Women in Church Leadership: Rebuilding Ruins
Gender equality will be key to seeing Renaissance in the Church and in the world. In session 6 of Renaissance Conference, Katia shares her heart on equality for women in ministry. For more on gender equality in the Church, read her blog on the subject, Is God Sexist?
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Katia: You know, the word renaissance is such a fun one. We’ve talked about it loads and loads already. I wanna bring a little different angle and definition of it. It does mean reawakening, it means rebirth, it also means a recovery of interest in something that has been lost or forgotten. And that’s the angle I wanna look at this morning. I wanna give you a little bit of a warning here. What I’m gonna speak on today is something that I’ve never spoken of before. It is a topic that I’ve been asked to speak on and have actively avoided throughout my ministry time. It is a topic that I’ve told Jesus that I really never wanted to speak on. It is something that I am trying to model with Julian in everything that we do in life, but it is something that I’ve never wanted to preach on.
And yet, here I am. And I felt Jesus speaking to me in the run-up to this conference, speaking to me about a shift in my own mandate, and the shift that’s coming to the body of Christ. And so today is maybe not gonna be the stereotypical revival conference preach. I hope it will bring revival because I believe that it can and it should. But I wanna ask you to extend faith with me this morning because me being up here right now is stretching my faith beyond what you would believe. But I’m gonna ask you to partner your faith with mine. And we’re gonna do something that could be really crazy, but it’s fun if we do it together with Holy Spirit.
I’m gonna start in Isaiah 61. And this is just gonna set the scene for us. It’s already been read part of the passage that I’m gonna read. “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.” The spirit of the Lord is power, and sometimes He pounces on us in a way that we don’t expect. That’s okay.
“He’s anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound. To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God. To comfort all who mourn. To grant to those who mourn in Zion, to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes. The oil of gladness instead of mourning. The garment of praise instead of a faint spirit.” Jesus fulfilled all of that. “That they may be called oaks of righteousness.” Who’s the they? It’s us. It’s those who are in Christ. It’s those who have been set free by Jesus that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. You were planted to glorify Jesus wherever you go. They, not Jesus, they, shall build up the ancient ruins. They shall raise up the former devastations. They, you and I, shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.
When I was praying about this conference, I felt God speak to me that He wanted to do something that would shift ancient strongholds. He wanted to do something that would deal with something that has been taking root for many, many, many generations. I felt Him speak to me that the time is now in the body of Christ to bring a shift, to rebuild ancient ruins, to rebuild devastations of many, many, many generations. It’s not because we, as a generation, are special, it’s because God, in His wisdom, is so gracious to us that He is giving us the privilege in this day, in this time, in this season, to rebuild some of that which has been destroyed.
I wanna tell you, if you’re living for revival and when you say that word what you mean is goosebumps, you’re living for too little. If you come to conferences so that you can go, “Ooh, ah,” at all the beautiful things Holy Spirit does and then go home and live your ordinary existence, you are settling for far too little. I wanna tell you, revival is not about your goosebumps. Revival is about God coming and birthing something new in you that will shape the culture of the generation that you live in and the generations to come.
And so, we’re gonna look together at some of the ancient truths that have been built and then destroyed. And we’re gonna adventure together this morning of what it looks like, what it means for you and I to start rebuilding cities that have long stood in devastation. We’re not talking about building with bricks. This is a picture here, a picture of a blueprint that was created that was beautiful, that then was destroyed. This is a picture of truth, of a reality, of an experience that God purposed that was destroyed and tragically, some aspects of that still lie dormant in brokenness today. And it’s up to you and I as the people of God to stand up and say, “I will not accept to live in ruins anymore. I will not stand to see the beauty that God created, the beauty that God purposed lie in destruction anymore. I will give myself to see that beautiful city restored to even greater glory than what was originally built.”
Because as Eric said so beautifully, Genesis 1 is our blueprint, Revelation 21 is our trajectory. And so what God is wanting to do is not rebuild Genesis 1, just there, but actually to build on Genesis 1 in so much glory into the trajectory of where we’re going for Revelation 21. And that is the privilege that you and I have. You are living for too little if goosebumps is the high point of your Christianity.
You know, we talk about changing the world and that’s become such a phrase that’s used so often that it loses its power because we think it’s just a catchphrase, it’s just when people wanna have prophesy over you something nice, they say, “You were created to change the world” And we kind of… It’s lost its meaning. But you were created to change the world. That’s why you are on planet earth. Everything about you was designed so that you would shape the reality around you so that it would look like heaven. That’s why you’re here. If you wanna ask me about what your destiny is, if you wanna ask me about what your calling is, I’m gonna tell you it’s simply this, “Go and change the world.” That’s what you were made for. We were made to rebuild the ancient ruins.
Hmm. Okay, we’re gonna base ourselves in Acts 2 to help us figure out what it looks like to rebuild. Acts 2 is a section of Scripture that we…we’re so familiar with. A revival breaks out, a rebirthing of the people of God, if you like. A reawakening of a picture of what God purposed when He made humanity. It’s actually building on Genesis 1 and leading us into a trajectory at the same time, and we’re gonna pick up. So, we’ve had the moment where 120 people, both men and women, are in an upper room waiting for the Holy Spirit because Jesus told them to wait. And then they get so radically pounced on that they all look drunk. When was the last time we will looked drunk so badly that the world had to ask us “What on earth is going on? What are you taking?” But they did. They all looked drunk.
