in faith. But that can be a bit precarious at best and that's why being careful to not lift a verse out of context to get a word of direction about matters is a must. If the scriptures are not clear, however, as to yes or no in the doing of something, the WHY I would do or not do that thing can be a helpful guide since WHATEVER we do, we are to do it as unto the Lord. An example....

Several years ago I came to see something of an acceptance of my dad. He was an unbeliever most of his life and was a smoker, yet he nonetheless honored our home by not smoking in it...ever.  He would go out into the back yard and sit alone...smoking. That was alright. What wasn't alright was my attitude about him and his smoking. Smoking is not a right or wrong thing textually since the scripture is silent. Medical arguments, health, our body being a Temple, [though I wouldn't press this if one tends to over eat]  and other logical reasons__ NOT TO__ may abound. But my disdain of him because he did smoke was wrong regardless. I didn't say it, but he was no dummy. He knew of my disdain. I reeked of it. I've now come to see that whole thing was a gray area because, as I said, the scriptures are silent about it. He died in 1971.

One day, I did what I know is a peculiar thing. By myself, I fired up a cigar, outside on my screen-in porch, in repentance of my disdain and in honor of my dad, as I pictured him sitting with me. He died in 1971 as I said, and it was now 1998, but here I was, me and a cigar. I even began to sing "Praise God from whom all blessings flow." [What a blessing the memory of my dad and a moment like this was to me.] I began to weep and pray a prayer of rejoicing. 

Now someone may question whether it's OK or not for a Christian to smoke an occasional cigar, but my "why" in doing it that day was the key for me.  [I'm not talking about being addicted to nicotine, that crosses a clear line, at least it seems to me, as does being addicted to food or sex or religion.]   By the way, my dad came to know the Lord a couple of years before he died in 1971, so I'll see him again one day which is pleasing to me beyond words. I still celebrate him being my dad on occasion___if you get my drift. Forgive the simplistic nature of the illustration but it was real for me.

Then there are those issues which just simply are not addressed by scripture and which are left to personal judgement completely. Things like whether to go to this college or that college, take this job or that job. These are areas that those who decided such things called the ADIAPHORON issues. Adiaphoron, as an adjective meaning neutral, indifferent, neither right nor wrong in essence. God's word does not speak to the "how"  to fulfill the will of God in specific adiaphorons such as these.  Who to marry, [though "in the Lord" is a clear directive] the college we should attend, the local church we are to attend...or not attend... are things that are adiaphoron in nature. These things are lived out within our freedom in Christ. He doesn't have a magic will either which we are to fear missing, as if to miss it would cause us to miss God's best for us. 

So there is freedom for us to choose the way in which we follow a direction but we're to always reflect our faith in Him. That freedom is lived out in confidence concerning His Providence, so, in this way, nothing should really ever be thought of as unimportant or neutral. We ARE free to simply choose as we wish with everything being done for His Glory. Then we can look back one day and see how His will was brought about even in our moments of freedom and say, "Boy do I see His Providence in that." So this can be a helpful category as well and there you have it in a nut-shell, IMHO. 

Live life knowing the boundaries of the black and whites in the law of Christ, the motives of the grays and the freedom we have in the adiaphorons. It won't answer everything that's a mystery, but it will give order and clarity to our responsibility and freedom in being a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ in His Kingdom while living in this foreign land.

The things black and white___Obey
The things gray____________Examine motive
The things neutral__________Freedom to choose

All things for His Glory________Objective in life 

Not a bad philosophy of life from my perspective.

Paul B.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012


We've established that Paul is NOT talking about authority in this passage. [See last post.] The only way anyone can inject authority here is by reading it into the word "head." But that's a modern meaning to that word and doesn't adequately reveal the intention of Paul's words at all. Had Paul intended "authority" as we moderns see present in the word "head," or if he had meant the "boss" or the one "in charge," he could have easily said that with the Greek word "arche." [Pronounced ar-Kay] Actually it was a popular word that was used to describe two things. One___it meant "importance" or "power." We see this when it js a prefix to our words like "archangel" or "archbishop." Even someone being your "archenemy" would show it. That's "head" meaning first in importance or power. But, second, it meant "beginnings" or "point of origin." This would be seen in words like "archives" or "archetype." We could also use "head" in this way by saying "headwaters" of a river or the "beginnings" of a river like the Mississippi river.

