Bible Study Topical Series

Lesson 11: Church meetings on business matters, Revision 1

1 Tim 2:8-15 (KJV)

8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. 9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; 10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. 11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. 15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

Paul gave instructions contrasting what men and women are permitted to do. In context he was talking about spiritual matters – prayer, modesty, teaching, raising children to be faithful. Men are to take the lead in praying (1 Tim 2:8), in teaching “with all authority” (Titus 2:15), and in church leadership (1 Tim 3:1-7). And women are to be quiet, modest, learners “with all subjection” (1 Tim 2:11). And they are not to teach nor “usurp authority” (KJV), “have authority” (NKJV), “exercise authority” (NASV) over the man, but to “be in silence” (1 Tim 2:12). The woman is to “learn in silence” and “be in silence” (1 Tim 2:11-12).

The term “silence” (1 Tim 2:11-12) is hesuchia, and ... denotes "quietness," 2 Thess 3:12; it is so translated in the RV of 1 Tim 2:11,12 (KJV, "silence"); in Acts 22:2, RV, "(they were the more) quiet," KJV, "(they kept the more) silence," lit., "they kept quietness the more." (Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words)

The woman’s place of subjection in the church is consistent with the woman’s place of subjection as established by God (Genesis 3:16; 1 Cor 11:3; 1 Cor 14:34-35; 1 Tim 2:13-14; 1 Peter 3:1-6).

In recent years some have been advocating that women should have equal or greater roles of authority in the home and in the church. We see the fruits of this in denominations having women ministers and women elders. Even in the church some are advocating that women take the lead in the worship service and in the leadership of the church. Instances abound. Some today are saying that the business concerning the church should be conducted with the whole church present (including women) in a “general business meeting” (as I encountered three times in California). The idea is all should have equal participation in the discussion leading to decisions and that a consensus of the membership should be reached in order for decisions to be valid. This comes from an incorrect understanding and application of certain passages (see Appendix). The consensus of the membership is not always correct (1 Cor 5:1-2).

Following are the terms used to describe the position and duties of the elders, the leaders/managers of the church:

Elder -- a term of rank or office; as such borne by … b. among Christians, those who presided over the assemblies (or churches): Acts 11:30; 14:23; 15:2,4,6,22 f; 16:4; 21:18; 1 Tim 5:17,19; Titus 1:5; 2 John 1; 3 John 1; 1 Peter 5:1,5 (Thayer’s Lexicon).

Bishop -- an overseer, a man charged with the duty of seeing that things to be done by others are done rightly, any curator, guardian, or superintendent … Specifically, the superintendent, head, or overseer of any Christian church; Vulgate: episcopus: Acts 20:28; Phil 1:1; 1 Tim 3:2; Titus 1:7 (Thayer’s Lexicon).

Pastor -- a herdsman, especially a shepherd … the presiding officer, manager, director, of any assembly: so of Christ the Head of the church, John 10:16; 1 Peter 2:25; Heb 13:20 … used of the overseers of the Christian assemblies (A.V., pastors), Eph 4:11 (Thayer’s Lexicon).

“Feed” the flock -- to feed, to tend a flock, keep sheep … to rule, govern … of the overseers (pastors) of the church, John 21:16; Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2 (Thayer’s Lexicon). Have the “rule” over -- to lead … to be a leader; to rule, command; to have authority over … so of the overseers or leaders of Christian churches: Heb 13:7,17,24 (Thayer’s Lexicon).

Not as “lords” -- to hold in subjection, to be master of, exercise lordship over. tinos, Matt 20:25; Mark 10:42; 1 Peter 5:3 (Thayer’s Lexicon). Thayer references the Greek term used here for “lords” as being in three passages in the New Testament (Matt 20:25; Mark 10:42; I Peter 5:3), and shows a rule by force and intimidation as used by Gentile kings. Dictators exercise lordship and rule by force and intimidation. An example of one who loved to lord it over the church is found in Diotrephes (3 John 9-10). But elders are to rule as Jesus, the chief shepherd, does (1 Peter 5:1-4) – leading, guiding, feeding, overseeing, managing, watching over and protecting the flock, considering the needs of the flock, setting the proper example for the flock, and being self-sacrificing for the benefit of the flock.

Thus, elders, by definition -- are those who preside, superintend, head, oversee, manage, direct, rule, govern, lead, command, have authority over the church (congregation) among them (1 Peter 5:1-2). Jesus is the Chief Shepherd (pastor). Elders are to follow his example in leading (1 Peter 5:1-4). Elders are to rule always seeking to do Jesus’ will, and always looking out for welfare of the flock.

The elders are to set the best possible example for the flock (Heb 13:7; I Pet 5:3).