And then Peter gets up suddenly boldened by the power of the Spirit and he gives the explanation of what’s going on. And he describes what’s happening in this reawakening. He gives a picture of the purpose of what God is doing and, in fact, he uses an ancient prophecy to point out that this has been something God is intending for a long time. And in verse 17, he says…he quotes from the prophecy in the book of Joel, “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh. Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy. Your young men shall see visions and your old men shall dream dreams. Even on my male servants and my female servants. In those days, I will pour out my spirit and they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” It’s a picture of an ancient truth that was purposed. It’s a revelation of what Kingdom is to look like. It’s an exposing of what we should expect when we talk about revival, and rebirth, and reawakening.
And there’s four things that I see in these verses that marks out what kingdom life, kingdom revival, kingdom renaissance looks like, and it’s these four things. And we’ll only focus really on one. But firstly, kingdom life looks like being marked by the Spirit. Holy Spirit is poured out. That is the promise of God on all flesh.
Secondly, it’s marked by equality. And we will spend most of our time on that today. It is a Holy Spirit outbreak on every man and every woman on the old and young, on servants and free. It’s Holy Spirit breaking out everywhere because kingdom life is about equality, and we’re gonna look at why in just a moment. It’s a kingdom marked by signs and wonders. You know you were created for the impossible. If our lives look to possible, we’re not living in the fullness of what God intended for us. You were created to play in the impossible realm. Everything about kingdom life is touched by signs and wonders.
And lastly, it’s a kingdom marked by salvation. If we settle for feeling all gooey inside and pat ourselves on the back because we’re part of this kingdom, oh, shame other people didn’t get in. We don’t understand our Father’s heart at all if that’s our heart. If your salvation is enough for you, you don’t understand your Father’s heart. I have a wonderful boy and a wonderful girl, and if I lost my boy and my girl said to me, “Oh, shame. He’s lost, but you’ve got me. Isn’t it great that I’m here?” She would not understand my heart at all. That’s part of the point of the story of The Lost Son in Luke 15. The older brother isn’t first. If he truly was marked by the heart of the father, that older son would be scouring every neighborhood on planet earth to bring back his younger brother, but he didn’t have the father’s heart. It’s a kingdom marked by the Spirit, a kingdom marked by equality, a kingdom marked by signs and wonders, and a kingdom marked by salvation.
Let’s look at the equality. You know, we read this prophecy and we so often focus on the mode of revelation that it’s talking about, “Oh, there’s gonna be prophecies. There’s gonna be dreams, there’s gonna be visions. It’s awesome. And that’s what we focus on. I can promise you that’s not what the hearers of the day we’re focusing on. They weren’t focusing on the mode of revelation, they were focusing on the people who were allowed to have the revelation because it was scandalous and it was offensive in the day. Even when Joel prophesied it, and in Acts 2, the hearers would be thinking, “What on earth are you talking about? This does not fit my worldview.” Because Peter is talking to primarily Jews. And he starts off saying, “This is what God promised, I will pour out my spirit on all flesh.”
It’s a kingdom of equality where racism and nationalism have no part to play. I wanna say, just as a caveat before this, God loves diversity. No part of what I’m saying today denies the beauty of diversity, but what the kingdom is about is celebrating diversity whilst totally allowing for the rights, the worth, the equality of authority of every single person, whatever camp of diversity they come from within the kingdom. And so, when God says, “I will pour out my spirit on all flesh,” the Jews who were listening, that nationalistic pride of the Jews is saying, “Wait a second, God belongs to me. I’m a Jew. The Holy Spirit is my portion.” They weren’t thinking, “Oh, wow. We all get to prophesy.” They’re thinking, “Am I hearing you correctly? That you’re trying to include gentiles into this promise?” And they’re offended immediately. But racism and nationalism have no part in the kingdom. I’m an Armenian ethnically.
Armenians have so much nationalism, it’s hilarious. There’s so much pride. You meet an Armenian and they’ll tell you their ancestry, and they’ll tell you how we really are the original Christians because Noah’s Ark landed on Mount Ararat, which is in Armenia. “Don’t you know we’re the real people of God? Everyone else is secondary.” Some of their oldest manuscripts of the Bible are in Armenian. “So, there you go. I’m superior to all of you. I hope you know that.” There’s such a sense… I make light of it. I love being Armenian, by the way, but I do make light of it. But there is a real sense when you meet Armenians that there’s something just…we have an edge on the rest of humanity. You laugh, but I notice it in almost every nation when a move of God comes. Revival’s gonna come to South Africa and it’s gonna come through South Africa and the world will wake up and notice South Africa. I love South Africa, but what I wanna tell you, if revival breaks out here, it has nothing to do with South Africans. It has everything to do with the grace of God.
