Thursday, June 18, 2009

Phoebe, Part I (Romans 16:1-2)

Today’s post will tackle another “introductory” issue to the study of ordained women in the early church. This new introductory issue to encounter head-on involves three New Testament texts regarding women: (1) Romans 16:1-2, (2) 1 Timothy 3:8-11, and (3) 1 Timothy 5:3-13.

In today’s post I am gonna talk about Phoebe, a woman recognized by Paul in his letter to the Romans, chapter 16, verses 1 &2. I’ll print the text here:

“I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea; that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and that you help her in whatever matter she may have need of you; for she herself has also been a helper of many, and of myself as well” (Rom. 16:1-2, NASB).

I spent some time in the library yesterday researching on Phoebe. I was curious to find out whether or not Phoebe was considered to be a deacon in the early church. After researching 7 commentaries, I got sufficient information on Phoebe. I’ll share with you what I found here:

Several translations call her ‘a deaconess’ (as RSV; cf. NEB, ‘who holds office’). It is not easy to defend that translation, for the word ‘deaconess’ is not found until much later. But Paul’s word, besides meaning ‘servant,’ is the word for ‘deacon’ (it is the word used, e.g., in Phil. 1:1), and it may well be that Paul is describing Phoebe as a deacon of the church at Cenchrea. Some commentators hold that THERE WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN FEMALE OFFICEBEARERS AS EARLY AS PAUL’S TIME AND THUS ARGUE FOR THE MEANING ‘SERVANT’ here. But the social conditions of the time were such that there must have been the need for feminine church workers to assist in such matters as the baptism of women or anything that meant contact with women’s quarters in homes” (Pillar New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1998, pages 528-529).

Do you see the phrase I’ve capitalized in the quote above? It shows that there are those who are willing to rule out the idea of women being deacons in the early church. And then, read Leon Morris’s response: he states that there must have been a position of helping women that REQUIRED, in some sense, a woman to help. But Acts 6 goes into detail about seven MEN, seven males, who are to aid the Gentile widows (women) regarding their daily needs. It seems then, that the men were appointed to such a task. Could it be that the women, then, were appointed as deacons to aid the widowers (men) in their daily needs?

I won’t dare answer that question. I will say, however, that I think this idea of separating tasks according to gender is a bit absurd. To say that women are ONLY made deacons to aid other women is like saying that the men of Acts 6 were ONLY appointed deacons in order to aid other men. That’s insane! Shouldn’t believers look at the biblical text regarding men and women in leadership and admire both equally WITHOUT separating according to gender and placing the male deacons ABOVE the female deacons? Morris’s quote above makes out Phoebe’s position to be one of NECESSITY—after all, some woman had to become a deacon to HELP OTHER WOMEN, right? But I think Paul tells us how important of a person Phoebe was: according to Leon Morris (same source, “It seems likely that she was the person entrusted with the task of taking the letter to the Roman church, for a commendation of someone not with the letter normally refers to a future arrival (cf. 1 Cor. 16:10; Col. 4:10)” (528). Phoebe wasn’t just a deacon at her church—Paul also entrusted her with this letter to the Romans. By the way, she was a deacon at the church in Cenchrea, some 8 miles, it is believed, from Rome. Phoebe is not mentioned as having a husband, or being a widow, or anything else. She is simply described as an exceptional woman for God. The fact that she is entrusted with this letter tells us the kind of admiration Paul had for her.

