Women’s Sphere and Service

The Studies on New Testament Church Principles “by Mr. A. G. Clarke are brought to a close by explanations of some

MISUNDERSTOOD PASSAGES OF SCRIPTURE

It would appear well to consider some of the passages advanced in support of the public ministry of Christian women by those who wish to introduce this unscriptural practice.

(1) 1 Cor. 14. 84, 85. The prohibition here is said to refer tochattering" in the assembly gatherings.The Greek verb used occurs frequently in the N.T. but never in the sense of “ to chatter.” In this very chapter it appears 24 times, 22 times clearly relating to ministry. Let the student attempt to substitute the word “ chatter “ in any of these and he will immediately perceive the resulting absurdity, verse 29, for instance ! Besides, would not the chattering of men be equally reprehensible ? Why the restriction upon sisters only ?

(2) Acts 21. 0, 10 incidentally mentions that the four daughters of Philip the evangelist had the prophetic gift. There are no prophets now (see Lesson 9), so that in any case this affords no example for the present. The only women claiming the prophetic gift in modern limes have been mostly connected with error cults, like Mrs. Baker Eddy of “Christian Science,” Mrs. Ellen White of “ Seventh-Day Adventism," and not a few others. Note that Philip’s daughters are not said to have exercised their gift in public. Then observe that when a prophetic message is to be delivered concerning Paul, the Lord sends His servant Agabus all the way from Judaeainstead of using Philip’s daughters, who were already on the spot.Surely this is significant enough I

(3)Phil. 4. 8. Euodias and Syntyche laboured with Paul in the gospel, but it is unwarrantable assumption to suggest that they preached publicly. As we have seen, there are many ways in which sisters can co-operate in the Lord’s work, apart altogether from speaking.

(4)Jn. 4. 28-30, 42. Three things must be noted here ; (a) The Samaritan woman’s audience was “ the men," i.e. those with whom she was acquainted and possibly had had unholy relations, hence must have been of a private nature ; (b) hers was a simple testimony, not a public proclamation, 39 ; (c) she issued an invita-tion, “ come," a suggestive form of service for Christian sisters today.

(5)Acts 1. 14. It is not to be inferred that the women prayed audibly.The order of the words indicates simply that they were

present. Had the statement been, “ These all, with the women. continued steadfastly in prayer," there would be some measure of ambiguity.As it is, the meaning is clear.

(6) Judg 4. 4-9, Advocates of women’s public ministry must be hard put to it when they turn to such an O.T. passage ! There is no inconsistency even here, but rather a warning example. Rulers had ceased in Israel (5. 7), showing that all was in confusion in the nation instead of divine order. Deborah took over the civil rule for lack of a man willing and able to do it. Barak was the military leader, but so weak and fearful that when an emergency arose he called upon Deborah to share the post of danger with him despite her warning (v. 9). The incident shows utter weakness and failure among God’s people. It was not an accession of new power and spirituality, Brethren who would introduce the public ministry of sisters thereby expose Barak-like qualities and augment sad failure in the church.Heb. 11. 32 mentions Barak not Deborah, thus upholding the divine principle that where men and women are in association, even in weakness, leadership belongs to the man.

Readers will be pleased to know that these articles by Mr. Clarke have been reproduced in booklet form and copies may be obtained from Mr. Clarke, C/0 19 Castleton Road, London, E.17, at 2/6 each, post free.

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