Racism and nationalism have no part in the kingdom. God loves the nations. He loves the different colors. He made it so, so beautifully like a tapestry showing His manifold, His multicolored, His multifaceted wisdom but I wanna tell you, primarily, you and I belong to the Kingdom of God, not to the nation that we’re born in. And we’ve gotta be really, really careful that our Christianity, and our Christian experience, and our revival experience doesn’t tip into a national sense of pride as if our nation is the hope of all of the world, rather than understanding that it is the grace of God and the goodness of Jesus, that is what’s gonna transform the nations. Spirit will be poured out on all flesh. We’re gonna skip the next sentence because that’s where we’re gonna spend most of our time. “But your young men will see visions. Your old men will dream dreams.” I’ve heard so many sermons on why the young men see the visions and the old men see the dreams, and honestly, I think it’s irrelevant. We’re missing the point. The point is that ageism has no part in this kingdom.
We talk about, and you’ll probably have heard this phrase, that children don’t have a junior Holy Spirit. Absolutely right. And the elderly don’t have an elderly Holy Spirit. Sometimes we relegate the old and the young in our communities like they’re either too immature or past their sell-by-date. Listen, if you’re still on planet earth, there is still ruins for you to rebuild. There’s still effect that you are created to bring in the nations. As a community of God, we’ve gotta stop treating the older community like, “Oh, sweet. Okay, let’s get on with the real stuff.” If you have a pulse, you better be getting on with the real stuff. Yes, doctor. “Even on my male servants and female servants.” Do you know how offensive that would be in the day? It’s talking about the slaves. It’s talking about the lowest in the class. It’s talking about the people who were ignored, the people no one would say hello to because they didn’t need hellos. They just needed instructions for work they needed to do.
Classism has no part in this kingdom. No part. And these verses are a renaissance, a reawakening of original purpose laid out in Genesis 1. And we’ll look at that in a moment. Where it’s telling us about the equality of worth and value and authority in the kingdom. And asking us how you and I, we will rebuild that ancient ruin. Because it’s the purpose of God that’s long laid dormant. And I know there are so many in this room… And I’ve been in South Africa for three years and I believe this is a timely word for this nation. This isn’t the part I’m gonna focus on, but just let’s stay here for a second.
There are so many people in this room who do so much to rebuild this ancient ruin. Who are giving themselves, and I honor you. But I wanna ask us as a community, as a people, to keep giving ourselves to this end that all men and women, no matter what class, no matter what color, no matter what age, would find themselves in a kingdom where they are honored for worth, and value, and kingdom authority. Because that is the intention of God. And if we’re not building that, then we’re settling for too little because that’s what we were made to build.
I didn’t give you the title of this sermon. I should have, I suppose. The title of this sermon is Rebuild the Ruins, stop picnicking on them. I feel like too many of us have got so comfortable with our picnic blankets amongst ruins because as long as we’re eating, and as long as we’re fine, and as long as we’ve kind of made a makeshift settlement on those ruins that serves us, it feels okay. But there is an ancient ruin that was created to be glorious and magnificent. An ancient ruin that when it is built, in its full beauty, will radiate the glorious purposes of God. And so, you’re settling for too little for yourself as well as everyone else when you picnic on a ruin.
Let’s focus on the bit that I’m most excited about. A bit that makes me just a little bit nervous. “And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.” You know, the Jews who we’re listening we’re used to the idea of men prophesying. If you kind of do a ratio of male prophets to female prophets in the Old Testament, it will tell you that the male was to be expected, the female was more rare. And so, they didn’t really have so much of an understanding that women were to be caught up in this same thing until Jesus came on the scene and radically changed perceptions.
But at this verse, “Your sons and your daughters prophesying,” is reawakening in us, is bringing a renaissance of a tree that was planted right at the beginning of time in a garden where God made male and female in beautiful equality. And this verse is telling us there is something beautiful that has long since laid dormant for generations, that has been a ruin for generations. But it’s time. It’s time to start rebuilding. It’s time. It’s time to put the walls of this ancient ruin back together again. Because until we do, until the nations see the sons and the daughters of God rising up in full authority, we will not manifest all of kingdom glory on the earth. It is must, it is a necessity. This isn’t an optional extra. And I wanna tell you, this is not a women’s issue. This is a church kingdom mandate, and we have to listen to what Scripture is saying. We’re gonna look at Genesis 1 because some of you were looking terrified, more terrified than I feel inside. That’s okay. But we’re gonna look at Genesis 1 together. Feel free to flick there.
Goosebumps is aiming far too low, guys. Let’s start rebuilding. Genesis 1. We’re gonna look at verse 26. “And then God said, let us make man in our image.” The word man is actually Adam because Adam is both a name in Hebrew, depending on how it’s written, but it actually is primarily firstly the word for mankind. “Let us make mankind. Let us make humanity in our image, after our likeness. Let us give them dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens, over the livestock, over all the earth, over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” You were given authority over creepy crawlies. That makes me feel super happy right now.
And so, God created man in His own image. He created mankind. He created humanity in His own image. In the image of God, He created him. Male and female, He created them. We’re gonna look at lots of different things here.
