Problem Passages: Ephesians 5:23

Problem Passages: Ephesians 5:23

This post is a part of the series comparing the teaching on various gender passages in the Bible. Read more about the series here.

Ephesians 5:23 says,

For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.

Context

This verse is the beginning of a descriptive metaphor Paul employs to describe Jesus Christ’s relationship with his body, the church. It is foundational to understanding the relationship a husband and wife are to enjoy.

Summary of Differing Opinions

Much of the controversy in this verse spills into the following verses, so I will condense a few of those into three main points for this post.

  1. What does head (kephale) mean? The word head can be literal, as in that thing on top of your neck, or it can be a metaphor for something. Paul is using head metaphorically in this verse. Complementarians believe it means leader or authority, as in head of state. Egalitarians believe it means either source, as in the head of a river; or a symbol of the whole body, as in “counting the heads of cattle.”
  2. Is the husband the head of the marriage in today’s culture? Or was Paul using a Roman-Ephesian phenomenon to illustrate an eternal truth about Christ and the church? Complementarians believe Paul’s teaching on marriage is God’s eternal truth, and culture should not play a part in the interpretation of this verse. Egals believe understanding ancient Roman marriage unlocks the truth of what Paul is teaching about the relationship between Jesus and His body.
  3. How should we interpret the analogy of Jesus and the church to husbands and their wives? Complementarians believe Jesus leads his church and as Savior, he displays loving authority over all aspects of the church. Hence, husbands should exhibit loving leadership of their wives. Egalitarians believe Jesus originated His church by his redeeming death and resurrection.  Through this work, he gave life to his body. Likewise, Roman husbands were the source of life for their wives. Comparatively, they should then treat their wives as Jesus treats his body.

Complementarian Interpretation

All complementarians agree that head metaphorically means leader. Their main argument for this is found in verse 22: wives [submit] to your own husbands. (See my explanation of that verse, here.) Because comps define submission as requiring some authority to submit to, they find that authority in the word head in verse 23. Ephesians 1:22 also uses the word head in conjunction with submission.

“And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church.”

Using these two verses together, comps maintain that submission, or being under, requires a leader to be over. A major goal for complementarian marriages is for the husbands to behave as a leader. As a member of the church, men are asked to submit to each other, but since the husband’s role is to “play” Christ in the marriage, men – as husbands- have a different script to follow. Their job isn’t submission, but leadership. Husbands are to lead their wives like Jesus leads the church.

Leadership encompasses a right of privilege, authority to rule, and responsibility for outcome. Comps believe that the husband is not only responsible for his wife, but a good husband must keep his whole house in subjection (1 Tim 2:11-13).  It is the husband’s responsibility to ensure his family honors the Lord and is properly cared for. Comps impress the importance of the husband’s stepping up into their role of being their family’s spiritual leader. The husband, not the wife, should instigate church attendance, prayer and devotions. The husband will be held accountable for how he leads his house.

Since comps believe Christ’s authority in the home is centered on the husband, a husband should lead like Christ. As Jesus leads the church for the body’s good, honor and glory; a husband’s headship is exercised for the wife’s good, her honor, and her glory. His leadership is one of love. Comps often refer to this as “servant leadership” or “loving leadership.”

“Paul tells us how to control our wives when he says to ‘love them.’ Love them. That is how you control a woman. You must love her. She is built that way. When she is fully loved, she is fully under control. Love her.”  Jay Adams, Christian Living in the Home. Page 101.

Complementarians believe the husband’s role is harder than the wife’s role, because husbands are called to reflect Christ’s role as Savior. Their role-model was perfect!  Even though it is an impossible job, the husband must actively lead because he represents Jesus’ relationship to the church. When he fails to lead his wife and family, he damages the name of Jesus.

All complementarians agree that God gave husbands (men) and wives (women) distinct roles. Comps believe these roles are rooted in God’s creation of gender, and are an eternal “script” that men and women are called to play. Because Paul’s writing was inspired by God, it vitally important we hold to its teachings. Many complementarians will point to the history of male authority throughout the Old Testament and church history as evidence of God’s plan for men to lead. Complementarians, though they admit that studying  culture enhances our understanding of this text, do not believe it should influence our interpretation of gender roles.