According to Douglas Moo, Phoebe’s title is peculiar in and of itself:

But the qualification of ‘diakonos’ by ‘of the church’ suggests, rather, that Phoebe held at Cenchreae the ‘office’ of ‘deacon’ as Paul describes it in 1 Tim. 3:8-12 (cf. Phil. 1:1). We put ‘office’ in quotation marks BECAUSE IT IS VERY LIKELY THAT REGULAR OFFICES IN LOCAL CHRISTIAN CHURCHES WERE STILL IN THE PROCESS OF BEING ESTABLISHED, as people who regularly ministered in a certain way were GRADUALLY RECOGNIZED OFFICIALLY BY THE CONGREGATION AND GIVEN A REGULAR TITLE. Moreover, the NT furnishes little basis on which to pinpoint the ministries carried out by deacons. But based partially on hints within the NT and partially on the later institution of the diaconate, it is likely that deacons were charged with visitation of the sick, poor relief, and perhaps financial oversight” (New International Commentary of the New Testament: The Epistle to the Romans. Grand Rapids, Mi.: William B. Eerdmans, 1996, page 914).

Moo states that those who served in positions were recognized by the church, back in a time when offices were not as clearly defined as many seem to be today. What was the emphasis on? “people who REGULARLY ministered in a certain way.” The offices were not based on gender; the offices were based on ability, giftedness, and calling. If there was a need to be met in the church, someone who was gifted would fulfill that part. Need by-passed the gender hierarchy that has come to dominate our times. Also, because “the NT furnishes little basis on which to pinpoint the ministries carried out by deacons,” deacons served in a variety of capacities, much like they do today. Steven, for example, one of the first deacons (Acts 6), preaches a sermon in Acts 7. In fact, if we never read in Scripture where Steven preached, we would never have believed that he actually DID preach in the early church. Phillip, a noted deacon/evangelist, also contributed. These men were gifted by God in many areas, and when the needs of the church required these other areas of giftedness, the needs were met by such giftedness. I can imagine that if preaching needs were met by deacons, other needs like musicians and teachers and pastors were met by such men as well. Today’s deacons in most churches are there to help administer Holy Communion, baptize, visit the sick, and help the Pastor in whatever need he may have.

When I was 10 years old, I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. I grew up in a church where my grandfather was (and still is) the Pastor’s right-hand man. He is the head deacon, and is well-loved and respected by all (of course, I’m BIASED in saying that!!!) Still, though, he helped baptize me and my twin sister back in October 1994 (along with our Pastor then, who is no longer Pastor of the church). As crazy as it sounds, though, the deacons are there to meet WHATEVER NEEDS come their way! As you can imagine, Phoebe had no small part to play in the early church.
Evidently, she could hold her own, for Paul appointed her to deliver the letter to the Roman believers.

In another commentary, Phoebe’s role as a leader is staunchly defended:

Phoebe is called a ‘servant’ (diakonos, GK 1356) of this church. The same word can be rendered ‘deaconess’ (RSV, NJB) or ‘minister’ (REB). WOMEN AS WELL AS MEN SERVED IN LEADERSHIP POSITIONS IN THE EARLY CHURCH, and there is no reason to exclude the possibility that some of the ‘diakonois’ of Philippians 1:1 were women (cf. 1 Tim. 3:11). WOMEN CLEARLY HELD POSITIONS OF RESPONSIBILITY IN LOCAL CONGREGATIONS. Stuhlmacher…rightly comments, ‘Women played a role in the work of the early Christian mission churches which was in no way MERELY SUBORDINATE, but RATHER FUNDAMENTAL.’ In the present passage, THERE IS NOT THE SLIGHTEST CONTROVERSY ASSOCIATED WITH PHOEBE’S BEING A DEACON. Her service in that role is taken for granted (v.2)” (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Revised Edition: Romans ~ Galatians. Grand Rapids, Mi.: Zondervan, 2005, page 226).

This commentary clearly states that Phoebe was a part of the leadership of the early church. So, without question, women were a part of church leadership in the early days following Jesus’ ascension. The early church had no problem with it, but many conservative evangelicals do so today.

I’ve spent time here at the blog attacking the work of Andreas Kostenberger and his wife, Margaret. However, Dr. Andreas Kostenberger is more open to the idea of women deacons that many professors I’ve met in the last three years. He believes it’s a shame that most Southern Baptist churches don’t include women in the leadership position of deacon, since, according to him, Scripture does. But his position regarding women differs from that of another colleague of his. This colleague has written a book in which he affirms that the characteristics of women in 1 Tim. 3:8-11 refers only to WIVES of deacons, not women as deacons themselves.