Firstly, I want you to notice everything that God creates up until this point, He creates according to their kind. The fish of the sea, He created according to their kind, the animals He created according to their kind. Everything He creates, everything that’s living and breathing, He creates according to its kind. But the poem in Genesis changes when He creates mankind. Because for the first time in creation, God doesn’t create according to their kind, He creates according to His kind. You were created according to His kind. You were created supernaturally with the DNA of God in you. And when you come into believing in Jesus, and when you allow yourself to fall on His beautiful grace, and when Jesus sets up home in you, everything of the kind you were created to be wakes up in you. There’s rebirth of the supernatural DNA that is in you. I wanna tell you, you were created according to the God kind and so we get to live according to the God kind. Male and female, He created them.
You know, God is so meticulous in how He creates. It’s quite fascinating. And in each moment, in each step, He creates part of the world and then fills it with whatever is allowed to fill that space. And He creates somewhat of a hierarchy in that. Who creates the oceans and fills it with the fish? And the fish, have given this kind of space. That’s their area. And He creates the ground, and the earth, and the plants. And He creates livestock and animals to fill that space. And He’s kind of meticulously orderly creating a space, filling it, creating a space, filling it.
And then, of course, it culminates in this beautiful moment where He creates mankind, male and female in His image. And He gives them rulership over all things. And He says, “This is the earth, fill it. And Eden was this perfect little pocket on the planet, but the mandate of a man and woman was to fill the entire earth, was to subdue the entire earth so that the glory of God would cover all things. It was the mandate to bring the dominion of God everywhere, not just this pocket in Eden. Sometimes our churches are like our little pocket of Eden. We’re settling for far too little. Your mandate is the whole world.
But as He’s been so meticulous, meticulous to the point, and we’re gonna get a little bit technical here. But He was meticulous to the point of, “You have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the livestock, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” It seemed so random. Why didn’t He just say like, “You have dominion over everything.” It’s like so over the top, meticulous. But He is being meticulous on purpose because He doesn’t want there to be a misunderstanding. Funny though that there’s been a misunderstanding for so many generations. Because what’s happened is even though He was so meticulous in stating every single place of hierarchy and dominion, what we’ve done is we’ve entered in our new version of hierarchy because God must’ve forgotten, which is the moment where He told Adam and Eve, “But Adam, you’re the one really in charge, and Eve, you’re the one to follow.” As if God was interested in pointing out authority over the creepy crawlies, but He forgot to mention how one half of humanity would have authority over the other half.
How have we done this? How is it possible that we have allowed ourselves reading into this passage, something that is never mentioned, something that is, in fact, explicitly refuted in the mandate where God speaks to both men and women telling them to rule over all things. I tell you, it’s an enemy ploy, and it’s a genius one. “How to incapacitate half the body of Christ overnight.” Tell them they weren’t really made to rule. Tell them they weren’t really made to be leaders. Tell them that actually they were meant to be the followers and it was someone else to rule. And I wanna tell you, this is not about feminism because feminism doesn’t have its roots here. This is about being deeply biblical. This is about ancient ruins that come far before feminism. Sometimes people tell me that I’d been won over by culture, not so. I’ve been won over by the Bible. Should we keep going? Are you okay?
Katia: You know, women, you and I have a responsibility to hear the voice of God and do what He tells us. No excuses. I wanna stop hearing that, “Oh, I didn’t get my chance,” and “Oh, nobody told me to do this,” and “Oh, poor me.” God said to you, let’s look at it again. “Rule.” Okay, let’s look at verse 28. God said to them, plural, presumably, that means Adam and Eve. “Be fruitful and multiply.” Okay, how was Adam to do that exactly without Eve? “Fill the earth and subdue it.” Men and women have dominion, have rulership, have authority over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the heavens, over every living thing that moves on the earth. No excuses, ladies. It’s not okay to say, “Someone told me that I wasn’t allowed to rule, so I gave up on the destiny that God put on me. So I didn’t listen to the word of God spoken to over me. So I ignored the mandate that was over my life because someone else other than God told me that I wasn’t to rule.”
It’s right here. It’s in black and white. You were created to rule. And I wanna say this again, this is not a women’s issue and the reason is this. When God creates Eve, and we’ll look at beautiful way, He does it, because it’s so profound, but when God creates Eve, He’s looking for a helper, a helpmate. It’s such an unhelpful word, but it’s the word “ezer” in the Hebrew. It’s a word that is used most often throughout the Old Testament of God. It’s a word that is not at all someone who is secondary or someone who is an assistant, unless you feel that way about God, in which case, we’ve got more issues than male, female equality, but it is not about someone who just doesn’t have as much authority, but might be able to be like a substandard, “Come alongside me and given me something sometime.” No, that’s not what it was. The word ezer is someone who is much needed, an the absolute necessity, if not, your destiny will not come to pass. It is a word of strength, it is a word of power, and it is a word of absolute necessity. Listen here, men in the room. You need women to fulfill your destiny. You need women to be all that they were created to be if you are going be all that you were created to be.
This is why I say, this is not a women’s issue. This has so long been relegated to, “Oh, that’s that feminist group in the corner who just can’t be quiet and just can’t have their place in the back.” No. This is why this is an enemy ploy. Not only has it incapacitated half the body of Christ, but it’s taken the legs out from the other half too. Because Adam needed Eve. He couldn’t do his mandate without her. Not without an Eve who didn’t understand who she was, which is actually how we got the fall in the first place, so let’s not go there. But he needed an Eve who knew who she was. An Eve who was fulfilling her destiny.
