Reading through “Jesus and the Feminists,” I have come to see what the book is really about—Jesus and His treatment of women. But there is something missing…
In her remarks on Linda Belleville, Margaret Kostenberger writes:
“Linda Belleville is primarily a PAULINE scholar, and her contribution to our topic—Jesus and women—is therefore limited” (“Jesus and the Feminists,” page 166).
Kostenberger’s comments regarding Belleville shows an interesting, yet unwarranted, dichotomy—that the way Jesus treated women is SEPARATE from the way Paul treated women.
Let’s look at Kostenberger’s own remarks in her last chapter of the book, called “Jesus and the Gospels”:
“Evangelical feminists and others rightly observe how Jesus broke with male chauvinism and a derogatory, discriminatory treatment of women. This observation must be given full weight. What they have overlooked, however, is that this does not necessarily mean that Jesus obliterated gender-related distinctions in the church altogether, especially with regard to leadership roles. This is the critical balance Jesus found, and believers would do well to strike the same balance in the church today” (“Jesus and the Feminists,” page 214).
Kostenberger does in her book what most (if not all) complementarians do: they isolate the time of Christ from the time of Paul. This is why Belleville doesn’t have much to offer regarding Jesus’ day (according to Margaret Kostenberger).
But to separate Paul and Christ is to uphold the authority of Christ while denying the authority of Paul. Acts 9 records that the Lord Jesus met Paul while he was on his way to Damascus, blinded him, and told Paul of his God-given mission. The scene in Acts 9 shows us that the Lord has told Ananias to go to see Saul and pray for him that he would receive his sight. Let’s get in on Ananias’ response:
10Now there was a disciple at Damascus named(N) Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." And he said,(O) "Here I am, Lord." 11And the Lord said to him, "Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man(P) of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, 12and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and(Q) lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight." 13But Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man,(R) how much evil he has done to(S) your(T) saints at Jerusalem. 14And here he has authority from(U) the chief priests to bind all who(V) call on your name." 15But the Lord said to him, "Go, for(W) he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name(X) before the Gentiles and(Y) kings and the children of Israel. 16For(Z) I will show him how much(AA) he must suffer(AB) for the sake of my name." (Acts 9:10-16, ESV)
The Lord tells Ananias that HE has chosen Paul for a special task. So just writing on Jesus won’t do, when Paul was called as a Jew to carry the Lord’s Name to the Gentiles (which was a process that the Lord Jesus DIDN’T allow the disciples to do until after His resurrection—Matt. 10:5-7).
Secondly, Acts tells us that Paul met the Lord on the Damascus Road. And his encounter with the Lord not only changed his life, but revealed to him the Gospel. Let’s read Paul’s account in Galatians:
11For(V) I would have you know, brothers, that(W) the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel.[c] 12(X) For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it(Y) through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13For you have heard of(Z) my former life in Judaism, how(AA) I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely(AB) zealous was I for(AC) the traditions of my fathers. 15But when he(AD) who had set me apart(AE) before I was born,[d] and who(AF) called me by his grace, 16was pleased to reveal his Son to[e] me, in order(AG) that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone;[f] 17nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
18Then(AH) after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. 19But I saw none of the other apostles except James(AI) the Lord’s brother. 20(In what I am writing to you,(AJ) before God, I do not lie!) 21(AK) Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22And I was still unknown in person to(AL) the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23They only were hearing it said, "He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy." 24And they glorified God because of me. (Galatians 1:11-24, ESV)
Paul says here that, after encountering the risen Lord, he went away into Arabia, the desert, the barren wilderness, for three years. Paul used his encounter with the Lord and the Lord’s time with him out in the wilderness for a three-year period as a defense against the Judaizers at the Galatian church who still insisted that circumcision was necessary for salvation. Paul wanted the believers to know that the gospel he received came from God, not a man; and this is important because if it is GOD’S GOSPEL, it should come from God Himself (not someone else).
This is the same Paul who told the Corinthians that he had the Spirit of God within Him (1 Cor.7:40). So if Paul saw the risen Lord, who appointed him to the task of an apostle, then we should consider Paul’s treatment as well instead of dividing up how Jesus treated women from how Paul treated them.
Kostenberger claims that Jesus was opposite of the “male chauvinism” of His day, but what about the male chauvinism of our day, the all-pervasive attitude that MEN, and ONLY MEN, are called to preaching, teaching, and pastoring congregations? Yes, it’s true that Jesus chose twelve MALE apostles to lead the early church; but we find the apostle Paul, the one called by Jesus Christ, announcing that Euodia and Syntyche were laboring beside him in the Gospel, contending for the faith (Phil. 4); in addition, we find Junia as a woman apostle (Rom. 16), as well as Nympha hosting a house church (Colossians), and Chloe (1 Corinthians 1), not to mention Priscilla. And in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 11), we find women PRAYING AND PROPHESYING in the public assembly, RIGHT BESIDE MEN!
I’ve spent time on the blog detailing Paul’s view of women; but I haven’t spent enough time on Jesus’ treatment of women. So in the coming days, I’m gonna look at Kostenberger’s statements regarding Jesus and women and show the truth behind Jesus’ encounters with women. In addition, I’m gonna take the verse of Galatians 3:28, see its implications for the church, and look at how Christ pioneered the Gospel’s impact in His treatment of women. Stay tuned…