Friday, October 28, 2005

bOILING over?

What are your thoughts about the biggest third quarter oil profit in history? ExxonMobil made $1,250 per second over the past quarter. Shell made 9 billion last quarter. Other oil companies also recorded huge profits during the same three month period during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

What do you think about it? I see that Senate hearings are going to take place. We live in a capitalistic society based in supply and demand. Should we have a problem when companies make billions of dollars in profit? Is this the "American Way?" Or should be stunned?

I will admit that right now I'm more stunned than waving the flag.

I'm anxious to hear your perspective.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Nora Jones and staying awake

I not only drive my wife hand-me -downs I now use her hand-me-down stereo. It's much nicer than the one I have in my office, so after carrying it around in the back of my car for two months, I finally plugged it in today. It came with a couple of CDs that Jeanette listens to. One of them is Nora Jones' (the daughter of Ravi Shankar. Ravi turned 85 years old back in April. He now is as old as Norwegian Wood!) Come Away With Me. It is so smooth I'm having a hard time staying awake.

I'm a person that just doesn't do music well. I have this tendency to get a new CD, listen to it 438 and a half times in a row, and then never want to listen to it again. (I'm now 234 times into Bon Jovi's newest release). I've become old. I rarely listen to new music. I know little about Weezer, Death Cab for Cutie, Greenday or Blueday or Redday. I do know about Bluebirds and Redbook.

I know who Kanye West is, I even watched a "Behind The Music" show on VH-1 about him. I even liked it and some of the music they played. Though I'm not sure I could pick out a song of his.

On a positive note I usually do like the sound track of Smallville.

I need to quickly expand my musical horizons. Any suggestions.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Halloween candy is only a week away!

Why do TV networks send weather-people to the eye of the storm? Watching Al Roker tip over from Wilma's wind is funny, but does it make the report more informative?

Living in the land of naive: At one point a couple of weeks ago I thought I would "tear out" our little back patio to save some money. As it turns out our little patio was ten inches of concrete held together with miles of "rebar." If I would have tried to remove it, we would have a new definition of eternity.

I just learned of Rosa Parks death. She was an amazing example of how powerful and influential one committed life can be.

I continue to think that Jon Stewart is one of funnier people in entertainment.

We had a couple of reporters who work for a Christian magazine here this past weekend to do an article on FXCC. I don't know whether to be nervous or excited about their upcoming December article.

I've started the past two days with this prayer:
“God, today let me be your servant wherever I go, whatever I do, to whomever I meet.”
It's made a difference.

More tomorrow.

Friday, October 21, 2005

What can someone learn from us?

I was sitting today at lunch with a reporter from The Christian Chronicle. He and his wife, who also works for The Chronicle, are in town to do a story on FXCC. As we were eating, he was "peppering" us with questions about our church. At one point he turned to the ministers and asked, "What could other churches learn from your church?'

Wow. That was sobering. What kind of example is our church to other congregations?

I thought of how it is an FXCC priority to get people integrated into our church family as soon as possible. And then the discussion continued with other ministers chiming in.

What would you say if you are reading this and you belong to FXCC? Or if you don't go to FXCC what would you say there is about the church you attend that other churches could learn from?

And then I guess the next question would be, "What could someone desiring to be more like Jesus learn from me?" "What could they learn from you?"

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

More than a little off

It’s my day off. For the past 2 decades my “scheduled” day off has been Friday. But last week that changed. It’s now Thursday.

So I got up this morning, let the dog out, and let the dog in. Jeanette and I had our morning devotional together (we read a Psalm and reflect on it, and then pray together) and then I went and played racquetball. I’m now sitting in my office typing this entry, putting off going home, because when I get there I need to, in the words of Mr. Miyagi, “Brucesan, paint the fence.” That’s right “the new fence” needs a coat of sealer.

Is that what you’re supposed to do on your day off? What do you do on your day off? Help me come up with a list of Thursday things to do.

More tomorrow about magazine articles.

Monday, October 17, 2005



It’s 9:13 PM and I just walked out of a weekly Elders’ meeting.  I don’t think any of the FXCC Elders are regular readers of my blog, so I think I can speak freely(.  