And women, we need the same from our men. We need men who know who they are, who are not making apologies for being men for too long. And this is why I would wholeheartedly say I am not a feminist for too long. The feminist movement has emasculated our men, has made them feel like somehow, they need to apologize for being men. That somehow, they need to go lower so that women can be elevated. That is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about equal value and equal authority. I’m talking about men and women rising up to see the glory of God cover the Earth. I’m talking about nothing short of that. But I wanna say this. If we hadn’t let this become ruins for so long, feminism would have been unnecessary.
And the church, rather than looking down on women who are desperate to prove that they were made for more than something that the world has told them… We’ve got to start owning up to our responsibilities, the people of God, and saying, “We’ve done something so wrong. We celebrated the ruins rather than rebuild from them. We have sat and picnicked on them and make theological reasons for why God’s word isn’t really telling us what it’s telling us. And we wonder why the world is in such disrepair. And I’m speaking to both men and women here because, girls, we’ve got just as much responsibility as the men do. Male and female, He created them. He created them together to change the world. You know, so beautiful the way God presses home, how man and woman need each other. We’ve made Genesis 2 a story about male authority. So, it’s really sad because we’ve lost the beauty of what God is doing. God creates Adam first, and it’s cool. The Hebrew is playing on words all along. So, Adam, mankind, gets his name from the dust of the earth, which is adamah in Hebrew. So, there’s a play of words. Adam was made from the ground. Adam was made from the adamah.
And then there’s this kind of community-finding expedition. And God brings all the plants to Adam. Not so much all the plants. Brings all the animals to Adam and He says, “Name them” And Adam starts naming them and starts seeing what the living creatures are. And we’re told in verse 20 of Chapter 2, “The man gave names to all the livestock, to the birds, to every beast.” And we say that was Adam’s authority being proven, and, of course, because Eve wasn’t there, she’s lower in authority. It’s a little bit odd because there’s nothing in the context that talks about authority, but then very next sentence helps us what the point of that moment was. But, for Adam, there was not found a helper fit for him. The whole point of that introduction to animals and naming them wasn’t about because, listen, naming in the Bible again and again is about understanding what the purpose of that creature is. If you look throughout, there’s this naming that is a recognition a of what that thing was for.
And so, Adam sees again and again animal and he recognizes what they’re for, and he gives them names according to their purpose, and yet at the end of it, which was God’s point all along, Adam’s still left standing alone because there wasn’t a single thing in all the world that would fit the purpose of standing alongside him. It was a community-finding expedition. And why did God do it in that way? Because He was trying to show to all of humanity “You were made for each other and you need each other because you will never fulfill your destiny without one another.” And so… Then He does this beautiful thing when hunger is created in Adam’s heart, when suddenly the revelation comes to Adam, there is nothing in all of creation as beautiful as it is that is fit for me.
God puts him to sleep, and for the first time in the creation, He doesn’t build living creatures from the ground, He builds it from the man. Why? Same substance. Equal substance. If God had made from the dust, there could have been confusion. Not that there isn’t now, but there could have been confusion. Oh, maybe it was a different substance. Maybe Eve had substance akin to the livestock, not substance akin to Adam, not so. God did it in a way that would not bring confusion.
He made them of one substance. And He brings the woman to Adam. Oh, now Adam is overwhelmed because he’d seen creature after creature, after creature that was not fit to fulfill destiny with him, and suddenly he sees her and he goes, “Oh my goodness. At last. At last. After all of that searching through every creature, at last, here she is. Flesh of my flesh, and bone of my bone, absolute equality of essence, and substance, and authority, and worth, here she is. She shall be called woman.” And he didn’t name her because he had authority over her, it’s wordplay in the Hebrew. Ish is man isha is woman. It wouldn’t have worked to say Adam and Adamah because that would make her ground. It’s not an authoritative naming. It’s saying, “She’s of my substance. She’s of my substance. At last here she is, of my substance.”
We are created of equal substance, you and I, young and old, black and white, male and female, slave and free, we’re created of equal substance. I’ve heard it so many times, “Oh, no, no. We’re equal in value, not equal in authority.” Not So. He gave them both rulership. We have to rewrite the Bible if we want that to start making sense. But do you? So many are trying so hard to do it. You know, women are the single-most oppressed people group on the planet. It’s not people of color, it’s women. You know, in India and China, there’s a generation of girls that are literally missing. They don’t know what to do with the stats because the birth rate isn’t correct. It doesn’t make sense. There’s a generation of girls that have gone missing and the Church has got to own up and say, “We have preached from the ruins rather than we building them.” And we’ve got to a point where the world believes that women are worthless, women are of less substance, women are not worthy of even taking their first breaths. And you and I have got to take responsibility for that because Isaiah 61 makes it clear, it was our responsibility to rebuild the ancient ruins.
