Before we continue with our verse by verse through 1 Corinthians 11, I wanted to share a question that Jen had who watched my clip of “Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free” DVD on YouTube. She said:
“Nowhere does Scripture tell us that there was a wall of separation, a wall of enmity, between males and females, or between slaves and free, that was brought about by the Mosaic Law, and that was then abolished by Christ’s death on the cross. There are plenty of verses regarding women in the Bible, but this passage in Ephesians is NOT one of them. This is twisting Scripture to make it so.”
My reply to Jen (edited to make this issue clear):
Thank you for your comments.
What I was speaking from was Galatians 3:28 – 4:7 Here Paul says that there is neither slave nor free, neither male nor female. What is Paul saying? We need to research to find out because if we only take this as salvation then we have a problem. There was no difference between male and female in salvation. Female’s received salvation in the Old Covenant just as in the New Covenant and no scripture ever questions the salvation of females so there is no point to say that females receive salvation the same way as males. So what kind of situation is Paul referring to that necessitates him saying that there is no male or female?
Paul goes on in chapter 4 to give us the answer. Paul says in Galatians 4:6, 7
“Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His son into our hearts, crying “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.”
Paul is talking about all of us being joint heirs together – something that was not thought possible in the Old Covenant. Salvation was available in the Old Testament to all who joined themselves with Israel but the foreigner and the women were not allowed to be heirs. This was reserved for Jewish men. There was a tremendous separation between each group where one group had all the privileges and the other group had none. At least this is the way that the Jews understood it at the time. It was not made known yet that the Gentiles were to be fellow heirs with them. Ephesians 3:5-6 says:
“which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel”
Neither did the Jews understand that women were also fellow heirs. In the Jewish faith the men were able to go into the temple while the women were given only a court on three sides. There was perceived a separation from God because the women were not treated as “sons” of God. Women were not given the same closeness to God as the men, they were not involved in the services and were not allowed to read the scriptures publicly. As the Jews worked out their “privileged” state, they separated themselves from the Gentiles, from women and from the slaves. Women were assigned to their court and the Gentile’s court was outside the temple. The Jews were the heirs and they were the “son’s” of God while everyone else was not on the same standing as they were. There was a separation between the groups because there was a separation regarding their perceived position with God. But with the death of Christ, the barrier was been broken between the groups and no longer were Gentiles, slaves and women kept out of the holy of holies and it was revealed that they all are joint heirs.
It began with the gentiles who were despised by the Jews. Now the gentiles have been shown to be joint heirs with the Jews, fully reconciled to God and joined to his family. The women were also brought near in an equally close relationship and they are now called “Sons” of God, equal heirs with the men.
Slaves too were brought near to God. While slaves were allowed to experience salvation within the congregation of Israel, they were never allowed to participate in the worship services and they were never allowed to be inheritors in the nation of Israel. So Paul said in Galatians 3:28, 29:
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.”
Do you see that the “if” and “then” relationship? “If” they all belong to Christ “then” they are all heirs according to the promise. Scripture never once rejected any of these groups regarding salvation if they came into the nation of Israel, but the right of “heir” never belonged to the slaves, the women or the Gentiles in practice.
In Ephesians Paul talks about what the wall of separation is between the Jew and the Gentile.
Ephesians 2:14-19 “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. And he came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household.”
The key is verse 19 where Paul says that the Gentiles are no longer strangers and aliens but fellow citizens with the saints. You see salvation was always offered to the Gentiles in Israel’s midst but they were never given sonship or the privileges of sonship. They were never thought of as equals. This was a HUGE barrier between the Gentiles and the Jews. But Jesus broke down that barrier between the two and made the Gentiles joint heirs with the Jews. He made them into ONE new man and as one new man we have been reconciled both to God and to each other.
Paul states this in Ephesians 3:4-6.
“By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel”.
What has been revealed? It is that the Gentiles are “fellow heirs”. The disadvantage between the Gentiles and the Jews and the barriers to God himself have been taken down in Christ. Both have been made into one group – one body in Christ. Has this same disadvantage been broken down for women too? Are they too to be “sons” of God? Peter agrees with Paul that it has:
1 Peter 3:7 “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.”
The inheritance that had been denied women, slaves, and Gentiles has now been revealed that it has been given to all. All are equal in that all are “sons” of God.
So while Ephesians doesn’t specifically mention women and slaves, we see that the disadvantage has been done away with regarding the Gentiles and the barrier between them and God is taken care of by the blood of Christ and their inclusion as full “heirs of God”. Paul then tells us that women, slaves and Gentiles are all sons of God too (Gal. 4) so we know that the barrier has been broken down for women and slaves and not just the Gentiles. This isn’t just salvation, because they already had that if they were within Israel and followed God. This is talking about the equal inheritance and privileges of being in the family of God. The Holy Spirit has been given to all as a pledge of our inheritance (Eph. 1:13, 14).
I appreciated that you checked up on me. That is a good and noble thing! When someone says something about scripture they should be willing and able to prove their point from the scripture in context. I believe that I have proved that the barrier is the inheritance – “heirs of God” that kept the groups separate and if you want to see the scriptures that prove that Gentiles and slaves received salvation in the Old Testament, I can show them to you if you want. Salvation was never an issue with those in the nation of Israel. However there was an inequality as far as the inheritance in God. Praise the Lord that women too are heirs of God and “sons” of God!