The Religious A priori


Women And Christianity



Neither Male Nor Female:


The Deciding Argument:

Who is Doing the Work?




1 Corinthians 16:

I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and [that] they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,(16) That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with [us], and laboureth. (KJV).


There are so many good arguments on both sides of the issue, concerning gender equality and the Bible. There must be some standard that settle all the disputes. I think that argument may well be a view of Paul's attitude toward women in ministry. If Paul allowed women in ministry (and few today would deny thta he did) then there should be no barrier to women in ministry. If there is no barrier to women in ministry, and if women can assume all leadership posistions in the chruch, why should they not be construed as equal in all areas of society?

This is a very interesting passage, 1 Cor. 15-16, expecially verse 16, it requires examination in several translations.

NLT - 1Cr 16:16 to respect them fully and others like them who serve with such real devotion.
NKJV - 1Cr 16:16 that you also submit to such, and to everyone who works and labors with us.
NASB - 1Cr 16:16 that you also be in subjection to such men and to everyone who helps in the work and labors.
RSV - 1Cr 16:16 I urge you to be subject to such men and to every fellow worker and laborer.


Let's examine the Greek:


16:16 ina kai umeis upotasshsqe tois toioutois kai panti tw sunergounti kai kopiwnti


My own litteral translation is, "and also submit yourself to any and everyone who is joining in the work and laboring at it." Perhaps "helping in the work and laboring at it.

The passages cleary says "anyone," Panti (panti). In fact it is emphatic, because it repates the thought. First he says "tois toisutois (ina kai umeis upotasshsqe tois toioutois)(any such as these--or anyone) The he says "panti" (everyone, from Pan meaning "all"). He's saing any and everyone.


The word used here for "submit" (sometimes translated as "subjection") is hupautasso, the same word used for submit or submission or subjection in most other verses. This is the same word used of submission in my word study on the concept of submission. Is the same word, and the same kind of submission that is always used of any chruch learder or anyone in a chruch office. In my study on the term "submission" I gave this passage as an example of the cooperative meaning. But then I feel that all submission of one Christian to another is a from of cooperation.

Who is it with whom we are to cooperate? Anyone and everyone who is:sunergounti kai kopiwnti. sunergounti. From egron the word from which we get our word engery. It means "work" "engery" "effort" to expend labor. So "anyone who takes hold of the work." Kopiwnti labors at it. Cooperate with anyone who takes hold of the work and labors at it. That is, those who take charge, those who are doing what needs to be done and are going about it with dedication and exprense of energy.


How is Doing the Work?

Paul greets many people in many letters describing them as "helping," "helpers," "working," "fellow workmen." Sundergyonti is sometimes translated as "helping" sometimes as "working." There are other words used too. This is the way Paul spoke the ministers who worked by his side to spread the Gospel.He speaks this way of Timothy, he speaks this way of many men:

Rom 16:9 Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved.

Rom 16:21 Timotheus my workfellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you.


Who else is doing the work?


Paul Greets many women as helpers or as those who labor:

Surely Paul meant that Christians should submit to such as these, since they were involved in the work.


Rom.16:3Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:

Rom 16:6 Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us.

Rom 16:12 Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord.

Rom 16:15 Salute Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them.



Other women he greets without bestowing the epithet of worker, yet it is obvious that they are invovled in the work:

Helmutt Koster,probably the major textual cirtic in the world today, in a seminar which is transcribed for Bible text.org speaks of paul's view of women. He is speaking aoubt the theory that chapter 16 of the Book of Romans was written to the Ephesians. Of thsoe named in that section he says:


Koster: The other two dozen names are not girlfriends and boyfriends of Paul, but they are, of course, collaborators, and Paul writes this letter to Ephesus as a sort of final greeting to the Ephesian community, with also greetings among others from Erastus, the city treasurer, of which I showed you the slide of the pavement that he made.2 That is Romans 16. Romans 1 through 15 is also a letter of recommendation, but a letter of recommendation for himself, because he now goes to the community that does not know himů

QUESTION FROM A SEMINAR ATTENDEE: What should we finally make then of Paul's position towards women? I mean Ephesians has that passage, but it's not by Paul -- from his school. How do you reconcile that with -- of course the context is different -- but how do you reconcile that with what goes on in terms of equality of the genders... Women in seminary are so down on Paul and his attitude towards women. What are the ends that we should be making of Paul?

HELMUT KOESTER: I think everything that has been said negative about Paul's attitude -- negative attitude to women -- is nonsense. I think I know the Pauline epistles very well... I disagree with a number of feminists who sort of take Paul as their target. If they want to take Paul as their target, well, forget it, then you have nothing to stand on.

If Paul mentioned 40 names in his letters -- of individuals (and if we must assume that these individuals are fellow workers) -- and talked about the big missionary enterprise of which there are dozens of people or participants, well, of those 40 people, 16 are women. That's a considerable proportion of women involved in the Pauline missionary effort.