We can’t say, “Oh, but culture has done this. Oh, but it’s the principalities. Oh, but someone else did this.” No. You and I have done it. And I wanna ask you today, will we let it continue on our watch? Or will we stand up in the true essence of revival, marked by the Holy Spirit, marked by signs and wonders, marked by salvation, allowing equality to mark us so that we give the world at picture of what God intended, so we start rebuilding the ancient reality, the experience, the truth that God created? Or will we still sit on our picnic blankets and hide our heads in the sand? It’s time. It’s time.
And some of you are asking, “What about 1 Timothy 2 and Ephesians 5?” I’m so glad you asked. I’m gonna take 10 minutes to tell you why we’ve got it wrong. 1 Timothy 2. Feel free to flick there, you don’t have to. I’m gonna read not really too much of it. I wanna set the setting for you. 1 Timothy 2 is to a church in Ephesus, a church that is in big trouble. Oh, man. You read that book, and if the false teaching that was there doesn’t smack you in the face, you’re not reading it right. There was false teaching about genealogies. There was false teaching about the law. There was false teaching about marriage and food and to need to abstain from them, which really actually explains 1 Timothy 2:15. Anyway, there was false teaching everywhere. We’re told that the false teaching didn’t come from the fringes, but if you read Acts 20, it tells you that it came from the eldership, not a healthy church. Who wants to sign up to a church where the elders are heretics? Anyone?
Everyone’s like, “Why are you looking at me?” No. No, none of us. That’s the point. None of us wants to sign up to this church. Not a single person wants to be part of this church, and yet we’re told, “Oh, into this context, Paul wrote his thesis of Theology.” What rubbish. It is. It’s nonsense because no church leader on the planet would do that. No one would go into a hot, crazy, messy church where the elders were heretics, where there was false teaching everywhere and start going, “Oh, but let’s just talk about a church order and basic theology.” That’s not what church leaders do. That’s not what Luis and Edna do when they go into a church that’s in trouble. They start talking about where the trouble’s coming from. They start addressing the issues. And we know that Paul did that because in 1 Timothy 2:2, and I really don’t have time to do this fully, so you feel free to read some really good books. Should I tell you some good books to read on this in case you want? Gilbert Bilezikian, “Beyond Sex Roles.” It’s a good book. Read it. Philip B. Payne, “One in Christ,” read it. It’s a really good book. Those are two, those will keep you busy.
Man: And your book.
Woman: And your book.
Katia: And my book, I’m reading a book…writing a book on this that I will be out hopefully by the end of the year. But the point is this, it’s not about that. There’s lots of really good material. I’m not making it up, but I’m gonna do a quick summary.
1 Timothy 1 talks about all of the false teaching. And Paul’s telling Timothy, “I told you to stay in Ephesus because this church is in trouble. And I told you to stay there to combat the false teaching and to combat the false teachers. And then he says, 1 Timothy 2, “To that end, first of all, then,” the point being, if you understand the Greek, 1 Timothy 2 is talking about the false teaching from 1 Timothy 1. This is not generic teaching. He’s saying, “This is all the issues that this church have, therefore, these are the things that you need to put in practice to combat that.” Notice none of this is theology. He’s not saying these are the beliefs that you need to follow, he’s saying these are the practices that will combat the spread of false teaching. Very important distinction.
And he says, “These are the practice changes that need to happen.” Pray for all authority. Why? Because part of the false teaching was bucking authoritative figures, were saying, “I know more than you.” How do I know that? Well, 1 Timothy in the Chapter 1 talks about some of the false teachers. If I can find the verse, I might not be able to, but they wanted to teach the law without knowing what they were speaking about. So, there was people in this community who thought they knew more than they did, and they were talking about it. And they were pushing forward to teach their views.
They didn’t respect authority. And so, he says, “First of all, buck that trend by praying for those in authority. Not for those in authority in the church, in fact, for kings, for rulers. Take it wider. Give these people an understanding of how to respect authority. Then he talks about the men and he says, “Give them men this instruction that they shouldn’t fight every time they pray.” Who wants to go to that prayer meeting that keeps ending up in a brawl? This was not a healthy church. And he says to the women, “Women should start learning quietly”. Oh, the translators haven’t helped us here. It’s three times in this chapter Paul uses the word that we translate quietly. It’s strange because it’s not a word about volume, it’s a word about peace. And if you understand the false teaching that repeatedly we’re told in the six chapters brought quarrelling, division, disunity, you’ll understand that what this community needed more than anything else was a restoration of peace. And it’s translated more accurately at the beginning of the chapter where it talks about living a peaceful and quiet life. It’s the same word. It’s not about volume. Paul isn’t saying, “Don’t go and make noise as you live,” he’s saying, “Don’t bring division as you live.” And then he says, “Women should learn quietly.”
He’s not saying don’t talk, he’s saying, don’t be divisive as you learn. Why? Because in this community, women were learning divisively. They thought they knew more than they did. They were attacking their teachers. They were saying, “Let me give you my idea.” How do I know that? Because the whole context of the book is people who thought they knew more than they did. And he uses… So that’s verse 11. “Women should learn quietly.”