In Part II of our study of Phoebe, I will continue to share my research with those of you who want to arm yourselves for the complementarian.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Deacons? Deaconesses? Presbyters?

Tonight I’m back to discuss the titles that women held in the early church. Once again, just to inform the readership: this is part of the “introductory matters” I informed you about earlier today. This post will cover the titles of women, and the following post will get to work on Scriptures used to support women in church leadership.

Madigan and Osiek have this to say about the titles of “deacon” and “deaconess”:

“The earlier title is ‘DIAKONOS’ with feminine article, already used in Rom. 16:1-2 of Phoebe…the later term DIAKONISSA appears in a datable Greek text for the first time in Canon nineteen of Nicaea. It is used in the Latin translation of the Didascalia, but neither the date of the translation nor the term used in the original Greek is known. It also appears in the Apostolic Constitutions, usually thought to date to the late fourth century (AC 3.11.3, a passage independent of the Didascalia)…from then on, both terms are used in both literature and inscriptions, with no perceivable difference of time or place, and in Latin another version, DIACONA, comes into use…apart from the small samples from any particular region there is also the difficulty that a number of inscriptions abbreviate the title of office to ‘DI,’ ‘DIAK,’ or something similar, which could be either DIAKONOS or DIAKONISSA” (Kevin Madigan and Carolyn Osiek, “Ordained Women in the Early Church: A Documentary History,” page 8).

The term for Phoebe used in Romans 16:1-2 is “diakonos.” The term in the actual Greek text is “diakonon,” but this is the accusative form of the noun “diakonos.” The accusative case “on” in the Greek shows the reader the direct object of the sentence.

Let’s read Romans 16:1-2 together:

“I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant (diakonon) of the church which is at Cenchrea; that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and that you help her in whatever matter she may have need of you; for she herself has also been a helper of man, and of myself as well” (Rom. 16:1-2, NASB).

The word “diakonon” there is the direct object of the sentence. The accusative case of the word (“on”) matches the ending of her name (“Phoiben” in the Greek, ending in an “n,” called a “nun” as the Greek alphabet). Paul is commending or introducing Phoebe to the church at Rome. It is as if Paul is standing before them when this epistle is being read, and he is literally HANDING OFF PHOEBE, or bringing her up before the congregation.

Phoebe here is labeled as a “diakonos,” which matches the term used in 1 Timothy 3 to refer to the office of “deacon.” A number of other terms are used throughout early church history, such as “diakonissa,” which was a term often used in the churches of the East to refer to female deacons. Although these terms became interchangeable, I praise God that Phoebe was given the original title. It seems as if the alternative term “diakonissa” was invented to separate women and their diaconate from that of the men.

“In the literature, the same person can be called by different titles by different persons. John Chrysostom calls his aunt Sabiniana a ‘DIAKONOS,’ while Palladius calls her a ‘DIAKONISSA.’ John’s friend Olympias is consistently a ‘DIAKONOS.’ Even in some of the latest canonical texts, both terms are in use in both the West and East (e.g. the Councils of Orange, 441 CE, and of Epaon, 517 CE and the Life of Saint Radegunda, ca. 600 CE; DIACONA; epitaph of Theodora of Ticini, 539 CE; DIACONISSA; Justinian’s regulations use both terms, once switching between them in the same article, ‘Novellae 6.6). We can only conclude on the basis of present evidence that THE TERMS WERE INTERCHANGEABLE. English translations tend to be inexact about this, assuming that ‘deaconess’ is the appropriate for a woman (even sometimes for Phoebe in Rom. 16:1!). In the translations in this book, we have tried to keep the difference straight by rendering ‘deacon’ for DIAKONOS or DIACONA, ‘deaconess’ for DIAKONISSA—and noting the uncertainty for the abbreviation DIAK-“ (8).