Further Reading

50 Crucial Questions Chapter 2 by John Piper and Wayne Grudem

Egalitarian Interpretation

Egalitarians all agree that the metaphorical meaning of  head  is not always leader. In this context, its meaning is either source (head of a river) or a singular symbol for the whole body (heads of cattle). Egalitarians take the cue from they way Paul uses head in the previous chapter.

…we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Eph 4:15-16.

Egalitarians understand Eph 5:23 in a similar fashion. The significance of the husband being the head of his wife is that they are joined together. It would be absurd to have a head that holds itself separate from the body. They are one. The husband and wife are both made from the same stuff. There is no fundamental difference between the two genders both made in the image of God and redeemed by Christ (Gen 1:26, Gal 3:3). Just as Christ, as the source of salvation and the First of many, gives the church fully of his inheritance and righteousness; so a Roman husband, as the source of income, property, sustenance and legitimacy in Roman culture, is to join 100% of those goods with his wife. Love is the connecting agent.

Egals believe a proper understanding of this passage cannot be divorced from the original culture. That the husband is the head of the wife was a fact in Roman society. Whichever meaning is chosen for head – leader, source or singular symbol – a case could be made that meaning existed in Roman law.  Women were the property of men. No one thought about equality or the absurdity of human property. The shocker for the Ephesian husbands was not that they were the “heads,”  but that they were to love.  Christians husbands are a head AS Christ is a head. The following verses describe how Christ heads the church (love). Egalitarians find no hint of authority or leadership in this context.

Egalitarians believe Jesus, as Savior, originated His church by his redeeming death and resurrection.  Through this work as head, he gave life to his body. Christ saves the church to share the privilege of heaven with those he loves. He transforms the church as a gift of eternal life. Everything Jesus enjoys, he makes available to his body. It is through the head, the body is equipped for true life.   The responsibility of a head is to share privilege and life with the body. Those with the elevated position bring up those in the subjected role to a place of equilibrium by virtue of joining together in unity. And ultimately that is the heart of Paul’s message and Egalitarian marriage.

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. (Eph 5:31)

Further Reading:

An Exhaustive Study on the Meaning of “Head:” Are Women Really Free To Function Freely? by Wade Burleson quoting Lauren Fasullo

Household: Household Code in Ephesians (Part 3) by Michael W. Kruse

Christ as husband is about love not leadership by Retha

Ephesians 5:23

Comps Believe… Egals Believe…
For the husband is the head of the wife Head means chief or leader. The husband is responsible for his wife. His goal is to behave as a loving leader. Head means origin or source. A Roman husband was the key to life for his wife  in that ancient culture. This was a fact, not a goal.
as Christ is the head of the church, his body, Jesus’ relationship with his church is one of authority and leadership. Jesus’ relationship with his church is one of pre-eminence. He is the first of many.
of which he is the Savior. Jesus earned the right to lead his church by His death and resurrection. Jesus’ role as savior is to transform us into His image.

 

 

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Gems from Numbers 11: Prophesying without Permission!

Gems from Numbers 11: Prophesying without Permission!

Moses was stressed out with the load of leading a million whining ex-slaves. So, God has asked Moses to share the load. Specifically, He wanted Moses to share His Spirit with 70 hand-picked leaders.

He called together seventy of the leaders and had them stand around the Tent. God came down in a cloud and spoke to Moses and took some of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy leaders. When the Spirit rested on them they prophesied. But they didn’t continue; it was a onetime event.

God gave his instructions. Go to The Tent where I always meet with you, and this time I’ll meet with your 70 helpers. But there was a problem. Apparently, only 68 of the elders actually showed up!

Meanwhile two men, Eldad and Medad, had stayed in the camp. They were listed as leaders but they didn’t leave camp to go to the Tent.