There was no problem. I don't think Paul had any problem with women. But the society had a problem with women in leadership, and the problem with women in leadership in the society became aggravated in the following generation, because there was one way in which women could buy in the religious communities their freedom and independence and leadership, and that was by giving up their roles as wives and mothers, and that is clear in the second century controversy with gnosticism.



There are other women of whom Paul uses these terms of working and helping.

Phil 4:2-3

I appeal to Euodia and I appeal to Syntyche to agree. (my own trans.)

(KJV) (3)And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and [with] other my fellowlabourers, whose names [are] in the book of life.

The Textus Receptus changes Euodia to a male name, but it is a feamle name. That's why I use my own translation of verse 2. But in verse 3 he clearly speaks of women laboring. The word is a derivative of sunergunti. This is the way Paul spoke of minsters, those who were peaching,and teaching, and spreading the Gospel. In saying "they labored with me" Paul is giving them a status of equal importance, claiming them as co workers.

Dr.Karen L. King
Harvard NT studies
PBS.org
From Jesus to Christ
Role of women in Early Christiainty

Women in Christianity, new Discoveries


"Euodia and Syntyche are called his fellow-workers in the gospel (Philippians 4:2-3). Here is clear evidence of women apostles active in the earliest work of spreading the Christian message."

Paul speaks highly of these women, saying they had labored hard with himself ad others as well.

Other women in Romans Chapter 16 are clealry vested with authority and leadership.

Rom. 1:1 "I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:

Rom 16:2 That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also..."

The terms used her are Deacon and Proistomi The former was used of Paul himself, a minister, a preacher. The latter, meant "President" or "Patron." It was a legal position used of Roman citizens to Patron foreigners who needed legal standing. It was also used of officials who were presiding over ogranizations (see Koster's comments on teaching page 4). Chenchrea was the port town of Corinth. Phoebe was a preacher and was also President of the chruch in that town.

In chatper 7:

Rom 16:7 "Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me."

"kinsemen" means "relative," Not Male per se. (see Koester's comments on teaching p4). Clearly Junia is proven to be a female Apostle. This is not only because the name Junia was a female name known to be used, and the male form givne in the textus receptus was not used (Junias) but textual evidence illucidated by Whiteley in Theology of St. Paul also indicates as much.

We also find women in whose homes chruches met. The tradition was for the chruch to meet in the home of the leaders. These women were leading the chruches that met in their homes.

Karen L. King
Prof New Testament Studies at Harvard
PBS.org
From Jesus to Christ
Role of women in Early Christiainty

"Women in Christianity, new Discoveries"


Paul's letters also offer some important glimpses into the inner workings of ancient Christian churches. These groups did not own church buildings but met in homes, no doubt due in part to the fact that Christianity was not legal in the Roman world of its day and in part because of the enormous expense to such fledgling societies. Such homes were a domain in which women played key roles. It is not surprising then to see women taking leadership roles in house churches. Paul tells of women who were the leaders of such house churches (Apphia in Philemon 2; Prisca in I Corinthians 16:19). This practice is confirmed by other texts that also mention women who headed churches in their homes, such as Lydia of Thyatira (Acts 16:15) and Nympha of Laodicea (Colossians 4:15).



In Acts we find the four prophetic daughters of Philip of Hieropolis. Even though the burrial sites of these women have been confussed with the Apostle Philip (their father was the Deacon Philip chosen in Acts) they were imprtant in chuch history. They made such a lasting impression upon the early generations of Ephesian Christianity that their tombs were vinerated, and they pointed to as great examples by Papias, and other chruch fathers up to Eusebius. In fact Euebius says that they served as important links in preserving the early history of the chruch.

New Advent Catholic Encyclopeida:

Article on "Philip"

according to the Dialogue of Caius, directed against a Montanist named Proclus, the latter declared that "there were four prophetesses, the daughters of Philip, at Hieropolis in Asia where their and their father's grave is still situated." The Acts (xxi, 8-9) does indeed mention four prophetesses, the daughters of the deacon and "Evangelist" Philip, as then living in Caesarea with their father, and Eusebius who gives the above-mentioned excerpts (Hist. Eccl., III, xxxii), refers Proclus' statement to these latter.



F.F. Bruce, an Evangelical Scholar and highly respected in most circles, tells us: "Eusebius tells us on the authority of Papias and other early writers that at a late date Philip's four prophetic daughters were famed in the church for authorities in the history of its earliest days." (The New Testament Documents, p.43)

Women in the early chruch were clearly invovled in the work in a major way. They assumed learship and were accepted as co-workers by none other than St. Paul himself. The way he regards them, he is unafriad to embrace warm personal relationships with them. He uses the deminuative of Prsicilla, Prsica, which denotes a close personal friendship. He speaks highly of Junia, along with her Husband, and of many others whom he recokens his equal co-workers. He even doubts one woman his "mother" (Romans). Clearly women were doing the work, taking leadership roles, and Paul instructs that chruches should submit to any who are doing the work. There is, therefore, no rational justification for banning a woman form any leadership role in the chuch.




The Religious A priori