But there was in Paul's day a second Greek word which is also translated "head." That word is "Kephale." [Pronounced Kef-a-lay]  It is a word which, of course, means a "body part," but also can mean "foremost"in terms of position.  "Kephale" can also mean "source" like the "headwaters" as seen by Chrysostom using it that way in some of his writings. Yet, and this is important, it is NEVER USED to mean "boss" or "leader" in the "authority" sense.

So, what does "head" mean here in Ephesians 5:23 if not "boss?" It means the guy who is NOT a general of a commanding officer, but perhaps it's referring to the husband as a "point-man" [out in front] who is there to help others who are depending on him. But, perhaps, it was intended to refer to the source or beginnings of it all as Christ certainly is that for the Church and the man was that seeing the woman was taken from the man. [I personally lean toward the latter.] But it is NEVER used as one with a "superior rank" as in" head of a family or clan" by ANYONE in scripture or other Greek writings. Authority is NOT the intended subject here at all.

That's technical enough I would think. I've read tons on this text from scholars all the way from Laurie Fascullo, who would hesitate to call herself a scholar I'm thinking, [but I do] to Grudem, with scores of people in between, and have come away with my opinion on the whole thing.  So, my opinion is, if Paul had intended to use "head" to show the man was the "boss," he would never have used "kephale" at all. He would have used "arche." But he was very INTENTIONAL in not doing so. Why? Because he was saying something in a different ballpark altogether. So I'll simply state what that ballpark is that Paul was addressing as the finishing touches on this post. Mutuality of serving and meeting the needs of others is the clear subject in this passage when we are faithful to the text itself.

I'm convinced from my personal research on this passage that Paul was writing to elevate women to equal status with men in the same fashion that Jesus did in His ministry. Both men and women are called to serve each other in marriage and the man's way of doing that is by seeing himself, who was originally the source/beginnings from which woman was taken..remember the rib thing, serving his wife, as Jesus, who was the source/beginnings of the Church and loves her sacrificially. [We love Him because He FIRST loved us.]

It's profound to me that the word for wives serving [hupotassomenoi in verse 21] and the word for men loving [agapate in verse 25] have BASICALLY the same emphasis. To "look to the needs and concerns of the other." Serve and love. In simple terms biblically, "The wife serving is not something other than loving and the husband's loving is not something other than serving." So it is a mutuality of shared serving/loving that is at issue here for Paul. They are almost synonyms. In Jewish writings, a favorite technique was using synonyms in parallel form. You see this in the Psalms often.

Ps. 32:1 says..."Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. [Forgiven/covered]
Ps. 24:1 says..."The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein."

There is to be a mutuality in marriage according to Paul. The husband is no more to autonomously decide issues that face the family than the woman is to autonomously conceive the children that are born into a family.  

Neither loses themselves but willingly gives themselves for the other. This means a woman's serving/submission to a husband is never to be grounds for her experiencing a loss of her individual person in terms of thoughts, feelings, or even choices___ which would be more akin to a cult than to biblical Christianity___ just so___ a man's love/serving of his wife is to never lose the quality of Christ's love for the Church which was an unassuming kind that never demanded His own way. He love was kind, neither arrogant nor rude, and was voluntarily given___ as is the wife's submission/service to be.  

You talk about a new concept or idea and especially to those Ephesian Christians. Their whole culture was patriarchal and male-oriented. [Male-authority] The men in that society ran things whether it was the Jewish element or the Greek or Roman. Women seldom challenged it either. They had no individual or collective power to do so. 

But the gospel did challenge that. So that in Christ there is neither male nor female and here Paul is showing what that looks like in a serving way which flew in the face of the whole of that society. What's unbelievable to me is that some Christians try to use this very passage to continue to subject and control women as chattel property of the men. But to do THAT they have to READ INTO IT an authority that Paul was NOT intending.

By the way, while I'm in Paul the Apostle's ballpark, let me say also that the husband is not accountable for the spirituality of his wife either. Paul addressed that kind of false thinking when he said to the Roman Christians.."Every person will give account of himself to God." [Romans 14:12] He didn't say except for those that are married either. The man is never called upon in scripture to be an intermediary between his family and God or his wife and God, or anyone else for that matter. There is only one Intermediary [Prophet, Highpriest, and King] in the New Covenant and His name is Jesus, not the name of some one's husband.

