Subscribe via RSS Feed

Paul Elbert: Pastoral Letter to Theo

Elbert then moves from this potential misinterpretation in John regarding the heavenly Jesus’ ministry of baptism in the Holy Spirit to interpersonal spiritual gifts, as taught in 1 Corinthians. He begins this segment with 1 Corinthians 13:10 and contends that this verse has been venerated as a major proof-texting source by the modern dispensational/cessationistic mindset. After a brief discussion, Elbert closes by pointing out that since we do not see face-to-face Paul’s “that which is perfect” cannot refer either to the canon of scripture or to the later completion of a supposed imaginary epoch (24). As to the imposition of an intervening chasm between Paul’s original readers and later readers, one might draw attention to the apparent chasmal ridiculousness of God, through Paul, taking pains to explain details of interpersonal spiritual ministries that He was about to eliminate.

This argument then moves effortlessly to the role of women in the church and the sexist treatment they have received due to unexamined dictums and grossly distorted texts. Supporting this argument, Elbert again raises the classic case of the “apostolic–age” interpretive method employed by John Calvin at Acts 2:38–39, something that he has written about previously, where Calvin reverses his own contextual interpretation of the gift of the Holy Spirit (2:38). Here Calvin erases his own reading by imposing a cessationistic dictum. Elbert suggests that Calvin’s performance here was politically motivated (29).

“But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

— John 7:39 (NKJV)

Elbert goes on to mention that selecting a verse out of context for study is disconnected from the Greco-Roman culture and method of study. For those rhetorically trained in Roman education, every verse would have been studied consistently within the context of the entire work. In such a literary atmosphere, 1 Corinthians 14:34–35 would never have been disconnected from 1 Corinthians 14:1 and, more importantly, from 11:5. If women are encouraged to pray and prophesy with their heads covered, then it does not follow that they would be excused from speaking in the church altogether. Elbert suggests, then, that these women mentioned in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 should remain silent because they were interrupting the service with their questions and debates. This passage does not conclusively suggest that all women should remain silent at all times and evidence in support of this conclusion is offered. As shown by the gender inclusive “all” in 1 Corinthians 14:31, all may contribute to the ministry of prophecy, which may include elements of teaching so that people can understand. However, those who cause confusions with questions must wait and address them at home with their own husbands (35). Therefore, by connecting Paul’s train of thought through 1 Corinthians in 11:5, 14:1, 31, 34–35, one can see the coherent thought that negates the cessation of women’s ministries.

After his discussion of 1 Corinthians, Elbert confronts the text of 1 Timothy 2:11–12. Once again, he insists that these two verses cannot be extracted from the entire NT context. He goes on to explain the cultural background of Ephesus and role of women in this city, pointing out that the context of 1 Timothy is concerned with the home, not public ministry. Timothy’s warning of a woman exercising authority over a man in referring to the woman’s own husband. Since her husband is the head of the home, she is not to exercise authority over him in particular. This argument is preceded and balanced by Elbert’s comments that wives can be right and calls attention to God telling Abraham to listen to his wife in Genesis 21:9-13. He also points out the distinct instruction of mutual submission in Ephesians 5. As Elbert continues with the specific reference to restrict women from teaching as extracted by some from 1 Timothy, he again reiterates the specific cultural and religious background of this Epistle. These women needed to learn from their husbands. They warranted correction for their religious and social status associated with worship in the Temple of Diana. Elbert firmly establishes this point on the use of the Greek verb epitrepō, which refers to a prohibition for a specified time and cannot mean a permanent ban. The textual implication explicitly correlates to the underlying cultural situation (48).

Pin It
Page 2 of 41234

Tags: , , , ,

Category: Ministry, Winter 2009

About the Author: Adrian Hinkle is an Assistant Professor in the Bible/Theology department at Southwestern Christian University in Bethany, OK. She graduated with an M.A. in Theology from Southern Nazarene University and is now working towards a Doctorate of Ministry from Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. She is an active member of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church along with her husband and two children.

  • Connect with

    Subscribe via Twitter Followers   Subscribe via Facebook Fans
  • Recent Comments

  • Featured Authors

    Amos Yong is Professor of Theology & Mission and director of the Center for Missiological Research at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena. His graduate education includes degree...

    Jelle Creemers: Theological Dialogue with Classical Pentecostals

    Antipas L. Harris, D.Min. (Boston University), S.T.M. (Yale University Divinity School), M.Div. (Emory University), is the president-dean of Jakes Divinity School and associate pasto...

    Invitation: Stories about transformation

    Craig S. Keener, Ph.D. (Duke University), is F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He is author of many books<...

    Studies in Acts

    Daniel A. Brown, PhD, planted The Coastlands, a church near Santa Cruz, California, serving as Senior Pastor for 22 years. Daniel has authored four books and numerous articles, but h...

    Will I Still Be Me After Death?