The FXCC Elders are a great group to work with and to work for.  I and every FXCC member are blessed to have this group of guys to help shepherd and lead us and to model for us how Christianity is supposed to be lived.  

They aren’t perfect and you can be sure they would be the first to admit that.  But they love our Lord, and this church.  Tonight was a typical meeting: a number of important concerns were addressed from financial to future growth plans to spiritual concerns for people under their care.  All of this done with the intent of seeking and apply God’s will.  

I wish everyone reading this could have the experience of at least once coming to an FXCC Elders’ meeting.  It is a joy and a privilege to see people working to help this church family be what God wants them to be.

More tomorrow…

Friday, October 14, 2005

To conclude...

As I wrap this series of blog entries up, I want to thank you for joining my little journey.  And I want to share with you a couple of thoughts I have about faith and gender.

I have lingering questions about the place and prominence of the “created order.”  Adam did come first.  I’m not completely sure what that means.  In my family it means, “Then God figured out His mistakes and then made Eve!”  

And I’m not sure what to do with this “headship thing.”  It obviously doesn’t mean men are superior and women are inferior.  Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:3
3 Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
Christ isn’t inferior to God, is He?  And as the head of the Church doesn’t Christ empower, inhabit and enlighten all parts of the body?  
And what do you make of Ephesians 5:32-33?  After this often referred to passage on headship and submission, Paul says, “I’m not talking about marriage.  I’m using marriage to illustrate how it’s supposed to be between Jesus and the church.  And then he says,
33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Is “submission” in verse 22 the same as “respect” in verse 33?

But, Paul does seem to refer to Adam as the head of Eve and husbands are the head of their wives.  And in 1 Timothy 3 after telling men and women to be humble and agreeable in worship he says, “Guys would do well to want to be an elder.”  Now I believe that deacons can be women and men, from this same passage, but he never mentions women elders.  

But let me end up with a passage that many of us in the Churches of Christ cut our teeth on (it’s right up there with Acts 2:38):

26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.  Galatians 3:26-29

As I mentioned I default to taking passages that seem pretty clear to me to help me interpret ones that are a fuzzier in meaning.  

Here’s how I see the above:
Everybody comes to God through faith in Jesus.  Becoming a part of God’s family through faith includes baptism.  In his family there is no hierarchy of race, culture, socio-economic status, or gender.  In fact, red and yellow, black or white, men and women we are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.  In fact, as children of faith, we are heirs according to the promise.

I’m thinking except maybe when it comes to few very limited areas of “church\body life” men and women are in equal standing and equally empowered.  And if people have certain gifts and talents those gifts should be developed and demonstrated.  (I think Ephesians 4:12 is for both genders.)  That means men can work in the nursery.  Boys can be taught to listen to and mourn with people.  Girls can read scripture and pray.  Special needs Christians can find a place in the family of God where they are loved and accepted as equals and never viewed as inferior.  Men, women, girls and boys who have beautiful voices should encourage others with their gifts.  Women with management experience and talent should be asked to use it.  People with different accents are welcomed.  Women can usher and men can serve meals.  The person who brought someone to Christ can baptize them.  

Two final thoughts:
1.     Change doesn’t mean that what we did before was wrong or worse.  
I was raised in a church setting where my mom sat on the pew every week and managed the kids.  I good morning for her was when my brother and I fell asleep (I’m teasing, but hopefully you get my drift).

Today in our church kids worship in a “children’s worship” environment where the good news of Jesus is communicated in an age-appropriate way.  Is that better than what I grew up with?  That’s not the concern.  The concern is “How is Jesus communicated to kids and families?”  Parents then and now want their kids to learn about God.  What happened with my mom and us “Black kids” on the pew worked for us.  We all still attend church.  My younger sister works in the Children’s Worship ministry of her church.  My brother and his wife) are both Children’s Ministers.  They dedicate their lives to communicating Jesus to kids using a different methodology, but the desire remains the same as that our mom and dad had.

Or think of it this way?
Are churches that don’t have elders inferior to churches that have Elders?  Are churches of 1000 better than churches of 100?  Are churches with small groups better than those without?  Well, we know those questions don’t even make sense.  It’s not a competition.  There are many things in church life that aren’t about right and wrong.  

