Does the Old Testament matter to us today? If so, what’s a good way to approach reading it?
I am so blessed to have been a part of Montana Ministry Network’s family camp a couple weeks ago!
Every session I taught was recorded and can be found here: http://www.glacierbiblecamp.org/family-camp/
Please click on the “Bible Hour” icons beginning on Monday and move all the way through to Friday.
A copy of the notes we used can be found here:
As always, any and all feedback is greatly appreciated! God is good!
Are you bored or confused with Bible study? Do you need help with sermon/teaching/Bible study preparation or exegetical paper writing?
I’d like to introduce you to a hands-on method of Bible study that has helped several people get excited about studying the Bible again (or for the first time) and has helped others to do the foundational work for exegetical papers and for sermon/teaching/Bible study preparation. It truly is a fun approach to studying Scripture!
I have had the opportunity to teach this method to churches, Bible study groups and students from high school up through seminary/grad school. Now, I would like to share it with you.
Studying the Bible should be exciting! Watch this video, try it own your own, and let me know what you think!
One of the many fascinating aspects of the life of Jesus (as written in the four canonical gospels) is how many stories include women. Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Uriah’s wife (Bathsheba) are included in Matthew’s version of the genealogy of Jesus. Mary, Elizabeth, and Anna are included in the story of Jesus’ early life. Mary and Martha (the sisters of Lazarus), Joanna, Mary of Magdala, and Susanna are included as disciples who traveled with Jesus during his time of ministry. Mary (the mother of Jesus), Mary of Magdala, and Mary the mother of James and/or Joses are included in the resurrection story of Jesus. Dozens of nameless women who had ailments, illnesses, were widowed, or experienced unexpected loss are all recorded as interacting with Jesus during his itinerant ministry.
In first century Galilee and Palestine, where many women were deemed to be the property of their fathers or husbands, not once does Jesus treat women as being subordinate to men…Not once does he dismiss them from being a disciple, from participating with him in his ministry, from experiencing his joys and sorrows, or from doing life together with him. He treats women as equals.
Women are integral to his story, to his message, and to his ministry. If Jesus discipled both men and women, if he trained both men and women in ministry, if he treated men and women as equals, shouldn’t we do the same?
1 Corinthians 12-14 addresses various aspects of church life, including the importance and value of every person in the church, spiritual gifts, acting and responding to others with love, and disturbances during the actual church services that cause confusion and discord within the church body.
1 Corinthians 14.27-35 infers that 1) multiple people were speaking in tongues at the same time, 2) multiple people were trying to prophesy at the same time, and 3) multiple women were asking questions at the same time. In other words, what was originally meant to be a unifying experience at the church became a source of contention and discord.
In each of these components, Paul (who previously lived among the Christians at Corinth) suggests that the one who speaks out in tongues should also be willing to give the interpretation (if no one else does) and exhorts the Corinthians to limit these messages to three per service. For those who were interested in prophesying, Paul suggests that they give preferential treatment to each other by letting others speak first. For the women who were asking multiple questions during the service, Paul suggests that they remember their questions and ask their husbands at home. He argues that those who speak in tongues should be held accountable by the church, those who prophesy should be held accountable by others who prophesy, and the women should be held accountable by their husbands.
In all of these statements, Paul asks those who are causing disruptions to be silent and to consider how their actions are affecting the people around them. Not once in this passage does he suggest that speaking in tongues, prophesying, or asking questions is bad. Rather, disruptive excesses are the issue. Therefore, the principle…the truth that transcends time and space…is that consistent disruptions that promote disunity and discord during the church service need to be addressed in an appropriate manner so that everyone is truly valued, respected, and appreciated and so that God is glorified within the body of Christ.
Unfortunately, some have taken 1 Corinthians 14.34-35 to mean that women should not preach, teach, or lead areas of ministry that are over or include men; however, there is nothing in this passage to suggest that this type of thinking is plausible. Rather, Paul encourages women to learn in this passage and to prophesy and pray in 1 Corinthians 11.5, 13. Furthermore, several women connected to Paul were known for their leadership within the church: Priscilla was a teacher/preacher and tent maker (Acts 18.2, 18, 24-26, Romans 16.3, 1 Corinthians 16.19, and 2 Timothy 4.19). The four daughters of Philip were prophetesses/preachers (Acts 21.8-9). Phoebe was a deaconess (Romans 16.1-2). Junia was an apostle (Romans, 16.7). The list could go on.