Two of the men did not follow instructions very well. That, or they got the time wrong. Or maybe they got waylaid with a broken down cart. Or maybe they didn’t understand they were chosen. Or maybe they had a gig to finish up first. I’m sure they had a very good reason for not being at The Tent when God showed up. This next part is chilling.

Still, the Spirit also rested on them and they prophesied in the camp.

God gifted those who were outside The Tent! His Spirit indwelt those who didn’t follow the “meet in The Tent” policy! No wait…. God used the two misfits wandering around the camp to bless His people!

Admittedly, I understand the reaction of those who witnessed what happened.

A young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp!”  Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ right-hand man since his youth, said, “Moses, master! Stop them!”

I can hear Joshua’s voice in my head. (It sounds strangely like Mydad. pun intended) Put a stop to this right now! Tell them they are not supposed to be prophesying because they didn’t do things the RIGHT WAY! Prophesying without permission! What if someone sees them and thinks you’ve lost control of the camp! I think that last statement gets to the heart of the matter. Joshua was very concerned Moses’ authority would be questioned because Eldad and Medad got the gift of prophecy outside The Tent.

But Moses said, “Are you jealous for me? Would that all God’s people were prophets. Would that God would put his Spirit on all of them.”

God’s Spirit does not always follow the rules as we understand them to be. This little incident is just a precursor to the fantastic outpouring Joel predicted at Pentecost where God gave his Spirit to young  and old, women and men.  The lesson I take away is that God does not always follow His rules when it comes to pouring blessing out upon His people. Sometimes He uses the Eldads and Medads who are like us, a little bit different, to speak with power and grace.

Will you be like Joshua and seek to silence the Spirit even when given to someone you don’t approve of? Or will you be like Moses? Would that God would put his Spirit on all of us.

The Thin Gray Line

The Thin Gray Line

I have said many times that those who believe as Complementarians, often practically live out their marriages as Egalitarians. There are many varieties of marriage in the Complementarian basket. Some follow a strict hierarchy, others practice a more democratic system. Many Comp marriages are a great example of unity and partnership. Even though many Comps believe the wife is to follow her husband’s leadership, most Comp husbands  don’t require absolute obedience. In fact, they consistently yield to and seek to please their wives. They never (or rarely) pull “the trump card” of authority in their marriage to override their wife’s desire. A great explanation of this is found this article by Alan Johnson.

A Christian Understanding of Submission (A Non-Hierarchal-Complementarian Viewpoint)

In essence, many Complementarian husbands believe they have the authority of rule, but they don’t demand it. As a result, it is hard for Comps to understand the temptation inherent in the Complementarian belief system to domestic abuse. Here is the circle of thought by a husband prone to controlling, dominating ways.

“The Bible says I am to be the head of my house. I am responsible for what happens in my home. My wife should submit to me. She doesn’t. I must make her, so I can be a good husband.”

The husband’s role performance is based on the wife’s role performance. Hence, “wives submit” becomes uber-important for Comp marriages to properly function. This is why Ephesians 5:22 is emphasized in Complementarian churches. It is the hinge that swings a godly marriage. If it squeaks or rusts shut, the marriage is not functioning as God intended. The husband can’t lead because the wife won’t follow.

This gender-based role of wife-submit and husband-lead,  creates a thin, gray line. On one side of the line are Comp marriages that espouse gender-based submission and leadership, but in ways that look very Egalitarian. On the other side of the line lay the Complementarians that believe in a strict hierarchy: males and females must remain in their given roles or the church is headed for ruin. Because the line is thin, it is often hard to see the differences in Comp teaching, but the line is exposed by taking a look at the outcome of the teaching. Unified, peaceful marriages or abusive, subservient ones?

Because Comps believe a wife’s duty is to submit to her husband (regardless of the husband’s leadership abilities) , it is hard to find a firm line around what her submission should practically look like in a difficult marriage. Some Comp marriages are strict traditionalists bordering on abuse. Some Comp marriages find women negotiating their role of submission into something they are comfortable with, and the husbands distancing themselves away from having “the final say.” There is a wide discrepancy when it actually comes to how submission looks in a Comp marriage. Many times this teaching is simply empty theory. Many times it is an excuse to wield power over one spouse.