But that doesn’t mean that things shouldn’t change.  If our goal is to glorify God and equip the saints for the work of the ministry and even if I didn’t grow up with Children’s church that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have one.  I didn’t grow up in a church with a youth minister, a small group minister.  Hey I didn’t grow up in a church with Elders.  But that doesn’t mean those churches were wrong.  Nor, however does it mean that the church I attend is wrong for having them.  

2.     Each congregation has to figure faith and gender out for itself.
As complex as the faith and gender concern is and considering God gave no clear specific guidelines, I strongly believe that each local church family has to figure this out.  Each local church family must figure out what it means to be show Jesus they love Him; show Jesus to themselves and to show Jesus to their surrounding community and the world.  And this “figuring it out” must be done in an atmosphere of love for God, each other and the lost.  It won’t be easy, but it will be worth the effort.  

See you Monday.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Now for the hard stuff...

I’ve researched like mad to see if I can make sense of 2 Timothy 2:13-15.
13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women will be saved through childbearing--if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

Maybe what Paul is saying, and I stress maybe, is that the women in Ephesus were acting like Eve when she was deceived in the garden.  2 Timothy 3:6-7 says, “6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.”  

So maybe Paul is aware that the women in Ephesus were following the same path to deceit that Eve did years ago.

However over in 2 Corinthians 11:3 Paul says of the men and women at the church in Corinth…
“But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”

So this is really tough to interpret.  But it does seem, considering verse 15, that Paul is talking to the women in Ephesus who had been duped by the false teachers and, who in turn, were trying to propagate those false doctrines.  These teachings may have included such things as celibacy, abstinence from foods (4:1-4) as well as myths and genealogies (1:3-5).  These Ephesian women may well have borrowed the false teachers’ methods of conceit, malicious talk, friction, and use godliness for financial gain (6:3-5).  Paul may be saying, In the same way that Eve messed things up for her and Adam, you women at Ephesus are doing the same thing by listening to and following “teachers” who have it all wrong.  

Now about 2:15…
     Maybe what Paul is saying is that the women of Ephesus need to return to the culturally accepted norms for how woman are to act.  Paul may be saying, “You don’t have to give up what’s normally thought of as being “a woman” to be spiritual in spite of what the false teachers were saying.  

Sorry, but that’s the best I can do.

More tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

1 Timothy 2:9-15 Part 1

9 I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women will be saved through childbearing--if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

As Paul writes 1 Timothy he is addressing a young preacher, Timothy, who could very well be in his first full-time ministerial job. The old apostle writes Tim to help him deal with the current situation in the church at Ephesus, where Tim is working.

From the outset of the letter it seems that one of Tim's major concerns he's communicated to his mentor is: false teaching. My reason for this assumption is that the first topic that Paul addresses in 1 Timothy is how to deal with false teachers (1:3-11 and in reality all of chapter one deals with false teachers) and then in the middle of the letter Paul returns to this concern (4:1-5) and addresses false teaching again.

This false teaching was having an impact on the Ephesian church. As Chapter two begins Paul seems to be informing Timothy how to productively counter false teaching and it's inherent fallout.

1) Have men pray for everyone. God wants all people to be saved not a select few. Prayer stablizes churches and connects Christians' humble hearts to God's truth. Men are to be involved in humble, productive spiritual prayer and service, avoiding angry disputes. (2:1-8)