As Madigan and Osiek report, they clearly designate the different uses of the titles and do not mingle them together. So as we go through their research, we will see times when “diakonos” is used, and times when “diakonissa” is used (as well as the abbreviations). Only the tomb inscriptions at times will be of benefit for us.

Well, what about presbyters? What I am about to write, I imagine, will shock you as much as it shocked me to read it:

“Heresiologists like Tertullian, Ephiphanius, and Augustine want to give the impression that only in these ‘deviant’ groups (such as the Montanists and Priscillianists movements) are such practices (as presbyters) done. YET THE EXISTING EVIDENCE CANNOT BE CONFINED TO MEMBERS OF THESE MOVEMENTS. Documents like the SYNOD OF DIMES and the LETTER OF GELASIUS are addressed to their own people and BISHOPS...what can be said with certainty is that THE CLAIM THAT WOMEN HAVE NEVER FUNCTIONED AS PRESBYTERS IN THE ‘ORTHODOX’ CHURCH IS SIMPLY UNTRUE” (9).

That’s right: women served as presbyters in ORTHODOX CHURCHES! It seems as if today’s church is so far removed from the churches of the second and third centuries AD; yet and still, the practice of the early church was more non-discriminatory than the Church of Christ is today! If you ask me, I think we need to go back to ancient practice! They should dictate for us what church polity is, not the other way around…
For those who want to read more information on deaconesses, I suggest the following site:

In addition, you can view some of the work in Madigan and Osiek’s book at googlebooks. Here’s the site to go to:

It should put you right up to Madigan and Osiek’s chapter on “Women Presbyters.” We will study more on women in the days to come. For now, happy reading!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Two Corrected Assumptions

To start out this study of women in the early church, I thought I’d begin with an appetizer. For a few days, we’re gonna look at some preliminary issues regarding the subject of women in the early church. Don’t worry though: by the end of next week, I’m gonna start publishing information here at the site regarding the evidence of women and their positions in the church. For those of you who wanna read the book from which I’m gonna post, it’s called “Ordained Women in the Early Church: A Documentary History” by Kevin Madigan and Carolyn Osiek. I highly recommend it for all those who want to arm themselves against the complementarian establishment. There are other good books that I will recommend in the days ahead.

There are several assumptions that Kevin Madigan and Carolyn Osiek report were disproven through their archaeological research, but I will focus on the two major assumptions. The others will be discovered as I progress through their findings.

“In sifting through the evidence, we have found several frequent assumptions proven false. The first is that THERE WERE NEVER WOMEN OFFICEHOLDERS IN THE WEST. While the preponderance of evidence for female deacons is clearly in the East, the West is not without its references, often conciliar prohibitions, which must be presumed to have been enacted TO CONTROL OR SUPPRESS ACTUAL PRACTICE…one of the intriguing factors is that THE EVIDENCE FOR WOMEN PRESBYTERS IS GREATER IN THE WEST THAN IN THE EAST” (“Ordained Women in the Early Church,” page 3).

So Western civilization has its share of ordained women, eh? It’s true. Madigan and Osiek’s work, over the next several weeks (maybe months), is gonna show us that women served in leadership positions even in the West during the first centuries of the early church. Complementarians would like the world to believe that women have never served in such offices; but this duo tells us something totally different from what we may have known all these years.

Not only have women served in leadership, but they even served as DEACONS and PRESBYTERS! Complementarians flip out in today’s world about women serving as deacons; but they would have a heart attack and end up in a coma if they knew that women actually served in the office of presbyter. I’ve read this book, so let me give you a juicy piece of information in advance: as presbyters, there were women in some churches who were actually performing duties AT THE ALTAR, operating as ordained clergymen! Church councils, however, would go on and become their enemy, as they would constantly threaten churches to stop letting women serve at the altar. However, in defiant rebellion of ecclesiastical councils, churches would continue letting women serve at the altar in their church services. Despite the somewhat complementarian world of the early centuries AD, there were some men in places of leadership who didn’t feel intimidated by serving alongside of women. There were even some church fathers who didn’t feel intimidated by them, as well!!

