God has appointed men as leaders in the home and in the church (2022)

God has appointed men as leaders in the home and in the church (1)

God has appointed men as leaders in the home and in the church

After Adam and Eve sinned, God appointed the husband asleader in the home: “To the woman He said: ‘I will greatly multiplyyour sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forthchildren; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall ruleover you’” (Genesis 3:16).

The leadership position of men in the church is supported byPaul in this way: “For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adamwas not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell intotransgression” (1 Timothy 2:13, 14).

Thus, God’s appointment of men as leaders is based on theorder of creation (1) and on the Fall (2), not on temporary culturalcircumstances as is sometimes claimed.

The husband is the head of his wife.

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For thehusband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church;and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church issubject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands ineverything” (Ephesians 5:22-24).

The head leads the body. But this assumes that the bodylistens to the head. Otherwise it is an uncoordinated body, a bodythat does not function properly. But there is also feedback from thebody to the head to which the head must listen. If the head tellsthe hand to pick up something hot, the hand lets the head knowabout it!

Providing leadership for your wife is a fascinating challengeand a big responsibility. There are no leaders without followers.Thus the admonition: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as isfitting in the Lord” (Colossians 3:18). This is much easier if thehusband is obedient to the Lord’s command: “So husbands ought tolove their own wives as their own bodies” (Ephesians 5:28).

But what if the husband is inadequate? “Likewise you wives,be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obeythe word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of theirwives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied byfear” (1Peter 3:1, 2).

When the husband does not treat his wife and childrencorrectly, godly women can find themselves in extremely difficultcircumstances. In such cases, discussing the problem with fellowChristians can be helpful.

Peter goes on to say, “Husbands, likewise, dwell with themwith understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weakervessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that yourprayers may not be hindered“ (1 Peter 3:7).

I want to encourage you men to appreciate your wives. Thewife does not have an easy position in the family.

I appreciate Rita more and more as time goes by, whichmeans that I did not appreciate her enough in the past! We havebeen married only 48 years, but we have known each other for 63years, since secondary school.

It is also good to express your appreciation, which issometimes hard for men to do. We must not be like the farmer inCarl Sandburg’s “The People, Yes” who told his wife: “When I thinkhow much you’ve meant to me all these years, it’s almost morethan I can do, to keep from saying something about it.”

Let us appreciate and honor our wives.

In the family, both the husband and wife provide leadershipfor the children.1

Men have been appointed by God as leaders in the church.

Jesus, the Head of the church, is a man.2 The twelve Apostlesare men. Elders and deacons are men - since they must be “thehusband of one wife” (1Timothy 3:2, 12).

As leaders in the church, men have a heavy responsibility.Paul told the elders at Ephesus: “Therefore take heed to yourselvesand to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made youoverseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased withHis own blood” (Acts 20:28).

An elder must hold “fast the faithful word as he has beentaught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort andconvict those who contradict” (Titus 1:9).

Elders are instructed by Peter: “Shepherd the flock of Godwhich is among you, serving as overseers, not by constraint butwillingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; not as being lords overthose entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock” (1 Peter5:2, 3).

Younger Christians are to submit to their elders: “Likewise youyounger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you besubmissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘Godresists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’” (1Peter 5:5).

Some restrictions are placed on women.

Women have extremely important tasks in the church.3 Tosubstantiate God’s appointment of men as leaders in the church,however, certain restrictions are placed on the activity of women.

In the various passages we notice three restrictions that willbe discussed individually: (1) women are to remain silent in theassembly, (2) they are not to teach men, and (3) they are not toexercise authority over men.

Women must remain silent in the assembly.

“Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are notpermitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law alsosays. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their ownhusbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church”(1Corinthians 14:34, 35).

This measure applied to all congregations,4 even though therewere differences in customs among Jews, Greeks and Romans.

These passages are not difficult to understand but they aredifficult for some people to accept.

Sometimes they are flatly rejected. When a female cleric inHolland was asked what she thought of this passage, she replied: “Iwipe my feet on it.”

Someone who wants to appear to follow the Scriptures mustresort to evasive, false arguments.

Some claim that ‘remain silent’ here means ‘stay calm’ andthat ‘speak’ means ‘speak noisily’, and that women may thereforespeak if they speak calmly! First, this does not fit the context sinceit relates to a difference between men and women. Is it acceptablethen for men to speak noisily? Are men then not required to staycalm? Second, anyone who has studied Greek knows that these arethe ordinary words for ‘keep silent’5 and ‘speak’6. (See the endnotesfor more information.)