2) Women are to dress modestly (2:10-11). I find it interesting that women dressing modestly comes in the context of prayer, don't you? It reminds me of what Paul talked about in 1 Corinthians 11:3. Here Paul is seems to be saying, "Just as I want men to pray in a humble manner, I want women to be show humility in their public prayers, too."
Typically, I've always glossed over these two verses, but I've come to believe that they are really important. If part of the fall out of the false teaching was a type of spiritual arrogance, Paul's counsel for the submissive and humble spirit of the men and women at Ephesus stands in sharp contrast. Though we don't "enforce" lifting holy hands, and could debate for hours what it means "to dress modestly" ("how much does an expensive dress cost?" or "How much jewelry is excessive?") we can all agree that Paul is countering spiritual arrogance with humbility and submission to God.
3) As men are not to get involved in angry disputes (2:8), women too are to be humble and submissive. Evidently, there were some women at the church in Ephesus who were "copping an attitude." It may have come out in many ways but Paul in chapter two addresses two of them. First in their clothing choice and public demeanor (2:10-11); and secondly in the way they handled themselves "at church." While at church Paul wants the women "to learn" (which I would guess would be a different approach from most of the educational ancient world) in submission and in quietness (NIV). There's tons of discussion about what those two words mean in this context. I'll tell you my opinion: women are to learn in a peaceful and deferential way. (I stole those words from a commentator.) I would guess this would be in contrast to learning in an abrupt, demanding, interruptive and domineering manner.

Considering the context of false teaching, where women are being disruptive and preemptive, here's what I think Paul is saying in 2:12: In the same way they are to act appropriately in dress and public action they are to act appropriately "at church." They are to be ready and receptive learners and they are not to dominate or domineer in their teaching. (Evidently in the original language: the word "submissive" has to do with their learning and the word "authority" has to do with their teaching, i.e. they were not to teach in a domineering style.)

One "expert" points out how easy it is in English to think that women can't teach men, but the word "have authority" or "domineer" qualitifies "teaching." It doesn't really say that women can't teach, they just can't teach in a domineering way.

Here's my thoughts up to this point:
At Ephesus, women were to dress in a style that was to show respect for their culture norms of modestly.
At Ephesus women were to be concerned with life choices that flowed from godliness.
At Ephesus women were to learn true biblical teaching with a receptive spirit.
At Ephesus women weren't to teach in a domineering style.

I'll talk tomorrow about how Adam and Eve and having kids fits into the above and final thoughts on this passage (2:13-15)

But for now let me summarize again:
Paul wrote Timothy to help him confront false teaching and it's fallout.
It's God's plan that...
Men were to be humble and receptive, not involved with angry disputes.
Women were to be humble and receptive to culture concerns about modesty and public action.
Women were to be humble and receptive in learning and not domineering in teaching.

More tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Rained Out

Sorry gang. Life overtook me today. I did a hour of research, some more thinking and then ran out of time. I will do my best to post my "current" view of 2 Timothy 2:9-15 tomorrow. You know that God says you have to forgive me!

Friday, October 07, 2005

How does a person get saved?

If someone asked you, "How do I get to heaven?" How would you answer? If your daughter or sister or wife or mother asked, "What must I do to gain eternal life?" How would you answer?

My guess is that none of us reading these words right now would say, "Get pregnant and have a kid." And yet if you read 1 Timothy 2:15 that seems to be saying what Paul is saying.

"But women will be saved through childbearing--if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety."

A couple of days ago in the comment section of my blog, someone hoped we could stay away from "interpreting" the scripture. After reading 1 Timothy 2:15 how I agree! It makes me think of Peter's words in 2 Peter 3::15-16

15 Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

Amen to that, Peter!

You can quickly see that the challenge presented here is that it seems as though Paul is contracting himself. Let me show you from the book of Galatians 3:26-29

26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

This is a passage which many of us raised in a Church of Christ culture are familiar. We become part of God's family through faith (belief, trust and obedience) to Jesus. Or in Paul's words "being clothed in Christ." There is no distinction between anyone.

In Acts 15:11 Peter said (with Paul in attendance):
"We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are."

And check this out to the Ephesians Paul wrote in 2:8-10

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

What's ironic, is that when Paul writes 1 Timothy, Timothy is working for the church in, you guessed it: Ephesus.

So what are we to do with apparent contradiction?

Unfortunately, interpret.

In situations like this, how do you proceed? I will tell you how I do it.

This strange sounding word means to figure out what author meant by the words used and how the original readers understood them. For example I'll look to see if "saved" in 1 Timothy 2:15 is the same Greek word Paul uses in Ephesians 2:8 for "saved." Exegesis then includes the background of the writer and the readers, the context in which the readers were living and the author was writing. Basically, it's trying to answer the "who, what, when, where and how of the text. It also examines the form of the writing (poem, letter, narrative, parable, etc.) And also check out other biblical texts that may shed light on the passage under review.