What is the second assumption corrected by Madigan and Osiek’s work?

“A second false assumption is that ALL WOMEN OFFICEHOLDERS WERE CELIBATE, either virgin or widowed. Again, the majority of the canonical, literary, and epigraphical evidence does suggest this, and many of these women were buried in solitary graves (Athanasia at Delphi and Tetradia in Thessaly were determined to keep the graves solitary by threatening eschatological punishment to anyone else!), or some with other ascetics (Posidonia, Theodosia). Many others were buried in family groupings say nothing about the marital status of the female officeholder. But there are exceptions and ambiguities. It seems that in some times and places, this was not such a hard and fast rule. Many had surviving children, but may have been ordained as widows” (3).

There were exceptions to the rule that women were either single or widowed. There were those who were married when they died, such as “the presbyter Leta in Calabria…it was her husband who commemorated her” (3).

In my next post, I will provide some information on the titles of women who served as either deacons or presbyters in the early church. Stay tuned…

Ordained Women in the Early Church

I realize that I’ve spent some time away from the blog here at “Men and Women in the Church.” I ask my readership to forgive me. In case you haven’t heard at the site, I own another blog here at blogspot called “The Center for Theological Studies.” There’s a link here at the top of the page. For those of you who wanna read more stuff (albeit things not pertaining to the women debate—but other theological issues), go to the CTS site. When you don’t hear from me here at “Men and Women” for a few days, it’s probably because I’ve been working at CTS. Check there from time to time to continue reading me even when this blog doesn’t have anything new on it.

Now, I wanna announce to my readership here that I’m starting a new series at the site, called “Ordained Women in the Early Church.” Some months ago in a random post (can’t remember it now), I introduced you to the book called “Ordained Women in the Early Church: A Documentary History,” by Kevin Madigan and Carolyn Osiek. Well, it’s been six months since I read the book, and I figure that, now, since my 100th post has already been written (our very first 100!), I would get started on something new. As usual, I’m back to arm my readers with more and more evidence against the prevailing “patriarchal” culture that insists that the idea of ordained women in leadership is novel.

As I progress in my travel through the book (again), I will note examples of real women who served in various offices in the early church. There are number of other surprises the book offers, so stick around to read the exciting information regarding roles of women in early church history.

As you know, I am currently in Seminary, a soon-to-be fourth-year Master of Divinity student in Christian Apologetics. I am studying everyday to be able to learn and defend what I believe. Although I believed my degree would prepare me to meet the unbeliever, I think my degree has also prepared me to, in some way, reform the Church of Christ herself.

For now, let’s just say that there’s a possibility that most of you have never even read of actual evidence to support the idea of women in any leadership role in the early church. Well, buckle your seat belts, folks—it’s gonna be a long but fascinating ride!

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Son of Temporary Obedience

I am still focusing on the idea of the subordination of the Trinity, where the Son is below the Father. I discussed last time that the concept of subordination of the Son to the Father WAS NOT a concept that can be properly used to form the guidelines regarding men and women in leadership. Whenever the Son submitted to His Father, the analogy was used in regards to MUTUAL SUBMISSION of the believers in the body of Christ—not of the wife to the husband.

This is not the only theological problem with Son subordination. Rebecca Merrill
Groothuis writes more:

“Hebrews 5:7-8 states, ‘Son though he was, he LEARNED OBEDIENCE’ while He was on earth in the flesh, and God heard his prayers ‘because of his reverent submission.’ Since this was the first time the Son needed to be obedient to the Father, he had to learn how to do it. It was NOT until his earthly incarnation that the Son ‘BECAME OBEDIENT’ and ‘LEARNED OBEDIENCE.’ There is NO INDICATION OF AN ETERNAL ORDER of the Son’s obedience to the Father’s authority” (Rebecca Merrill Groothuis, “Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity Without Hierarchy,” page 331).