Since men are to lead, women may not teach or lead whenmen are present. To substantiate men’s leadership role, and toavoid any misunderstanding, women are commanded to be silent inthe assembly.

This does not apply to singing together, since in that casewomen are not exercising leadership or authority, but are followingthe brother who is leading the congregation. It is wrong, however,for a woman to sing a solo or to be part of a “worship team” thatleads the singing.

What about women who prophesied? Philip had four virgindaughters who prophesied (Acts 21:9). Paul mentions women whoprophesied (1Corinthians 11:4-10).

Some misuse these examples to invalidate the commandmentthat women must be silent in the assembly. It is never said,however, that women prophesied in the assembly. They who makethat claim are not joining the Scriptures together, but are tearingthe Scriptures apart! Several passages must be combined on thebasis of what is stated. They may not be brought into conflict byadding something not stated. Since women were not permitted tospeak in the assembly, their prophesying would have been outsidethe assembly.

Women are not permitted to teach men.

“Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do notpermit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to bein silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was notdeceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression” (1Timothy 2:11-14).

This prohibition underpins the leadership role God hasassigned to men. Also outside the assembly, a woman is not toserve as a teacher of men. This restriction is not violated when awoman teaches women or children.

If women are allowed to ask questions and make comments ina mixed Bible study that is not part of the assembly, the study itselfmust still be led by a man.

This certainly does not mean that a man may never learnsomething from a woman! Apollos is an example of this. “Now acertain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent manand mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had beeninstructed in the ways of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, hespoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knewonly the baptism of John. So he began to speak boldly in thesynagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took himaside and explained to him the way of God more accurately” (Acts18:24-26).

Notice that they “took him aside” and notice that they“explained” the way of God to him more accurately. Theseexpressions depict a conversational situation.

This passage is sometimes misapplied to appoint a woman, ora man and woman together, to lead a mixed Bible class. In the caseof Apollos, however, there was not a teacher-student relationship.

The example of Aquila and Priscilla does show that a Christiancouple may invite a preacher into their home and explain the wayof the Lord to him more accurately! Many preachers have benefitedfrom such help!

Older women teach younger women. “The older womenlikewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanders, not givento much wine, teachers of good things - that they admonish theyoung women to love their husbands, to love their children, to bediscreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their ownhusbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed” (Titus2:3-5).

Women may not exercise authority over men.

“And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authorityover a man” (1Timothy 2:12).

Again, this restriction is simply a consequence of God’sappointment of men to lead the church. Leadership is not limited tothe assembly. Just as a woman may not teach men, neither mayshe lead men. For this reason, prayers are led by men in a mixedBible study, although women join in the discussion.

Some try to justify women participating in “chain” prayers(where they go around the room and everyone says a prayer) byclaiming that each one is just saying his own private prayer, and isnot leading the others. According to Jesus, however, privateprayers should be said in private (Matthew 6:6).

According to Paul, group prayers should be understandable, so“amen” can be said afterwards (1Corinthians 14:15, 16). Thethoughts of the group are being led by the one saying the prayer.Thus, outside the assembly as well, the prayers in a mixed groupmust be led by men.

When a church has elders, decisions are of course made by theelders who are men. When a church does not have elders, sincewomen are not to exercise authority over men, decisions must bemade by the men of the congregation. Good leaders discussdecisions beforehand with those being led, which includes gettingfeedback from women as well as men. Only then can informeddecisions be made.

Man’s leadership is compared to Christ’s leadership.

This applies both in the home and in the church.

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord”(Ephesians 5:22).

To the church at Corinth, where some women were rebellious,Paul wrote: “But I want you to know that the head of every man isChrist, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God”(1Corinthians 11:3).

Man’s leadership does not mean that he may be a tyrant. Hehimself is under the authority of Christ. His leadership must agreewith the word of God. He has no right to contradict God’s word or toexercise authority that belongs to the Scriptures. In such a casePeter’s explanation to the Jewish leaders would apply: “We ought toobey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

Let us respect God’s appointments.

