Rod Thomas and his use of Ephesians 5: 22-33 and 1 Timothy 3

Gospel calls for solidarity with opponents of women bishops - wow - what a huge claim to make.

Ephesians 5: 22-33 and 1 Timothy 3

Do these verses really prohibit women bishops?
What if a female bishop is not a wife, what if she is single?

22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30for we are members of his body. 31"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."[b] 32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Interestingly, he doesn't include Eph 5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

1 Tim 3
1Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer,[a] he desires a noble task. 2Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5(If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) 6He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap.

8Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.

11In the same way, their wives[b] are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.

12A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. 13Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.

14Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, 15if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God's household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. 16Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great:
He[c] appeared in a body,[d]
was vindicated by the Spirit,
was seen by angels,
was preached among the nations,
was believed on in the world,
was taken up in glory.

The Greek is

faithful the saying if anyone (not aner or andres) supervision is craving ideal work they are desiring; must then the supervisor irreprehensible to be…

There is no Greek word for “male” found there and the passage speaks of supervisory roles not specifically the role of a bishop. The phrase “of one wife the husband”, simply meant “a faithful spouse” and is found on the graves of both men and women. It would have been presumed that women of the day were faithful and so Paul did not need to remind them that this should be the case but men in supervisory roles would have needed to exhibit faithfulness in their relationships, since men at that time had many affairs without this seeming untoward.

Rod Thomas in insisting that it is a gospel imperative that young evangelicals stand firm against women bishops is doing the right thing if it is important to him to be loyal to the broad sweep of the church's history and its interpretation of the bible which has been patriarchal. He is wrong if he thinks that his point of view really has more biblical validity. Surely, evangelicals place the authority of scripture more highly than the church's customs but it would seem, in his case, they will pick and choose when it suits them.


Tim Goodbody said...

Hi Rachel,
The trouble with the Reform approach, as I think you see in your conclusion, is that the three-fold order of Anglican ministry simply does not match the pattern of ministry in the new Testament. We make a grave error if we assume for example that the new testament teaches that bishops are senior to presbyters or deacons. Some churches it seems had presbyters and others had overseers, as Michael Green has pointed out.
I believe that what we have today is a God given pattern of ministry but how we use it has to be worked out with the help of the witness of all of Scripture, not just isolated verses. You are right they do pick and choose. As Don Carson once said (actually he said it in a discussion of the Toronto Blessing but it still fits), we don't all greet each other with a holy kiss Romans 16,16) so we know that we do not take every verse completely literally!

Rachel said...

Good point Tim.

We need more holy kisses and less 'holy dismissals'!


Rachel said...

See http://blog.cbeinternational.org/2009/02/every-glass-ceiling-is-broken/


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A little background reading so we might mutually flourish when there are different opinions