I have no profound conclusion. Understanding the differences in individual marriages may help those who label themselves Comp or Egal see an opposite view that may have been clouded. Not all Comps marriages follow the dogma, just the label.

Problem Passages: Ephesians 5:22

Problem Passages: Ephesians 5:22

This post is a part of the series comparing the teaching on various gender passages in the Bible. Read more about the series here.

Ephesians 5:22 says,

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

Context

This verse introduces what is often called the “Household Code of Conduct” for Christians. Paul, who is writing to 1st century Christians in Ephesus, spends the first part of chapter 5 describing how a Christian should live a life of love. In verse 18, he begins to define how a person filled with the Spirit behaves. This description segues into commentary on wives and husbands, children and parents, masters and slaves.

Summary of Differing Opinions

Who should submit in a Christian marriage? Complemetarians believe wives should submit. Egalitarians, as well, believe wives should submit, but so should husbands.

submissioninmarriage

Complementarian Interpretation

This verse is the mother of complementarianism. (The father comes a verse later.) It establishes their core belief that God wants marriage to follow a pattern based on gender. The wife’s role is to submit to her husband. The husband’s role is to lead his wife. They believe this verse proves that godly marriages must be based on a structure of authority. Unless the wife is following her husband’s leadership, they have become like the world (following the feminist influence) and are not pleasing God in their marriage.

Mark Driscoll, a vocal complementarian, recently questioned the motivation of some Christians who wanted to understand the original language of the Bible. He said that only “rebellious” Christians do word studies. I’m sure he said this tongue in cheek. The verse he wants Christians to accept the English-translation without question? This one. Wives submit to your husbands.

And this is the complementarian argument on its simplistic level. Many comps don’t need to interpret this verse, or understand its cultural significance. They are willing to take it at face value. Even though verse 21 states that all Christians are in submission to each other, wives have a gendered duty to submit to their own husbands. There is no reason to question the plain, English words of this verse.

God made women to submit to men in each marriage. (This understanding comes from the following verses in this chapter, which I’ll cover in time.)

…biblical submission for the wife is the divine calling to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts. – John Piper

Comps teach that this wifely submission comes with two caveats. “To your own husband” and “As unto the Lord.” Most comps do not believe all women are to submit to all men. They also admit that gender-based authority in marriage can lead to abuse, and so they caution husbands to lead in a servant-like manner. They also caution wives that they do not need to submit to a husband who is disobeying God’s will because of the phrase, “as unto the Lord.” (Well- sort of. Some well known Comp advocates have been known to say some outlandish things regarding women staying in an abusive relationship.) Comps teach that a wife should not follow her husband into sin. What this practically looks like varies by teacher.

Further Reading

50 Crucial Questions Chapter 2 by John Piper and Wayne Grudem

Egalitarian Interpretation

Submission is the state of living by the Spirit. The Egalitarian believes it is how all Christians, regardless of gender, should behave, wives and husbands.

“How desperately we need to see  that mutual submission in marriage and the family is not subtraction of wifely  submission, but the addition of husbandly submission. Only that is the  perfect biblical equation. In decision making within marriage, the ‘one’ who  makes the decisions should be the ‘two become one.’” Gretchen Gaebelein Hull, Equal to Serve, (Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan 1998), p. 200

A commonly used Egalitarian argument for non-gender based submission is based on the earliest Greek manuscripts of Ephesians. The verb submit (hupotasso) is not found in verse 22. Instead, it is implied from verse 21, like this:

(21)…submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ ; (22) wives to your husbands, as to the Lord.