God has appointed the husband as head of the wife, and menas leaders in the church. As a consequence, women are not toteach men, are not to exercise authority over men, and are not tospeak in the assembly. Decisions for the church are made either bythe elders or, if there are none, by the men of the congregation.God has appointed men as leaders in the home and in the church.Amen.
Roy Davison

Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are fromThe New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.


1 “Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord” (Colossians3:20). “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father andmother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and youmay live long on the earth’” (Ephesians 6:1-3).
Fathers have a great responsibility: “And you, fathers, do not provoke yourchildren to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of theLord” (Ephesians 6:4). Fathers are responsible for bringing up their children inthe training and admonition of the Lord. This requires much wisdom andconstant attention from birth until the child is grown.
Bringing up children in the training and admonition of the Lord means thattheir upbringing must be according to the word of God. It also involvesteaching children the Scriptures, not only in word, but even more importantly,by example.
Timothy knew the Scriptures from childhood (2Timothy 3:15). Thegenuine faith which first dwelt in his grandmother Lois and in his motherEunice, was also in him (2Timothy 1:5).

2 In Acts 17:31 it is stated that God “will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whomHe has ordained.” The word used here is ἀνήρ, which is the specific word for a male, ratherthan the generic word for man(kind): ἄνθρωπος.

3 The contribution of women is extremely important in the body of Christ. There are manyexamples of godly women in the New Testament.
a. Women provided for Jesus from their means (Luke 8:1-3).
b. A woman anointed Christ’s body beforehand for His burial (Matthew 26:6-13).
c. Dorcas was full of good works and charitable deeds. She made tunics and garments forwidows (Acts 9:36-39).
d. Aquila and Priscilla explained the way of God more accurately to Apollos in private (Acts18:26). Paul calls Prisca and Aquila his fellow workers in Christ Jesus (Romans 16:3).
e. Philip the evangelist had four virgin daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:9).
f. Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea, was a helper of many including Paul (Romans16:1, 2).
g. Euodia and Syntyche were fellow workers with Paul in the gospel (Philippians 4:2, 3).

4 The Greek word for ‘church’, ἐκκλησία, means ‘assembly’ sometimes in the actual sense andsometimes in the definitive sense. Someone who speaks in an unknown language must “keepsilence in church“ unless there is a translator (1 Corinthians 14:28). This refers to the actualassembly. That “the women should keep silence in the churches“ (1Corinthians 14:34) andthat “it is shameful for a women to speak in church“ (1Corinthians 14:35) also refer to theactual assemblies. In 1Corinthians 14:33 we find the definitive sense (“As in all the churchesof the saints“) followed by the actual sense in verse 34 (“the women should keep silence in thechurches“). Thus, “all the churches of the saints“ does not refer to the actual assemblies, butto all local churches of Christ. In other words, in all churches of Christ the women remain silentin the assemblies.

5 The Greek word here for ‘remain silent’ is σιγάτωσαν, the present, imperative form of σιγάω.What do Greek lexicons say? Analytical: ‘To be silent, keep silence’; Thayer: ‘To keep silence,hold one’s peace’; Arndt & Gingrich: ‘Be silent, keep still ... in the senses: a. say nothing, keepsilent ... b. stop speaking, become silent ... c. hold one’s tongue, keep something (a) secret.’A. & G. classify 1Corinthians 14:34 under meaning a. ‘say nothing, keep silent’.
Here are all passages where σιγάω is found:

  • Luke 9:36 - “And they kept silence and told no one in those days anything of what theyhad seen.“
  • Luke 18:39 - “And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent.“
  • Luke 20:26 - “But marveling at his answer they were silent.“
  • Acts 12:17 - “But motioning to them with his hand to be silent...“
  • Acts 15:12 - “And all the assembly kept silence.“
  • Acts 15:13 - “And after they finished speaking...“ [became silent].
  • Romans 16:25 - “Kept secret for long ages“.
  • 1 Corinthians 14:28 - “But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silencein church“ [referring to speaking in foreign languages].
  • 1 Corinthians 14:30 - “If a revelation is made to another sitting by, let the first besilent.“
  • 1 Corinthians 14:33,34 - “As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keepsilence in the churches.“

6 The Greek word for ‘speak’ (“For they are not permitted to speak,“ “For it is shameful for awoman to speak in church“) is λαλεῖν, infinitive of λαλέω. Anyone who has studied even a littleGreek, knows that this is the common word for ‘speaking‘. It does not have the specialmeaning of ‘speaking noisily’.

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