If the Son had ALWAYS BEEN SUBORDINATE to the Father, there would have been no need to “learn” obedience. If a child is yours, they don’t have to LEARN obedience when they’re 12 years old. Now, they might have to be disciplined for their disobedience, but they will know how to obey—they will know what is acceptable behavior in mom’s eyes and what isn’t acceptable behavior.

The fact that the complementarian would use this shows their desire to “force” eternal subordination on egalitarianism and ecclesiology. But the surprising thing is that EVEN CHILDREN must one day grow up…and so must complementarian thought.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

That's ALL?

Before I get started, let me take time to introduce everyone to the other links on my site. There are two of them: one goes to the American Institute for Faith and Culture, and the other is to my second blog, “The Center for Theological Studies” (CTS). CTS was created by my partner on the site, Byron M. Gillory III, as a blog that would tackle Biblical issues, stuff pertaining to what Christians believe about God, ourselves, the Bible, Christ, and eschatology—the study of the last things. If you take a trip to the site sometime, you’ll find that Byron has placed an article on there about Spinoza and miracles. All of you should read it sometime…

CTS is a part of the American Institute for Faith and Culture. This institute was founded by Byron, and I am a department head of the institute—as CTS demonstrates, I head up the theological studies department. I’ve posted some of my work from this site on CTS as well. This summer, having time to study the Arminian/Calvin debate, I’ve had time to study other theological issues. The Arminian/Calvin debate will probably be the biggest issue of the summer at CTS—but, stay tuned…others are sure to pop up out of nowhere.

Now, to Byron (my “adopted” brother, my twin in all the world): some time back, Byron and I began to discuss the issue of women in ministry. He talked to a professor who said that, while most complementarians don’t believe that 1 Timothy 2 is discussing women not having spiritual authority in the church, they seem to hang on to the view itself. Why? “Because of the Trinity.”

That’s IT? The TRINITY? I mean, I can understand someone taking 1 Timothy 2 out of context, coming to some warped conclusions about women. People have done that for years? But the TRINITY? That’s the ONLY thing keeping complementarians from changing sides?

It seems to be true. And that’s the reason why I applaud Rebecca Merrill Groothuis for tackling this subject in the book, “Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity Without Hierarchy.” If egalitarians are gonna change the world, one book at a time (and one blog post at a time), then they are gonna have to tackle the issue of the subordination of the Son to the Father.

“Support for the claim that woman’s unequal role does not bespeak woman’s unequal being is often sought in the analogy of the relationship of God the Son to God the Father. It is argued that the Father and the Son are “EQUAL IN BEING” yet IN ALL THINGS AND THROUGH ALL ETERNITY they relate to one another according to a HIERARCHY OF AUTHORITY AND OBEDIENCE; thus the analogy of the ‘eternal functional subordination’ within the Trinity illustrates and vindicates woman’s permanent and comprehensive subordination to man’s authority” (Rebecca Merrill Groothuis, “Discovering Biblical Equality,” page 329).

The analogy of the Father and Son is wrong on a few accounts, but I’m gonna spend time examining one particular piece of evidence against the concept: context.

If the relationship of the Father and Son was an example of how men and women relate to each other, don’t you think Scripture would have mentioned it? Yet, it’s funny that Scripture NEVER uses the Father-Son relationship in that way. Whenever the relationship is mentioned, it is mentioned CONCERNING MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH and their interactions with one another.

To see this concept, look at Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians:

“Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus: TO ALL THE SAINTS IN CHRIST JESUS WHO ARE IN PHILIPPI, including the overseers and deacons” (Phil. 1:1, Holman Christian Standard Bible).