None of these women were told to stop doing what they were doing. Rather, these women were encouraged to continue being who God called them to be and doing what God called them to do. The Church today would be wise to do the same for both men and women. May we be known for supporting and encouraging, not for discouraging and dissuading.
“Called by God, Compelled to Serve” Part Two
Prayer, Learning, and Action—1 Timothy 2.8-15
1 Timothy 2.8-15 presents a compelling call for prayer, learning, and action. In this blog post, we’ll take a look these three aspects in order to help us understand what was going on in the Ephesian church at the time this letter was written.
Call for Prayer
The author of 1 Timothy addresses the issue of prayer in the Ephesian church(es) in verses 8-10. He commands the men to pray without anger or dispute and with uplifted and pure hands, which suggests that anger/conflict was an issue for some of the men who were praying in the church. He commands the women to dress modestly, which suggests that some of the women in the Ephesian church(es) were dressing in suggestive attire and excessive adornment for the intention of flaunting and of seducing men.
Call for Learning
In verses 11-12, the author of 1 Timothy moves from speaking about how men and women of the Ephesian church(es) should present themselves in prayer to focusing on an unnamed Ephesian woman who had heard false and heretical teachings, believed those teachings, and was spreading those teachings within the church(es) (see 1 Timothy 1.3-4 and 4.1-4). It is possible that she was interrupting the worship of others by usurping and/or undermining the teachings of the church leadership. Paul (or whoever wrote 1 Timothy 2.9-15) implores this woman to learn what is true and accurate with a quiet and submissive attitude (she must learn). The author commands that this woman be given the opportunity to learn as opposed to kicking her out of the church. She was not silenced just because she was a woman. She was silenced because she was deceived by false teachers and was spreading false doctrine throughout the church(es); therefore, she must learn what is true and accurate before she can serve in leadership.
In verses 13-15a, the author of 1 Timothy 2 uses part of the creation narrative to create an analogy between Eve and the Ephesian woman who was spreading heretical teachings throughout the church (see my blog posting on Genesis 3 to read about how our understanding of Genesis creates a basis for how we understand various passages in the New Testament… http://alainebuchanan.com/?p=258). The author of 1 Timothy likely refers to the creation narrative of Genesis 2 and 3 to refute the popular viewpoint of Ephesian Artemis worshippers who believed that Artemis (the Ephesian fertility goddess) appeared first and then created her male consort. He corrects this perspective by explaining that Scripture tells us that Adam was created first and then Eve. He also uses this creation story to serve as an analogy between Eve and this particular Ephesian woman. Both women listened to a voice of false teaching, both were deceived, and both spread that false teaching to others (Adam in Genesis and various members of the Ephesian church in 1 Timothy).
Call for Action
In verse 15b, the author returns to speaking about women (in general) in the Ephesian church(es) and encourages them to continue on in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.
Overall, the author of 1 Timothy was not silencing godly women. He was not forbidding them from teaching in church, and he was not diminishing their call to ministry. Rather, he was likely imploring an unnamed Ephesian woman to learn, know, and understand Scripture in order to appropriately teach it….and he was encouraging everyone in the Ephesian church (both men and women) to pray.
Questions for Discussion
- Do these specific commands for prayer (vs. 8-10), learning (vs. 11-15a), and acting (15b) apply to us today? Why or why not?
- How does this passage influence your beliefs about women in leadership positions in the church?
Women throughout the Roman Empire in the first century CE were gaining economic independence, assumed greater roles in the public sector, and began to overthrow traditional domestic roles. One way to advertise a woman’s wealth and status was to flaunt their wealth via their clothing.
In reality, Paul requires everyone to be teachable and to learn with a quiet and submissive attitude before being launched out as a leader.