Egalitarians argue that inserting the word submit into verse 22 and separating the two verses (which were written as one sentence) into distinct thoughts, is inadequate and incorrect. Hupatasso, the verb in verse 21-22,  is written in the middle voice which implies passivity, not activity. Submission is a state a Christian is already in because of the Spirit inside (vs 18). Even more so – especially in a Roman patriarchy setting- submission is a state a wife is already in. (On the passive voice of Hupatasso by Charis R. Hart) Many times, a wife naturally looks to please her husband, even in a sinful way, as a result of the fall. (Genesis 3:16)

Culture plays a large part in an Egalitarian’s understanding of Ephesians 5:22. Some argue Paul was enforcing the Roman law of marriage. Others argue for understanding the influence of the Ephesian cult religion of Artemis, which demands the superiority of women over men, into Paul’s instructions for Christian marriages. Regardless of which historical perspective the Egalitarians believes, they agree that historical perspective is key to understanding Paul’s teaching of gender in marriage.

Egalitarians are wary of separating Christians into authoritative categories based on gender, race or social positions.  Egalitarians believe the question of gender-based hierarchy has no place in a marriage whose goal is a unified partnership. “Who has authority?” is never the question a Christian should ask. The disciples asked that question of Jesus, and he told them, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,  and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.” A Christian marriage should be marked by service to each other. In decision making times, gifting and talents are a better factor than gender.

Further Reading:

Submission in Marriage by Marg Mowczko

Authority vs submission – a biblical view of Ephesians 5:22 by Cheryl Schatz

Ephesians 5:22

Comps Believe… Egals Believe…
Wives Wives alone must submit because she is woman. Husband and wives submit to each other.
submit Submit means to arrange yourself under an authority. Submit means yeilding to another.
to your own husbands Husbands are the authority in marriage. Paul is exemplifying a cultural phenomenon of patriarchy.
as to the Lord. God is the ultimate authority, and a wife should never submit to doing evil. Christian wives are now “in the Lord,” living by the Spirit. This position will influence their marriage.

Does Someone Have to be in Charge? (Part 5)

This is a continuation of the outline series exploring the roots of the chain of authority. The original articles by Kristen Rosser are at No Longer Qivering. Please browse the outline, then if your spirit it so led, go over to the full articles to read her extended insights. Posted with permission.

Jesus was quite accurate when He said that hierarchies of authority and rule were of the “Gentiles” in Matthew 20:25, because the concept known as the “Great Chain of Being” was formed in Greek thought and was never taught by our Savior. We are Gentiles also, and we have taken hierarchy for granted, missing the impact of Christ’s words that it is to be “not so among you,” for too long. KR

This section looks at authority in marriage. The following quote sums up one Complementarian argument for husband authority in marriage.

“What your husband wants is your acknowledgement that he is the leader, the one in authority. This is not to grind you under or treat you as inferior. It is only to say that because God has made your husband responsible (review Eph. 5:22-33), he needs the authority to carry out that responsibility. No smoothly running organization can have two heads. To set up a marriage with two equals at the head is to set it up for failure. That is one of the big reasons that people are divorcing today.” Eggerichs, Love and Respect, Thomas Nelson (2004), page 221.

The following outline argues against the presumptions established in the above quote.

1. The husband might be called to lead, but it is not required of him simply because he is the male.

a. Eggerichs (from the quote above) equates husband leadership with the right or power of authority in marriage.

b. This argues Aristotle’s for “Great Chain of Command.”

c. It places males and females in a hierarchy under God.

d. This viewpoint from Ephesians 5:22-23 leaves out the context of Ephesians 5:21.

2. Marriage should not be defined as an organization.

a. The Bible defines marriage in the organic terms of close friendship.

i. One flesh. Mat 9:6

ii. Covenant. Mal 2:14

iii. Companionship. Mal 2:14

b. “Best friends do no need one of them to be a leader. In that case they wouldn’t be best friends— they’d be hero and sidekick.”KR

i. Establishing friendship based on a business model destroys the relationship.

ii. Boss and employee are cautioned not to become more than acquaintances for that reason.

c. Oneness does not concern itself with who is in charge, but with blending its parts into the whole.

3. A family might run closer to a business model than marriage, but it is a partnership business model, not a sole proprietorship.

a. Some successful businesses are partnerships; especially in a small business model similar to a family.

i. Both partners share equal risk and contribute equally to the success of the venture.

ii. Neither partner is in charge of the other.

ii. Consensus is the desired goal.

b. Children need leadership and guidance.

i. The mother and father share in leading the children.

ii. One does not have to lead the other.