As I said, it is tragic that the very passage where Paul brings to the early Church a unity and mutual servant hood in both the Church and the home has become the very passage that today's culture, both in and out of the Church, use to perpetuate a religious and cultural patriarchalism that Paul had learned through the Holy Spirit to despise and correct with Kingdom concepts.

Someone says..."But what about 1 Corinthians 11:3?"  We'll get to it eventually, but I promise you, since Paul wrote the first Corinthian letter from Ephesus where Paul was at the time, [57 AD]  he would neither mean anything different nor contradict anything he had already said to the Ephesians and now would say again in his letter to them now. [62 AD]

More on our scriptural map to male and female equality next time.

Paul B. 

Thursday, May 03, 2012


Ultimately, each one of us is responsible to find the meaning of the sacred text of scripture as best we can. This should be done while always bearing in mind a couple of important guidelines. One is that it takes the Holy Spirit to come to ANY true understanding of that text. The second is that, with all our study, prayer, and searching for real meaning, we are not infallible in EITHER our research OR our ability to hear clearly from the Spirit. That is not discounting His ability to show us, but it is recognizing our fallibility in being willing to always hear what the Spirit of God says to us about it.

History shows us the value of being willing to question and even say what our disagreement is with what has traditionally been held as truth on some issues. Luther and his disagreement with the Roman Church over the meaning of scripture, Wesley, with his disagreement with the Anglican Church, and finally Benjamin Keach, the Baptist pastor who appeared before Lord Chief Justice Hyde and defend his views against infant baptism which went against the Church of England, all attest to that fact.

Real openness takes a "The bible means what it means" mentality, instead of the far too easily said, "The bible means what it says," mentality. Since knowing only what has been taught us without examining it is never healthy, it is the search for the "meaning" of scripture that can drive us on to examine, study, interpret, and even change where we might need to in our understanding.

Notice I've made no mention of "culture" on either side. I'll grant that those who disagree with me believe they understand the bible and believe they are not following their culture. Although it would be impossible, perhaps, for anyone to be completely free from some kind of cultural influence when interpreting scripture, I would ask for the same respect from the other side about a sincere effort on my part regarding my conclusions. I try to deal with the text with as little bias as possible culturally also.

I am now going to deal with one of several things I believe the Spirit is showing me about certain texts teeming with truths [hence the title] that I had never troubled myself to re-examine___until the last few years. My subject is one of many I hope to eventually examine on this blog. But that will take any number of posts and some time. This first issue does, however, show why I fall closer to what we've looked at as the "Egalitarian" idea in theology. Our topic is.....

MUTUAL SUBMISSION______[Ephesians 5:17-22]

This is a biggy. I was told early on in my life and ministry that this Ephesians passage CLEARLY shows that the man is the "boss" over the wife like Jesus is the "boss" over the Church. That's clear [they said] because the woman is told to submit to him, but he is not told to do likewise. That idea was reinforced with the one other passage that mentioned the "head" thing as well. [1 Corinthians 11:3] It seemed to be the only way it could be taken. So I lived it and I preached it. The man is "head meaning boss" over the woman and family, Ephesians 5 says so! That's enough for me!

Then one day I began to search this text anew for myself. What was said wasn't as clear as I'd been told. In fact I've begun to think Paul would be a bit ticked at the words we put in his mouth instead of finding out what he really meant. I began to see he was talking about something other than "authority"ALTOGETHER. It was, in fact, MUTUAL SUBMISSION he was speaking of and without seeing this, the rest of the chapter will NEVER be correctly understood. I've come to now believe mutual serving/submission is the whole key to correctly understanding those very few passages that lend themselves to the "boss" idea. We'll look at them all eventually, as I said.

In this Ephesians text I found that there is only ONE imperative [command] in the whole passage. That is found in Ephesians 5:18. Don't be drunk but do be filled with the Spirit. [Paraphrased] OK! Then what are verses 19-21 saying if they are not commands? They are simply two present active participles and one present passive participle that all show the RESULTS of obeying the command to be filled with the Spirit. Verse 19 shows that a Spirit-filled person will be [notice 'be' not 'do'] joyful as evidenced by singing and making melody in their heart is how it's said. Verse 20 shows that a Spirit-filled person will be [there it is again..'be' not 'do'] grateful as evidenced by giving thanks in everything is how it is said. Verse 21 shows that a Spirit-filled person will be a servant. But here it changes to a present middle participle because it is showing it is a voluntary heart issue of serving or submission that is being described. [The middle voice means it comes from the heart [inside[ and not because it is commanded. [Outside]] Being joyful, grateful and a servant to one another. That's real Christianity produced by the Holy Spirit.