© Alaine Thomson Buchanan 2014
Introduction to “Called by God, Compelled to Serve”
The purpose of this blog series “Called by God, Compelled to Serve” is to answer the questions: Can women be called by God to serve in leadership positions in the church at large? If not, why not? If so, how should they respond? In these blog postings, we’ll take a look at some of the controversial passages in the letters attributed to Paul. We’ll address the literary, social, historical, and cultural context of those passages in order to do our best to understand what those passages meant for the original audience and what they might mean for us today. We’ll also look at how Jesus is portrayed in his interactions with women in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and will discuss the potential ramifications of the words and actions of Jesus on how we view and interact with women in ministry today.
Part One: Genesis 3.16
We’re beginning this series with the creation stories in Genesis 1-3, with an emphasis on Genesis 3.16 because many of the New Testament passages that are used today in order to support the idea that women should or should not serve in leadership positions in the church refer back to Genesis 3.16 in some way, shape or form.
The Creation of Humanity in Genesis 1 and 2
In a nutshell, here is a summary of the creation of humanity stories in Genesis 1 and 2:
Genesis 1.26-31 tells us that God made both male and female in his own image. God blessed them, told them to be fruitful and multiply, gave them rule over all the animals, and gave them every seed-bearing plant and fruit-bearing tree as food.
Genesis 2.4-25 explains that God made man from the dust of the earth and breathed the breath of life into him. God then created a garden in Eden and placed the man there so that the man could work it and take care of it. God told the man that he could eat from any tree in the garden, except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because physical death would be the consequence or result of eating from that tree. Then God decided that the man needed a helper…a partner. Before God created woman, he let the man name all the land animals and the birds of the sky…and then God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep, took one of the man’s sides (or ribs), and made a woman from his side/rib. God brought her to the man, who named her “woman” because she was “like” him. An aside then uses the creation story of the man and the woman as a basis for a man and woman coming together in marriage to become “one flesh.” Both the man and the woman were naked and felt no shame.
In summary, Genesis provides two versions of the story of the creation of humanity. In Genesis 1, both man and woman are created as equals. In Genesis 2, man and woman are created either as equals or as woman being complementary or subordinate to man, depending on how one interprets the word הַצֵּלָע (MT-Hebrew)/ πλευράν (LXX-Greek) in Genesis 2.22 (it can also be found in Genesis 2.21), which can mean either “side” or “rib” in Hebrew and means “side” in Greek.
Choices and the “Fall of Humanity” in Genesis 3
This then leads us to Genesis 3.1-24, with an emphasis on verse 16. The serpent had a conversation with the woman about the tree in the middle of the garden. The woman was deceived by the serpent, ate the fruit, and gave the fruit to Adam, who ate from the fruit in blatant disobedience to God’s command. Unfortunately, their choices led to the dissolution of perfect community.
Both the man and the woman heard God as he was walking in the garden, and they hid. When God asked the man where he was, the man answered that he was afraid because he was naked. The man blamed the woman for his disobedience, and the woman admitted that she gave in to the deception by the serpent.
Genesis 3.14-19 explains the consequences for the choices Adam and Eve made. For our intents and purposes, we will focus on verse 16, which states:
To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” (NIV)
The author of this passage describes both the physical and relational consequences of the woman’s decision. First, the woman would have increased pains in childbirth (which means that she would still be able to give birth to new life). Second, her relationship with her husband would be strained such that being “one flesh” as understood in Genesis 1 and 2 would take a lot more work, as it was no longer second nature. The flawless communion the man and woman had in Genesis 1 and 2 was now broken and a power struggle between the man and the woman would begin.
In Genesis 3.17-19, Adam’s consequences result from his disobedience to God’s command. The ground would be cursed, and Adam would have to painfully toil in planting, growing, and harvesting food…and because of Adam, death became a reality for humanity.
Questions for Discussion
The Genesis stories of the creation and fall of humanity lead to two questions…Our answers to these questions will most likely influence how we view and understand the role of women both in the marriage relationship and in the church.
1) Did God originally create:
man and woman as equals
OR woman to be subordinate to man
OR woman as being complementary to man?
To take it a step further…
2) Is the idea:
that man and woman are equals
OR that woman is subordinate to man
OR that woman is complementary to man
a result of the deception of Eve and the disobedience of Adam?