In a family where the wife is better with figures and the husband better at planning events, for instance, she might defer to him on when and where to throw a party, and he might defer to her on how much to spend on it.  There would be no need for either one to try to squeeze into rigid “roles” that neither is suited for. KR

c. A marriage is especially suited to be a partnership since the goal is “oneness” and close companionship.

4. The example of the Proverbs 31 marriage reflects a partnership model.

a. The wife works independently of husband.

b. Her husband trusts her to buy land, run a business and manange the servants.

c. She does not seek his leadership in any of these things.

d. The husband meets his own duties, and lets her work speak for itself.

Does Someone Have to Be in Charge? (Part 4)

Kristen, who comments here frequently, has put together two articles on “biblical” authority. Here is the premise in her own words:

God cannot be found in the Bible to be setting up a “someone always has to be in charge” system of top-down human hierarchy.  Someone, in fact, does not always have to be in charge.  Sometimes it works just fine to have no one in charge, or a group of equals in charge.  It really depends on the circumstances.

The original articles by Kristen Rosser are at No Longer Qivering. I want to learn her information well, so I jotted down a simple outline of her study. Please browse the outline, then if your spirit it so led, go over to the full articles to read her extended insights. Posted with permission.

…it seems apparent that the notion of the Trinity as a hierarchy of authority between Father, Son and Holy Spirit is a continuation of this notion of the Great Chain of Being into the Godhead Itself. But is this the way the Bible actually describes the submission of the Son to the Father?

1. Jesus temporarily laid down His equality with the Father to become a man. His exalted authority and glorious honor returned to Him after His resurrection.

a. Phil 2:6-9

i. He humbled himself to become a man and gave up his equality with God.

ii. Now, “God hath highly exalted him and given him a name which is above every name.”

b. Heb 2:9

i. He was made a little lower than the angels…

ii. …so that he could taste death like all men.

iii. He is  “crowned with glory and honor.”

2. The very nature of the Trinity disproves the need for authority and submission.

 a. The three persons of the Godhead have the same will.

b. Submission is only necessary with there is a difference of will.

c. The only time the Divine Will differed was when Jesus, the man, questioned His Divine purpose.

i. Hebrews 5:8 says that Christ learned obedience through his suffering.

ii. Obedience was new to Jesus, hence He has to learn it, because the three wills were One in eternity past.

3. Divine Mutuality is evident even during the Incarnation.

a. “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently [at once] give me more than twelve legions of angels? (Matthew 26:53)

i. “But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be [that the Christ must die]?”

ii. Jesus was positive the Father would follow Jesus’ will, but Jesus himself was choosing to follow the planned task.

b.  “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do.” (John 5:19)

i. Jesus sees the Father. The Father does not tell Jesus what to do.

ii. This aspect of triune divinity cannot be compared with human relationships. (Col 1:15, Heb 1:3)

c. God is the head (source or origin) of Christ. (1 Cor 11:3)

i. In context, this verse refers to origins.

ii. Christ is the title for the human and promised Messiah. Notice the verses say God is the head of Christ, not the Son.

iii. Christ, the human Messiah who is Jesus, originated in eternity with God.

iv. Through Christ, man was formed. Through  man, woman was formed.

v. All things come from God.

This passage is not setting up a hierarchy: God-Christ-man-woman— because it is not stated in that order; instead, it is given in chronological order according to when each came into the world: the man, created by and through Christ; then the woman, taken out of the man; then the Christ, sent by God.