Paul’s writing this letter to ALL THE SAINTS, everybody, not just some people. This letter is not written to JUST women, where Paul could say, “Submit to the male leaders, as Christ submitted to the Father.” No! Paul is writing to all the believers.

And it is to the church that Paul gives the analogy of the Son to the Father:

“Everyone should look out not [only] for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider EQUALITY with God AS SOMETHING TO BE USED FOR HIS OWN ADVANTAGE. Instead He emptied Himself by ASSUMING THE FORM OF A SLAVE, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming OBEDIENT to the point of death—even to death on a cross. For this reason God also HIGHLY EXALTED HIM and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow----of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth----and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 3:4-11, HCSB).

Here Paul is talking about the believers to put others before themselves. And who is the example? Christ. Why is Christ the example? Because, even though He was God (and is God), He didn’t let His EQUALITY with the Father keep Him from submitting to His Father. Instead, He SUBORDINATED Himself for a time, becoming human (human flesh being, of course, “a little lower than the angels,” Psalm 8); and, if that wasn’t enough, He even went to the cross in OBEDIENCE to His Father. As a result, the Father exalted Him for His obedience and gave Him the ONLY NAME by which people can be saved.

What we see is the Son doing what the Father demanded—and obeying, received exaltation. However, this exaltation wasn’t just for the Son—it was also “to the glory of God the Father.” The Father started the process of redeeming the world by sending His Son; the Son went in obedience to the Father to die for the world and, while on earth, EXALTED the Father; in return, the Father EXALTS the Son and all of this brings glory to the Father.

Notice that Christ, as the SON of God, is elevated as the example for the church, the SONS of God. By following Christ’s example, the church would be acting as SONS of the Most High God—and the Father would exalt them and bless them in due time.
Peter gives similar words to the Jewish believers in the Dispersion in his First Letter. Here, Peter is telling those in the church how they should conduct themselves in their relationships with one another:

“And all of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, because He cares about you” (1 Peter 5:5-7, HCSB).

Peter tells the believers to humble themselves UNDER the hand of God. Sounds familiar to Paul’s words in Philippians, right? Paul told the believers there that Christ “HUMBLED HIMSELF…” (Phil. 2:8). He also told the Philippian believers to “in humility consider others as more important than” themselves (2:3). Paul focuses on the exaltation of Christ in Philippians (pointing to the exaltation of the believers there due to humility), while Peter focuses on God exalting the believers in the Dispersion.

The language of submission and exaltation has to do with all the believers there, NOT a division of men and women. The idea that these passages deal with men and women is ridiculous. In addition, notice that the ONLY submission stressed prior to the general submission in 1 Peter 5 is the submission of the younger believers to the older believers. There are NO genders mentioned here.

So, what analogy applies to husbands and wives? The analogy of Christ and the CHURCH in Ephesians 5:

“Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord, for the husband is head of the wife as also Christ is head of the church. He is the Savior of the body. Now as the church submits to Christ, so wives should [submit] to their husbands in everything” (Ephesians 5:22-24, HCSB).

I want us to take time to examine something here so that we don’t get misled. The reason why wives are to submit to their husbands is because THE CHURCH SUBMITS TO CHRIST. But why isn’t the analogy of the Father and Son used IF subordination of the wife is what’s in mind here?

The answer is that subordination IS NOT the idea here. The idea in mind here is submission. Submission is not the same as subordination.

According to Byron (mentioned above), the only thing keeping complementarians intact is the Father-Son relationship in the Trinity. But the problem is that whenever this relationship is discussed, it’s used in regards to members of the body of Christ, not the husband and wife—and certainly not with discussions of men and women.

Rather, when men and women are discussed, Adam and Eve are used (1 Tim. 2 and 1 Corinthians 11); and in 1 Corinthians 11, the old order of birth (man before woman) is replaced with woman before man.

To the complementarian I say, CONSIDER YOUR CONTEXT! If this is all they have, then they have nothing at all…