What do you think?
© Alaine Thomson Buchanan 2014
We just finished a Bible study on the Parables of Jesus at my local church last night, and I find myself reminiscing about times past. I’ve been involved in church ever since I can remember, but my high school years were a challenge. I remember coming to a point where I really wanted to learn how to study the Bible, not just read it, but I didn’t know how. I asked my pastor if he could help me, but he said he wanted to focus his time and energy on some of the other youth who were planning on going into full-time vocational church ministry.
I remember how discouraged I was, and I remember asking my parents what they thought I should do. My mom proceeded to pull out the family concordance and said, “I’m not sure if this will help or not, but it’s a start.” I taught myself how to use it, and I used it…a lot. For my high school graduation, my parents bought me a Thompson Chain-Reference Bible so that I could study the Bible even more…I did my undergrad at Evangel University in Springfield, MO, and, for the first time in my teenage years, I had the freedom to ask as many questions as I wanted to…and I grew immensely.
Things have changed a lot since then…I still have the family concordance, but my Thompson Chain-Reference Bible is long gone (I use the Greek and Hebrew texts now). What is amazing to me, though, is that one simple act…pulling out the family concordance…changed the course of my life.
Parents, we have an amazing opportunity to help our children grow mentally, physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. Everything we do matters…even the little things…like finding the family concordance. Ministers, we have an incredible opportunity to make a long-term impact on our communities. Let’s take the opportunity to teach people how to study the Bible for themselves and encourage them to ask questions. Together, we can make a difference!
Blog postings…That’s right…Blog postings.
I am so very excited about this!!! Over the next several months, we’ll be discussing three different topics that have the potential to shift the way we think about and interact with God, other people, and the world around us…Take a look and see what’s coming!
1) “The Generational God”—Since God seems to interact with people differently throughout the Old Testament, New Testament, and the Second Temple Period (500 BCE-100 CE), does that mean that character of God changes? If so, how is that reflected in our view of God and the world around us? If not, what does this mean about the way God interacts with people? Should we expect for God to interact with all of us in the same way? Should we assume that God will interact with previous and future generations in the same way God interacts with you and me today? In these blogs, we’ll take a look at how these writings portray the interaction between God and people and discuss the ramifications of those interactions for older, younger, and future generations.
2) “Called By God, Compelled to Serve”—Can women be called by God to serve in leadership positions in the church at large? If not, why not? If so, how should they respond? In these blogs, we’ll take a look at some of the controversial passages in the letters attributed to Paul. We’ll address the literary, social, historical, and cultural context of those passages in order to do our best to understand what those passages meant for the original audience and what they might mean for us today. We’ll also look at how Jesus is portrayed in his interactions with women in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and will discuss the potential ramifications of the words and actions of Jesus on how we view and interact with women in ministry today.
3) “Divine King and Suffering Servant”—The book of Isaiah is filled with prophecies that are attributed to the life and story of Jesus in the New Testament. What did those prophecies initially mean? Who were they addressed to? Did the authors of the New Testament interpret those prophecies accurately? How did other authors of the Second Temple Period (500 BCE-100 CE) understand these prophecies? Join me as we discover and discuss how the book of Isaiah influenced some of the beliefs and hopes of the authors of the writings of the Second Temple Period and the New Testament.
*Blog postings will alternate among all three topics. Any feedback or ideas you would like to share are greatly appreciated!
Several people have sent me this article and have asked my opinion about it. In all honesty, I am saddened but not surprised. Ladies, as someone who has and continues to walk a challenging road in ministry (as an academic who teaches Bible classes at the university/college level, as a minister, and as an active duty Army chaplain’s wife), I implore you to continue pursuing whatever it is that God has called you to be and to do. There will be times when others will say things about you (both to your face and behind your back). There may be times when someone tries to bring a halt to what God is doing in your life. There may even be times where you feel like you can’t go on, but I’m asking you to look beyond what you see in the here and now and continue pressing on. God WILL open doors for you that others may deem to be impossible. God WILL be with you, and God WILL sustain you. Keep pressing on!!!