Bible teaches that men and women have an equal standing before
God regarding salvation. Yet God designed men and women to be
different from each other, and to have different roles. In this
chapter we explore these roles, and consider the instructions
in the scriptures that are given specifically to men or specifically
Paul wrote this passage to explain some of the basic aspects
about who can be saved and on what basis they will receive
salvation. He was arguing against the Jews who believed that
they were superior to Gentiles because they had the Law of
Moses, and that this Law was sufficient to save them.
1. What must a person do to be saved according to God’s
How is “oneness” achieved between all believers?
3. What does the passage teach about the equality of men
and women regarding salvation?
Man is the head of the woman
Clearly, men and women have equal opportunity for salvation
and equal “spiritual status”. However, Paul also
writes about a leadership hierarchy that God has established.
Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. (1 Corinthians 11:3)
For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. (Ephesians 5:23)
leadership role of the man applies in the family as well as
amongst groups of believers.
See “The husband’s
role” in Chapter 60.
Men in the church
Peter’s instructions about the leadership roles in the
church require that these positions be filled
1 Timothy 3:2-7; 1 Peter 5:1-3
He emphasises that
a leader in the church must also be a good leader of his own
This requirement that men hold the spiritual leadership positions continues on from the pattern in the Old Testament where the leader at home was the husband, and the leaders of the nation of Israel were male priests and kings. Similarly, Jesus chose twelve male disciples.
Characteristics of godly men
|1 Timothy 3:1-7
||be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money, manage his own family well, have a good reputation with outsiders.
|1 Timothy 4:12
||an example in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.
||blameless, the husband of one wife, a man whose children believe, not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain, hospitable, one who loves what is good, self-controlled, upright, holy, disciplined, holding firmly to what has been taught, encouraging others by sound doctrine, refuting false teachers.
||temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, sound in faith, love and endurance, a good example, showing integrity, serious, sound in speech.
The spiritual qualifications for an elder or leader are appropriate goals for every man who is a follower of Christ.
Characteristics of godly women
||of noble character, trustworthy, reliable, creative, practical, hard working, enterprising, charitable, organised, of strong character, dignified, speaks with wisdom, industrious, fears the LORD.
| 1 Peter 3:1-6
||submissive to husbands, an example in purity, reverent, having a gentle and quiet spirit, respectful to husbands.
||reverent, not a slanderer, not addicted to much wine, teaches what is good, loves husband and children, self-controlled, pure, busy at home, kind, subject to husbands.
|1 Timothy 3:11
||worthy of respect, not malicious talkers, temperate, trustworthy.
Women in the church
Paul instructs women to be silent in church, because it is
men that have been designated by God to take on the spiritual
For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the
congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in
the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in
submission, as the Law says.
(1 Corinthians 14:33-34)
Does this mean women should be completely silent in meetings of the church? If not, what does it mean?
Paul further explains that it is not appropriate for a woman
to teach a man in church, because of the hierarchy that God
put in place when Eve was formed and when Eve sinned. Priscilla taught Apollos the gospel (Acts 18:26). Why was this allowed?
determined that the consequence of Eve’s sin would be
passed on to all women.
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do
not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man;
she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And
Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived
and became a sinner.
(1 Timothy 2:11-14)
The role of work for men and women
God expects both men and women to work to the best of their
ability. This applies to work in a business environment, work
in the home, or work done on a voluntary basis.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working
for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive
an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ
you are serving. (Colossians 3:23-24)
God told Adam that as a result of his sin, he would have to
work to eat for the rest of his life. Genesis 3:17-19 This consequence for
Adam was passed on to all men. As head of the family, the
husband is responsible for labouring to provide for his family.
Paul writes about the responsibility that men have to provide
for their families:
If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially
for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse
than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:8)
Men are also responsible for the spiritual leadership of their
families. See Ephesians 6:4; 1 Timothy 3:4-5.
As God said to Abraham
For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children
and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by
doing what is right and just. (Genesis 18:19)
A faithful woman can take on many different types of work.
For example, the highly esteemed woman in Proverbs 31 was
involved in raising children, domestic duties, household management,
managing business interests and charity work.
Paul encouraged women to be involved with good deeds, such
. . . bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the
feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting
herself to all kind of good deeds. (1 Timothy 5:10)
The scriptures continually emphasise motherhood and the raising
of children as the primary working role for women.
will be saved through childbearing-if they continue in faith,
love and holiness with propriety. (1 Timothy 2:15)
A woman who is a mother should work at this with all her heart,
because it is rewarding work for the Lord. For those mothers
who are involved in work or other activities outside the home,
they must ensure that the spiritual, physical, and emotional
development of their children is given a higher priority than
The role of men and women in God’s kingdom
There does not appear to be a different role for men and women
in God’s kingdom. Faithful men and women will all become
like the angels.
At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given
in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.
• In terms of salvation, men and women are equal before
• God designed that men would have the leadership role
in the home and in the church.
• Men and women should work to the best of their abilities.
• Men and women should ensure that they have the right
priorities in their work.
• In all aspects of their lives they should seek to
show godly characteristics.
• Men and women should support each other’s efforts
to fulfill their God-given roles.
1. Review the list of characteristics for godly men and women.
Most of these characteristics are mentioned elsewhere
in the New Testament as being applicable to all
believers. Why are they singled out as being particularly
relevant to either men or women?
2. God has designed that men should be the leaders in the
church. Is it therefore appropriate for women to take on any
of the following roles?
||• Chairman at a meeting of believers
|• Sunday school superintendent
||• Exhorter or teacher at a meeting of believers
|• Sunday school teacher
||• Reader at a meeting of believers
||• Interviewer at a baptism
|• Leading the music in worship
||• Singing hymns
||• Writing books about the Bible
3. Do men have an obligation to perform leadership roles at
home and in the church, even if they do not feel cut out to
be a leader?
1. Can you find any examples in the scriptures where women
took on leadership roles? If so, why did they do this? Is
this relevant to the discussion on the roles that women should
take on today?
2. Some argue that Paul’s instructions about women in
the church should be disregarded, because they are out of
touch with today’s society. What do you think about
this? Give scriptural reasons for your answer.
• Man and woman: a study of biblical roles by Michael
Lewis, (published by the Testimony, 1992).
• Acts and epistles by A.D. Norris (published by Aletheia
• Women of the Bible (published by The Christadelphian,
62. Careers and employment
64. Leisure time