After attempting to figure out what the original participants of the text (author and reader) dealt with, then I try to figure out what those words mean. That's hermeneutic. Those are the principles, methods and rules used to figure out how to interpret a selected text.

In our movement for many years people followed a hermeneutic based on:
Command, Example and Necessary Inference.
I'll illustrate how this "hermeneutic" is applied. If I read the bible correctly there is no command for churches to have elders. There is however an example of Paul and Barnabus appointing Elders in Acts 14:23 as they returned to churches they had helped establish. Also in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9 Paul instructed Tim and Titus to appoint Elders. From those examples it is concluded that each church should have Elders. (Though obviously a large percentage don't.)

So if there is command obey it. If there is an example you are free (and in some cases you must) follow it. And if it can be inferred, then you should obey.

Without going into a great reason why, I don't follow this interpretive approach.

I will share with you some of my principles for interpretation:
1. The Bible is inspired, completely inspired and the final word on life.
2. The bible was written in an historical setting to historical, real-life people, who understood what was being written to them. (For example, I believe the first readers of Revelation understood the imagery John used and those first readers of 1 Timothy knew what Paul meant.)
3. There are teachings that are "core" (kerygma) and those that are "secondary." (didache).
Here's an example: core is humble Christian service. Secondary, washing disciples feet.
4. One method I use in hermeneutics is, "I take the passage understand to help interpret the one that is under question."
For example Galatians 3:26-29 is pretty simple to get, so is Ephesians 2:8-10. I'm going to take what I know from them and apply that overarching truth to 1 Timothy 2:15. Not the other way around.
5. And I will say this about my personal principles, I'm do lay a lot of weight on church historical practice. I don't care much about catacombs or crusades when it comes to interpreting scripture.

I have others...

Here's where the rub comes for most of us. What are we going to do about the text once we figure out what it means? For example, the Lord's Supper was taken on Thursday night we know that from the Gospels. No problem, until someone says, "Hey let's take communion this Saturday night?"

Application: that's the rub or the release.

My principles for applying biblical truth are probably not as finely honed as I wish they were.
Among those principles is this one stated in 1 Corinthians 9:22b-23

I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

Why do I share all this? Because each of us have set of principles to interpret scriptures like 1 Timothy 2:15. What are yours?

PS I'm not going to discuss or comment on my personal "hermeneutical principles" in this blog. Send me an email. Thanks

PSS I'll deal with my explanation of 1 Timothy 2:11-15 next week.

Happy Interpreting!

Thursday, October 06, 2005


Here we go...

As in all the congregations of the saints, 34 women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. 1 Corinthians 14:33b-35

A quick background thought on 1 Corinthians...
I think from reading 1 Corinthians, Paul is addressing a bunch of selfish, self-centered, Christians who were prone to forming divisive cliques to try to promote their own agenda.

When it comes to the above passage I can tell you want I'm pretty sure what "remain silent" doesn't mean.
  • It doesn't mean that women shouldn't pray or prophesy during worship assemblies. Unless Paul is as the attention span of a gnat, or the Holy Spirit fell asleep, Paul would not have forgotten how he started this section back in 1 Corinthians 11:1. In the first half of that chapter, Paul talks about what women are to wear when they are praying and prophesying in public assemblies.
  • It doesn't mean they can't sing a solo, or share a word of instruction for the purpose of strengthening the church. Because just seven verses earlier in chapter 14 Paul writes:

When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church. (verse 26).

So do I think "remain silent means? Over the past 20 years I've been all over the map on this verse. A few years ago, I did extensive reading on the four basic hermeneutical approaches to faith and gender: Radical Feminism, Patriarchalism (the two extreme approaches), Hierarchal Complementarianism and Evangelical Feminism (the two more moderate approaches).

I've studied submission, headship, authority, worship and leadership.

My view is still fuzzy around the edges and isn't completely defensible, but it makes the most sense to me.