Incidentally, in Jewish culture, if you learnt, it was setting you up to teach. That’s why it was so scandalous when Mary… Some of you are like, “What the heck just happened?” That was why it was so scandalous when Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and learnt. She took the posture of a disciple. Disciples existed to learn from the rabbi until they were able to do what the rabbi did. And what does Jesus do when everyone is having an absolute crazy moment? “She can’t be doing that. Get back to where women were intended to be, in the kitchen, Mary. Know your place.” And Jesus says, “Not so.”
She’s chosen the thing that was intended for her. And so, when Paul here says, “Women should learn and do it peacefully,” he’s being countercultural because he’s saying something. Do you know in Ephesus at that time, we had not a single record of a female student? Do you know that? All the ancient lists of students, not a single female name. Paul was being incredibly pro-women. In a culture where women did not learn, in a culture where there was no context for a woman to learn, Paul says, “Let them learn, but let them do it peacefully because they’re not doing that right now.” They’ve suddenly come into freedom in the body of Christ and they don’t know what to do with that freedom. And they’re being deceived by false teachers. How do I know that? It says it in 1 Timothy 5, it says it in the book of 2 Timothy, where it pinpoints how it was the women who were being so easily deceived. And, in fact, right here it says it in 1 Timothy 13 and 14 where it talks about Adam being formed first, then Eve, for it was the woman deceived, not the man. That’s not anchoring the point on women not teaching, it’s anchoring the point on women learning well. Because let me ask you this, is deception a problem about you teaching or is it a problem about your learning?
You’re only vulnerable to deception, not when you’re speaking. I’m not vulnerable to deception right now. I was vulnerable to deception when I started learning this if I wasn’t learning it well. If you don’t know the truth well, you will be vulnerable to deception. What happened in Genesis? What happened when the serpent came to speak to Eve? She misquotes God. Why is it significant that Adam was made first then Eve? It’s significant because the instruction about not eating from the tree was given to Adam, not to Eve. It’s actually the only instruction that we read of the things that God said to mankind that was given to Adam only. It was the part she needed to learn. Unfortunately, it was a part that she didn’t well.
So, the significance of Adam coming first then Eve is not a significance of authority hierarchy. It’s a significance of, Paul is saying right here to this community, “You men have come first in education. You men have come first in understanding Scripture. Women, understand this, you need to learn well. You need to buy your time. You need to understand this truth. Get it into you, get it through you so that when you speak it, you’ll speak it accurately.” He says, “I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man.” It’s not actually, “I do not permit.” It is the words, “I am not permitting.” It is not a universal command.
If you understand the Greek, it is the time where Paul uses something, a phrase that is his advice in a moment, not a universal teaching. It’s the same structure that he uses when he talks about singleness. He’s not saying a universal instruction of everyone must be single. He’s saying, “It seems good to me in this moment.” And he is saying to Timothy right here, who incidentally is the only reader of this letter, it was not a book written to an entire Church. He’s giving it to Timothy who doesn’t know what to do with these guys. And he is saying to them, “Let your women learn. Let them learn in submission to truth and to authority, because if not, they’ll do exactly what Eve did because she didn’t know the truth properly.”
One more minute in 1 Timothy and then we’ll go to Ephesians 5. 1 Timothy 3, section on eldership. I’m just trying to anticipate what questions are coming. You know, this is where the English doesn’t help because in our Bibles today, there are loads of male pronouns. He, he must this, he must that, that don’t exist in the Greek. Not a single one of them exists in the Greek. We borrowed them because the word for elder is a male word. And so, we’ve used it based on our assumptions from 1 Timothy 2 to prove that eldership must be male. Here’s the problem, John 3:16, “Whosoever believes, though whosoever is male.”
Greek is a language where words are male, female, or neutral, but the reality is every academic under the sun will tell you this. The gender of the word is not necessarily a comment on the gender of the person required to do it. If we read the Bible like that, us girls, better pray for something miraculous because we ain’t saved. I’m not being funny. I’m being truthful. You know, so many sections of the Bible are male-orientated. That’s not a comment on gender. That’s just the reality of the culture. But we can’t do something here that we don’t do anywhere else. We’re not allowed to do that, but we’re doing that based on assumptions based on hierarchy that we’ve implanted into Genesis 1, based on trying to make 1 Timothy 2 say something it’s not saying because I forgot to follow through of my teaching about peace, that women should learn in peace.
And women, “I am not permitting a woman to teach or have authority over a man, but she must be quiet,” which is the word peace again. Seeing as teaching or authority are not in and of themselves mutually exclusive with peacefulness, it’s telling us that something was going on in this community. When women were teaching or having authority in this community, it was at odds with peacefulness. Do you know what’s happened? Paul proclaimed martial law in this community. There was so much unrest and peace needed to be established. He declared martial law.
You know what the problem is in the church? In a season of peace, we’re still proclaiming martial law. But what happens if you deploy your army in a season of peace? You do not maintain peace, you oppress your people. Why do we wonder that feminism is springing up everywhere? I’ll tell you why. The church, for generations, has declared martial law in an attempt to uphold peace, but all we’ve done is brought oppression. It is time to change what the Church is doing. It is time to rebuild ancient ruins. And it’s time to reawaken the purpose of God through men and women on this planet so that the destiny that is on us will be fulfilled in all the world.