4. There is a dynamic movement of authority between the  Father and the Son depending on time and circumstance.

a. “And when all things shall be subdued to him [the Christ], then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” (1 Cor 15:28)

i. The context is looking ahead to the final resurrection when Christ shall deliver the Kingdom to the Father and all things are put under Christ’s feet, including death.

ii. Christ, a part of creation Himself, was given all authority over creation at the present time by the Father.

iii. When the end comes, Christ will hand it all over to the Father, who is outside creation and thus not under Christ’s authority.

iv. When the end comes, the Son (Christ) will be subject to the Father. This future subjection contradicts the notion the Son is always in submission to the Father.

v. Eph 1:21 states that God has put Christ above “every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in the one to come.” This suggests the future subordination of Christ is a one time event closing the authority structure of this created world.

vi. Also,  since an article is added before God (the God) in verse 28 as opposed to God (the Father) in verse 24, there may be room for a different interpretation of meaning. “Accordingly, 1 Cor 15:28 . . . may be better translated, ‘so that the Godhead may be all in all.’” Phillip Payne, Man and Woman, One in Christ.

b. The Trinity shares authority.

i. It makes sense that the Son would be in submission to the Father during His human incarnation, not in his eternal divine state.

ii. “We cannot, then, use the submission of the Son to the Father at certain times and events as an indication that the nature of the Godhead is a divine hierarchy.” KR

iii. To view the Trinity as a divine hierarchy, changes the very nature of the persons of the godhead. They can only be in subjection if their essence differed from each other. This difference would create 3 different gods instead of One.

Part five will conclude my outlining of Kristen’s articles. It will cover authority in marriage.

Does Someone Have to Be in Charge? (Part 3)

Kristen, who comments here frequently, has put together two articles on “biblical” authority. Here is the premise in her own words:

God cannot be found in the Bible to be setting up a “someone always has to be in charge” system of top-down human hierarchy.  Someone, in fact, does not always have to be in charge.  Sometimes it works just fine to have no one in charge, or a group of equals in charge.  It really depends on the circumstances.

The original articles by Kristen Rosser are at No Longer Qivering. I want to learn her information well, so I jotted down a simple outline of her study. Please browse the outline, then if your spirit it so led, go over to the full articles to read her extended insights. Posted with permission.

So where did the idea come from, that God has ordained top-down chains of command, both in earthly and in spiritual relationships, with human authority structures in every area of life?

1. The Greek “Great Chain of Being”

a. Plato philosophized about the Ultimate Good.

b. Aristotle equated Plato’s Ultimate Good with his idea of God.

i. Aristotle believe God was the author of all good things.

ii. Aristotle graded things in relation to their goodness or “perfection.”

c. The students of Plato and Aristotle built upon these thoughts and concluded creation is graded in a hierarchy, “from the Supreme God down to the last dregs of things, mutually linked together and without a break.” ~Macrobius

2. The Christian”Great Chain of Being” (Alan Myatt)

a. Christian apologists adopted the “great chain of being” philosophy to defend their faith.

b. In the middle ages, the church defined the “great chain” into three estates:

i. Church officials led by the pope

ii. Ruling class: kings, nobility and knights

iii.  Peasants and merchants

c. The church declared this chain was God’s created and established order.

i. ” Any violation of the established authority within each estate was seen as a threat to the creation order, and subversive to the state and to the stability of Christian culture. ” (Alan Myatt)

ii. “Any attempt to leave one’s place in the chain was therefore an act of rebellion.” (Alan Myatt)

3. The Elizabethan “Great Chain of Being”

a. During the 1500’s the hierarchy was graded even further with a “top spot” heading up each class.

i. For example, the lion as the “king” of beasts is born at this time.

ii. Dolphins were considered first of the fishes, and the emperor first of men.

b. It was a common assumption that all of creation followed a hierarchical “created” order.

 “In the earth God has assigned kings, princes with other governors under them, all in good and necessary order. The water above is kept and raineth down in due time and season. The sun, moon, stars, rainbow, thunder, lightening, clouds, and all birds of the air do keep their order.” (Ibid, p. 88. The Homily of Obedience written in 1547)

4. Hierachial interpretation is found all over the world.

a. Greek pagan philosophy birthed our Western understanding of hierarchical authority, but the East is influenced with hierarchy structure as well.

b.  Because hierarchical schema is so pervasive in human thought, we interpret the biblical text accordingly, regardless if hierachy is actually present.

Part 4 will explore the existence of hierarchy in the Godhead.