I. JESUS ATTITUDE TOWARDS WOMAN
Before looking at the passage in detail, we need to consider Jesus’ attitude towards
woman. It must be recognized that the status of woman in Judaism at the time was
not much more than a material possession ( Ex 20 : 17 ) a wife differed from a
material possession in that she could not be sold. The jews were also bound by
many of the oral laws in the Talmud in their attitude to woman. For instance, the
rabbis were encouraged not to teach woman or even to speak to them. If they had to
speak to a woman then they used as few words as possible.
Jesus attitude towards woman was radically different to the other religious leader of
His day. He accepted woman disciples, woman traveled with him and ministered to
his needs ( Mk 15: 41 ). He revealed that he was the Christ to woman ( John 4: 26 ),
He included woman in the parables. There were woman present at his crucifixion,
and they were the first to witness his resurrection ( Mat 27 : 55; 28 : 5 ). In its
totality the attitude of our Lord (to woman) was revolutionary even though the
primary point of his ministry does not appear to have been to precipitate a
revolution in this area. Woman who aspire to a greater fulfilment of their own
humanity and those who sympathize with them in this yearning can hardly look for
a better ally than Jesus
II. PAUL’S ATTITUDE TOWARDS WOMAN
In order to understand this passage, it is necessary to gain an insight into Paul’s
attitude to woman, and their role in ministry, in the overall context of the New
Testament. In Romans 16 Paul mentions ten woman whom he describes as fellow
workers in the gospel in same way. We will look at three of these woman to see
Paul’s respect for them. He first mentions phebe, referring to her as a servant of the
church at Cenchrea. The word servant in the Greek is ‘diakonos’. This word is
found thirty times in the New Testament and is usually translated ‘ minister’. Seven
times the King James Version renders it ‘servant’ and the three times as ‘deacon’.
Paul refers to Priscilla and Aquila, as my fellow workers in Christ Jesus ( Rom 16: 3
). It seems that Priscilla had the lead role in this wife and husband teaching team.
The normal way of addressing couples, with the prominent person, usually the
husband, named first. The third woman is Junia, whom Paul refers to as outstanding
among the apostles, a fellow prisoner ( Rom 16: 7 ). John Chrysostom writes of this
woman, oh, how great is the devotion of this woman that she should be counted
worthy of the appellation of apostle. Paul in other places encouraged the woman
to pray, to prophecy in public ( 1 cor 11: 5, 13 ), and to teach. Paul refers to Timothy
himself, as one being taught by woman; his grandmother Lois and mother Eunice
( II Tim 1: 5 ).
It must be concluded that Paul was not generally opposed to woman praying,
teaching, prophesying or ministering in the church. So why was he opposed to
woman teaching or even speaking in the Ephesian church at this time.