1Ti 3:11 Who are the “women” that Paul refers to in 1Ti 3:11? Note Paul’s progression in describing the qualifications for the Church’s ministers from the first words in each of 1Ti 3:2, 8 and 11. How do the qualifications he mentions for these women in 1Ti 3:11 parallel those he gave for men in 1Ti 3:8-9? Would he have listed such qualifications if the women he refers to were only the deacons’ wives who would not be ministering in a capacity similar to that of the deacons? On the other hand, given that God created woman to be a helper to man (Gen 2:18) which women in the church would have tended to be best suited to assist the deacons in their ministry to the physical needs of the saints, especially as it related to the needs of widows and other women? While it is clear from Paul’s words here that women performed the role of a deacon in ministering to the physical needs of others (see also Rom 16:1), what indications do we have that they were not to assume the office of a deacon? See 1Ti 3:12, 2:12. Note: “malicious gossips” in 1Ti 3:11 is the same word used for “devil” in 1Ti 3:6-7; what does this teach us about the seriousness of gossip and the need to guard our tongues? See also Prov 13:3, James 1:26, 3:2-12, 1 Pet 3:10, Ps 141:3. What does it mean to be “temperate”? See 1 Thess 5:6-8, 1 Pet 4:7, 5:8. To what physical form of intemperance are women especially drawn? See 1Ti 2:9 and note that the NASB “discreetly” there (KJV = “sobriety”) is synonymous to the Greek word translated here as temperate. To what spiritual form of intemperance are they especially prone? See 1Ti 2:11-12. Given the susceptibility of the first woman to be deceived even before the fall (see 1Ti 2:14), as well as her cursed nature to rebel against her traditional role as a helper to her husband (see Gen 3:16), what is the importance for those women who minister within the church to guard against the great spiritual intemperance of the present age? In what things does Paul say here in 1 Tim 3:11 such women must be faithful?
1Ti 3:12-13 What does 1Ti 3:12 remind us are the two most important ways a man can prepare himself for ministry to God’s church? If a man is not a good manager of his own household finances, should he be entrusted with the distribution of the offerings of God’s people to the poor? Consider again the high qualifications necessary to serve others in God’s Church with little or no material reward; what does Paul say is the benefit to God’s ministers who serve or “deacon” well? See 1Ti 3:13. By “high standing” (KJV = “good degree”) does he mean a prestige of position after the manner of the world or an ecclesiastical rank as it came to be understood in the Roman Catholic church? What does he mean? See Mark 9:33-35, 10:42-45. In what ways would it be natural for a church to seek out overseers from among the deacons? Might one who has been found faithful in the lesser ministry of physical food be counted upon to be faithful in the greater ministry of spiritual food? Should we then assume that the office of deacon is a necessary “step” towards the office of overseer/bishop? Confer again the example of the apostles in Acts 6:2. What does Paul mean by the great confidence (NASB) or boldness (KJV) in the faith that those who “deacon” well obtain? See the example of Stephen and Philip, two of the first deacons, in Acts 6:8-15, 7:51-53, 8:5-7, 12, 26-30, 35-36.
On a Christian Woman’s Spiritual Temperance
To be temperate means to be sober and alert, watchful. Thus it is important that those women who would faithfully minister within their proper domain be moderate in their behavior and not given to spiritual drunkenness. For as important as it is for the overseer and deacon to be sober from the intoxicating wine of false doctrine (1 Tim 3:2-3, 8), it is perhaps even more important for the woman who ministers in the church (1 Tim 3:11). For as we recall from 1 Timothy 2, one of the reasons Paul gave for forbidding a woman to teach or have authority over a man was because of her propensity to be deceived and thereby mislead others. And although Paul forbade that a woman should teach men he in fact commends her to teach other women in Titus 2:3 where he also makes clear what is to be the content of such teaching:
Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips (devils), nor enslaved to much wine (i.e., sober and temperate), teaching what is good, that they may encourage (literally soberize) the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible (sober), pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored.
Let us take heed to understand that women, who even before the fall were easily deceived (through their mother Eve, cf. again 2:14), and then after the fall were cursed to rebel against their traditional role as wives and mothers (Gen 3:16), are very susceptible to the intoxicating effects of those false doctrines that appeal to their fallen nature. For just like the inebriating effects of alcohol such doctrines impair their spiritual inhibitions so they are emboldened to engage in conduct they would otherwise consider unseemly. As so many have done today in the great spirit of drunkenness poured out by the women’s “liberation” movement, they begin justifying their cursed nature and leading others to do the same, thus upsetting whole households (Tit 1:11), whether physical (meaning the traditional family at home) or spiritual (meaning the family of God which is, or at least is supposed to be, the Church). For in those churches who have become drunk with the maddening wine of the harlot’s adulteries (Rev 18:3) and joined in her immorality so as to become one of her daughters (i.e., a harlot church, cf. Rev 17:5) such women are emboldened still further to step fully outside of their rightful sphere of ministry and begin teaching and having authority over the men against the divine order and explicit commands of Scripture. Meanwhile, the men in those haunts are loath to resist, having themselves imbibed deeply of the harlot’s fornications to become drunk with deception and unfaithful to their role of headship. And so the propensity for error to spread is increased, and in time will certainly overtake them, so that the curse warned of in the Scriptures will be fulfilled:
O My people! Their oppressors are children (i.e., not mature in the faith), and women rule over them. O My people! Those who guide you (the women who rule over them) lead you astray, and confuse the direction of your paths.
Let us then take heed to Paul’s words here about the qualifications necessary for those ladies who would serve as ministers within the church. Let them in no measure be given to the intemperance of our age that would step outside of the proper bounds God has set for their ministry. But let them be faithful in all things, especially encouraging other women in their roles as wives and mothers and homemakers. For considering the fruit that has been born out of today’s drunken dash to the contrary, it is clear how very important is the ministry of such women to the health and strength of the Church.