The area of rule for the elders is not legislative – they do not create laws. Jesus is the lawgiver (James 4:11-12). Elders are to tend and care for and protect the flock, and work to spread the gospel to the lost. They are to execute the will of God and make righteous decisions, within the confines of the law of Christ (1 Cor 10:23).

Their rule is to see that the will of God is carried out in the congregation with respect to evangelism, edification of the saints, and benevolence toward needy saints.

And we have the responsibility to abide by their decisions as long as these decisions are righteous decisions in harmony with the scriptures (Heb 13:17).

Among the requirements for elders, the leaders/managers of the churches, is that they are to be men (I Tim 3:2, Titus 1:6). From these passages it is manifestly evident that God intended that men -- not women -- handle the leadership/management responsibility of the congregation. Qualified men, not women, are to rule the house and the church of God (1 Tim 3:4-5; Gen 3:16).

And there is to be a plurality of elders in every church (Acts 14:23; I Pet 5:1).

And as the definitions and passages relating to the eldership indicate, they make up the leadership/management of the church.

In the absence of qualified elders, then the godly men of the congregation must step forward and do the best they can under the circumstances to conduct business. Leading the church is not to be a matter of majority rule, where babes in Christ have as much say as those mature in the faith.

When we have general business meetings, where all members are required to attend, and give their voice, and where a consensus of the membership is required to validate decisions, then we have gone beyond the intent of the Scriptures regarding the management of the church.

Meetings are not to be a vehicle for majority rule where a consensus of the brethren, men and women, is required in order to conduct business. Important. We should not place women in a position where they are required to direct concerning the affairs of the church. We place them in a precarious position inconsistent with the Lord’s desire concerning their role of submission, and concerning the makeup of the gender of the management team for the church. We have women acting in a leadership/management capacity when ultimately they can never qualify under the law of Christ to be a leader/manager (an elder).

Allan Martin

Appendix

Following is an analysis of passages sometimes used by some to justify women participating in church leadership/management meetings:

The neglect of widows in Acts 6:1-6

Acts 6:1-6

6 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. 2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. 3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. 4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. 5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: 6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

A problem existed in the infancy of the Jerusalem church – Grecian widows were being neglected in the daily ministration (Acts 6:1).

Word came to the Apostles (the leaders/managers of the early church) – there was complaining. The problem was identified (Acts 6:1-6). At this point we can definitely see that the church as a whole did not have a satisfactory solution to the problem. There was neglect and murmuring. They needed guidance/direction from those in the church who were the leaders/managers. Looking at the context it is manifestly evident that, in the early church, the apostles were the leaders/managers. Then when the church had elders/pastors, the people looked to the “apostles and elders” (Acts 15:2,6).

Did the church have a general business meeting (management meeting) with men and women present to decide what to do to solve the problem? There is no evidence of that at all. As a matter of fact, the Jerusalem church was massive, measuring in the multiplied thousands (Acts 2:41-47; Acts 4:4; Acts 5:14; Acts 6:1), which would have made a “congregational” management meeting difficult to say the least.

The management solution was arrived at by the leadership, and was decided upon before there ever was the congregational meeting referred to in Acts 6:2. Then the apostles called a congregational meeting, not to deliberate and work out a management solution to the problem, but to present the already-arrived-at management solution, which the congregation was pleased to implement.

The solution by the apostles included specifics – “men” were needed, seven in number. They were to be godly men, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, who the apostles would place over the business of waiting on tables – and the apostles would have the final say over the choices, as they would do the appointing “over this business” (Acts 6:3).

The management solution concerning the “business” of insuring care of the Grecian widows was presented to the congregation, with the management instructions to implement the solution (Acts 6:3-4).

It pleased the church, and they carried out the management solution. They followed the directions and selected the seven men meeting the apostles’ requirements, and set them before the apostles (Acts 6:5-6). A selection process is not a management meeting in any traditional sense. The apostles/managers had already met and had come up with the solution. After the selection, the apostles appointed the men to be over this “business.”

So the process involved – a problem, an identification of the problem, a management solution, a presenting of the solution to the church, instructions by management that the church implement the solution (the directions of the apostles), the church acting and carrying out the solution (the choosing per the apostles’ requirements), and the apostles (managers) confirming it by appointing those selected to be “over this business” of serving tables.

As a result of good management, the word of God increased, and the number of disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly (Acts 6:7).

The problem of certain men going out from the Jerusalem church to Antioch and teaching false doctrine (Acts 15)

A problem existed. Judaizing teachers were going from Jerusalem to Antioch teaching that circumcision and the law of Moses was binding on the Gentiles (Acts 15:1,24).

Paul and Barnabas opposed these teachers at Antioch (Acts 15:2). Paul and Barnabas had the truth on the matter – that the Gentiles did not need to be circumcised and keep the law of Moses.