I’m just aware of time. Can I do Ephesians 5 really quickly? Okay. let’s really quickly flick to Ephesians 5. We’ll try to do this quick. Guys, I’m giving you summaries. If you’re not convinced, if you’re worried about my theology, feel free to come and speak to me. I’ll give you the 30 books I’ve been reading over the last few months. I’m not being cheeky. I’m being truthful. If you wonder what I do all day, that’s what I do.
Woman: You do it brilliantly, though.
Katia: Thank you. Ephesians 5. Oh, I love this passage so much. Where should we read from, Lord? Okay, let’s read from verse 15. “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil. Start rebuilding the ancient ruins. Therefore, don’t be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Don’t get drunk with wine because that’s settling for far too little but be filled with the spirit. Be a people marked by the spirit, addressing one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your hearts, giving thanks always for everyone to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
I’m sorry, I didn’t see the brackets part that said, “Except for husbands.” I’m being cheeky now. But it’s because of theology has got so deep into the church and the intellectual superiority at the hands of those who would want to say that God did not create men and women equal. And I’m frustrated by it, and I’m tired by it, and I love those people with all my hearts because I know all of us from wanting to be true to Scripture, but it’s enough. It’s enough. You know what, you and I are called to rebuild the ancient ruins of marriage, and we will not be able to do it in marriages that tell women that they’re somehow less, that they’re the follower, that they need to obey, that that’s what submission looks like, because it’s not so. Submit one to another. That includes husbands. Out of reverence for Christ.
And then Paul begins his teaching to wives and husbands. And what is he doing? He actually starts teaching wives and husbands, children and parents, bondservants and masters. He builds it on this one verse of submitting one to another out of reverence for Christ. How do I know that? It’s one sentence from verse 21-22. In fact, when he says, “Wives submit to your husbands,” the word “submit” doesn’t exist in the Greek, he borrows it from the first half of that sentence. Submit one to another out of reverence for Christ, wives you’re… This is how you should do that. And the husbands, the manner of your submission must be loving.
You know, the three groups that Paul talks to were groups that were very common in Roman and Greek ethical conversations. He doesn’t just randomly pick these three groups. He’s being incredibly subversive. He’s doing what Eric was talking about, he’s staying in the game. He’s understanding the structure of the world around him. And he’s saying, “You wanna have those conversations. I’m so happy to have those conversations with you. Let’s put those conversations on the basis of mutual submission.”
Whew, see that didn’t make sense in that context because husbands were the absolute authority of the home. Husbands weren’t required to love their wives. Wives were nothing. Husbands could treat them as their possession. Fathers didn’t need to worry about exasperating their children, fathers were the absolute controller of the home and children were nothing. They had to obey without question. Masters never had to think about the rights or the quality of their slaves because slaves were objects to be used, not people to be valued.
So, when Paul enters the conversation that was the structure of the day and then start saying crazy things like, “Masters respect your servants because at the end of the day you serve the same God,” something was happening that we don’t understand because we don’t understand the culture of the day. He was blowing their minds. He was doing it all on the foundation of mutual submission. Do you know what that was doing to that community? Why did he say mutual submission and then start talking about slaves and masters? What the heck? And he talks to husbands and wives and he says, “Wives, submit as if you would to the Lord.” Why? Because wives were totally begrudging in that context of their submission because they were possessions. It was unquestioning. They had to obey in that culture. And they never did it rooted in respect, they did it because that’s just the way things are.
And Paul says, “Guys, you’re gonna start mutually submitting, but I wanna tell you, wives, your submission needs to be respectful. You need to understand the worth and honor in the man that is in front of you. Submit to him, not because you have to submit him, because you respect him.” And then he looks at the husbands and he says, “Ah, you too, mutual submission.” It’s still there. That’s the foundational verse. But he says, “You don’t want husbands. Your submission needs to be loving. Your submission needs to be laying down your life for your wife.” It’s not begrudging, it’s not like, “Oh, Jesus is so annoying now I have to do this.” No, fall in love with your wife as if she’s your very own body, because guess what she is, they became one flesh and lover in that way. Give yourself for her. That’s what your mutual submission should look like.
And before you start saying to me that it talks about Jesus being the head of the church, and husbands are the head of the wife, absolutely right. But what does Paul say about the head, Jesus being the head and the church being the body? In every reference he makes to it. He doesn’t talk about it as an authoritative hierarchy. He talks about a reality of unity and empowerment. Not once does Paul use that picture in Ephesians about Jesus being the head of the body, the church as if he’s saying, “God is in charge and you’re not, so listen up.”
No, he’s saying, “You’ve been united with Jesus.” The same power that is in Jesus is in you. You are equal. He has made you a co-heir. That is the point. I wanna tell you, husbands, you are the head of the house, and wives, you’re like his body. That doesn’t mean a hierarchy of authority. That means sameness, equal essence. That means one flesh. That’s why he talks about genesis. He says, “One flesh.” That’s all the whole point. I wonder if you’d stand with me.
Katia is a Director at Frequentsee. She is passionate about leading men and women into breakthrough and experience of their God-given freedom. She resides in Durban, South Africa, with her husband, Julian, and two children.