I think that at Corinth, people's selfishness spilled over into public worship. It caused people to flaunt freedoms in prayer and teaching, it caused them to shun and neglect people while taking the Lord's Supper." In their worship some of the Corinthian Christians deemed certain talents, roles and gifts as more significant and impressive. And there were some groups in this church that when they got together for corporate worship, tried to take over and "steal the spotlight." Some of these "selfish and dominating" Corinthian Christians had the miraculous gift of speaking in tongues. Others in this self-centered group had the miraculous gift of prophecy and quite possibly there was another expression of this self-serving attitude found in a group of married women who could be counted on every time the church came together to worship to pipe up and try to take control over those public assemblies. (The word translated, "speak" can mean "piping up.")

So in 1 Corinthians 14:26-35 Paul warns all three groups to cut it out and submit themselves to the orderliness of worship. First he speaks to the tongue speakers (Verses 27-28), then to those who prophesy (verses 29-32) and finally to this group of wives who were popping off and piping up during worship (verses 33b-35).

This view is not original with me. But to me it makes the most sense in the context. Obviously it would mean that women everywhere (just like tongue speakers and or those who prophesy) are to submit to the orderliness of worship so that all can be mutually edified and strengthened which seems to be the point of 1 Corinthians 14. And to me this makes sense with the problems of selfish, cliques in Corinth and it isn't in blatant contradiction with what Paul said about women in worship at the beginning of this section on worship in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16

More tomorrow...

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Romans 16 and 1 Timothy 3

In typical style, Paul wraps up his letter to the Romans by addressing certain people. In Romans 16:1-2 he writes: (NIV)

1I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea. 2I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me.

A couple of quick and probably familiar points:
The word servant translated in the NIV is the same word Paul uses for "deacon" in 1 Timothy 3:8-13. (I'll address this passage in a just a second.)

Also the Greek word "Prostatis" translated as "a great help" comes from a verb that means both to care for, give aid to, and to direct, preside over. In the secular Greek of Paul's day it meant "benefactor or patron." One commentator suggests that Phoebe was probably a business woman, who used her wealth to support the church and its missionaries (like Paul).

In 1 Timothy 3, Paul shares directions for elders and deacons. In familiar wording for most of us, he gives what have been called "the qualifications for Elders" in verses 1-7. Beginning in verse 8 he turns his attention to deacons and their qualifications. And then in verse 11 he does something kind of wierd. He starts talking about deacon's wives.

11 In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. (NIV)

Now he said nothing about qualifications for Elder's wives in the preceding verses, but Paul now speaks to the qualification of deacons' wives. Why?

I'll tell you the only thing that makes sense to me...
He's not talking about deacons' wives. He's talking about women who are deacons. The Greek experts let you know that the word translated "wives" can also mean "women." Paul in verses 8-13 is talking about people in the church, "male" or "female" who serve as deacons.

Certainly there is room for disagreement since, as you can tell, I'm disagreeing with the linguistic scholars who have translated the NIV. But given the context it seems the only interpretation that makes sense to me (especially considering the Romans 16:1-2 passage) of Paul's wording.

So what does all this mean?
1. Women can be distinguished as"leading the way in service" just like men. To me, that seems to fit just what Jesus was trying to say in Matthew 20:20-28.

2. It is very telling that one of the "offices" of leadership is the word for servant. Leadership in Jesus' kingdom isn't about titles it is about service.

3. However, Paul instructed Timothy to designate men to be Elders and men and women to be deacons. I mention this obvious point, because someone might say, "What would be the motivation for a woman to want to have designation "deacon?" My answer to that question would be, "The same as any man who wanted to lead through service as a deacon."

More tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Sorry I missed you yesterday and today. Sometimes I actually have to work, plus I'm trying to be very careful in my study and approach to these blog entries. So you'll have to come back tomorrow when I can deal with "who can be a deacon?"

On a personal note: our church's "Block Party" was a great success. We had over a hundred "neighbors" join us. The weather was great, the popcorn was tasty and the cotton candy was sticky! Thanks to all the FXCC people who gave of their time and energy to make the Block Party such great and such a memorable afternoon. Trust me when I say it was a lot better than sitting in your den and watching football.

Thanks for your patience.