The false teachers had come out of the Jerusalem church (Acts 15:1,24). So, Paul and Barnabas and certain others took the problem back to Jerusalem where it had originated to discuss it with the apostles and elders.

Acts 15:2

2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.

When they got to Jerusalem, “they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders” (Acts 15:4).

However, note carefully that the problem was not taken back to the whole congregation for resolution (numbering in the thousands), but rather “unto the apostles and elders” at Jerusalem, the leaders/managers of the church, “about this question” (acts 15:2), for them “to consider of this matter” (Acts 15:6).

Acts 15:2

2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.

Acts 15:6

6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.

There certain of the sect of the Pharisees persisted in arguing that Gentiles needed to be circumcised and keep the law of Moses (Acts 15:5). The errant teachers had their day in court, so to speak, weak as it was (Acts 15:5).

The apostles and elders (the management of the Jerusalem church) came together “for to consider of this matter.”

Acts 15:6

6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.

Paul and Barnabas and certain other of them (men from Antioch with certain of the sect of the Pharisees) were present at this meeting, having been sent by the Antioch church to the apostles and elders to discuss this matter.

Acts 15:2

2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.

Acts 15:5

5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.

Acts 15:12

12 Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.

The Scriptures say that it was the apostles and elders that came together to consider the matter. It doesn’t say that the whole church (which numbered in the thousands) came together to discuss it.

Use common sense. Contextually, the “multitude” in Acts 15:12 refers to those who came together (Apostles and elders at Jerusalem, Paul and Barnabas and certain other of them from Antioch). Quite a crowd. The apostles and elders had to determine how to deal with the issue and the confusion caused by members from Jerusalem teaching error. This multitude had to keep silence to allow two individuals, Paul and Barnabas to give their testimony (Acts 15:12). Then they became silent to allow James to give his sentence on the matter (Acts 15:13).

So, the truth was taught by the apostles, and it prevailed. That truth was that God does not require Gentiles to be circumcised and keep the law, but rather all are saved in the same way – by faith in Christ (Acts 15:7-21).

A determination was made on how to resolve the matter. The truth should be taught to the brethren at Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia, and the truth would clear up the confusion. Letters would be prepared and carried to the brethren at Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia explaining to them the truth on the matter, and that the Jerusalem church didn’t send these men to teach Judaism (Acts 15:24). Rather, it would be explained that these men had acted without authority (Acts 15:6-21,24).

The management solution to send explanatory letters to the affected brethren in Antioch and surrounded areas had been made. Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men to Antioch with letters describing the solution.

Acts 15:22-27

22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: 23 And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: 24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: 25 It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth.

The letters were written and chosen men (Paul, Barnabas, Judas, Silas) carried the letters, in the name of the apostles and elders and brethren, to the affected brethren (Acts 15:22-31). The solution was well received, and the brethren in Antioch rejoiced (Acts 15:30-31).

So, the process involved – a problem, a referral of the problem back to its source, a deliberation and a solution of the problem arrived at by leadership/management, making known the solution to the whole church, and an implementation of the solution by the whole church (the sending of men with letters of clarification concerning justification by faith).

The handling of the fornicator in I Corinthians 5

Did the whole church meet, decide that there was a problem with a fornicator, and then hammer out a management decision on how to handle the problem? Absolutely not!! They were not even acknowledging that there was a problem (I Cor 5:1-2).

Paul, a spiritually minded apostle, identified the problem in his letter to them, and gave the solution (I Cor 5:3-13).

The church was to meet to implement the solution laid out by Paul – to withdraw from the ungodly member.

Once again this was not a management meeting by the whole church to deliberate and make management decisions on discipline.

There was no men and women’s church management meeting here.

Paul and Barnabas’ meeting with the church at Antioch to rehearse the things God had done through them (Acts 14:27)

Did the whole church meet to make management decisions on evangelism?

Or did they meet to receive Paul and Barnabas’ report of their work on their preaching journey?

Paul and Barnabas, under direction by the Holy Spirit, had been sent from Antioch to do the work by the male prophets and teachers in the church (Acts 13:1-3).

Upon their return the church met to listen to Paul and Barnabas tell about their work of the preaching of the gospel in a foreign field.

This was not a management meeting to deliberate and decide what fields to explore, who to support, etc.

There was no men and women’s management meeting there.

The home is not a democracy -- the wife’s feelings must be respected and noted, but in the final analysis the husband as the head of the family must make the decisions.

Likewise, the church is not a democracy -- and decisions are not to be made on what the majority thinks is not always right (1 Corinthians 5:1-2).

God has ordained that godly, spiritually minded, elders oversee and manage the church

He placed stringent requirements on the eldership -- because He wanted men with the godly wisdom of age and experience in family management to be the leaders and decision makers for the flock

God’s appointments are always right -- let’s respect and abide by God’s appointments.