Whatever else a Christian looks like, they look like that. Paul is drawing on the truth spoken by Jesus that says "He that is greatest is servant of all" and while the Gentiles seek to "boss" others, it is not to be that way among Christians. This is the backdrop and context that all else is said here. This is what the language of Paul means here.

 It is only then that Paul begins to show how Spirit-filled living shows up in marriage and family life. Verse 21 has already shown it will be by being a servant "one to another." By the way, that 21st verse can't be restricted by making it refer JUST to the Church. The text doesn't say just the church is being talked about here at all. That's eisegesis, reading something into the text instead of exegesis, drawing something out of the text. Besides, the New Testament doesn't address the family with a clear cut separation from the local church anyway since they met in family units culturally. ALL of Ephesians is written to the Church and any "one another" statement in that passage applies to husbands and wives and the whole of the family. It is speaking of a "mutual submission/serving" that is supposed to show up in the marriage and family [as per the rest of the chapter] as it does in ALL believers.

So ...Paul begins by saying in verse 22 "Wives to your own husbands just as you do the Lord. Notice, the word 'Submit" doesn't appear in the verse as the KJV shows it to be. The better translations recognize this and don't have it there. In other words, Spirit-filled wives will have a heart for serving as indicated by verse 21 and it will be ESPECIALLY toward their own husbands in a Christ-like manner is what is meant in verse 22. [By the way, this word "submit" is totally different than the one about children which follows in 6:1.]

Now here is what I found NEW and textually TRUE in a way I'd not before seen. This is critical. See this and the rest of what is meant will come through. There is nothing about AUTHORITY here at all. Serving isn't COMMANDED in the text BECAUSE she's a woman. It's because the Spirit always brings about a servant's heart that serves others and THAT'S what is being addressed here. Whether it's a wife or, as we'll see later, a husband or any Christian.

Paul doesn't use either of two perfectly good and understood Greek words for "authority" here. He's not talking about authority! Why should he! In fact, his use of "Head," as a metaphor, doesn't mean "authority" either as I'll eventually show. If "head" is understood correctly in this passage it WON'T BE SEEN as referencing authority at all. In fact, Paul had already shown the "authority" of Christ in Ephesians 1:22 where he says, because of the resurrection, Christ has had, metaphorically speaking, all THINGS PUT UNDER HIS FEET." That speaks of His authority. It is also said of Him in 1:22 that He has become the "Head" of the Church. But that's not speaking of His authority. Being under His feet speaks of that. Being the "Head" of the Church is referencing something else entirely as we will see later. I can't say it too strongly. AUTHORITY is NOT the reason serving or submitting is spoken of here. It is the result of being Spirit-filled that men AND women mutually serve one another. Later [v25] a man's serving is called "love your wives as Christ loved the Church." But love is not less serving than submission. It is simply a description of the man's way of serving his wife. it's all about serving and NONE about AUTHORITY.

In fact, the ONLY place in the New Testament where the Greek word for "authority" is used in reference to marriage and as something between a husband and wife is in 1 Corinthians 7 where it says a woman DOES NOT have "authority" over her own body in regards to sex in marriage [mutually abstaining] and a man DOES NOT have "authority" over his own body in regards to sex [mutually abstaining] in marriage. So the ONLY place where "authority" is actually mentioned between a husband and wife in the entire bible is a place where it says the other has it. So much for the man being "boss" over everything. He's not even "boss" over his own body in a marriage. But the woman isn't "boss" either.

The point is both are to be serving "one another" [mutual serving/submission] as stated in Eph. 5:21, because Jesus is "Boss"." [Lord] Fortunately, for both men and women, there is neither a command for the wife to unilaterally submit nor a command for the husband to make certain she does submit to him or anyone else for that matter. It's a heart issue for both. Let's get off this "boss" thing. There is only one "boss" for any Christian and his name isn't________. It's Jesus! But, someone says, there HAS to be SOMEONE in charge in a marriage. There is. "Be not drunk with wine wherein is excess, but do be filled-with the Spirit." In joy and gratitude we will serve one another in the power of the Spirit and things will happen relationally as they should. Try it and see.

Well, then what does "head" mean if it doesn't mean "boss?" Next time we'll see.

Paul B.