Life of Christ

Women in the Life and Ministry of Jesus

The popularity of The Da Vinci Code has forced Christians to realize that their beliefs are open to challenge. As a result, many Christians are interested in subjects that used to draw yawns. A few years ago, no one wanted to hear about the Gnostic Gospels and why we reject them, for example.

One issue raised by The Da Vinci Code is Jesus’ relationship to women. We can easily surmise that the Mary Magdalene nonsense of The Da Vinci Code is bogus, but what was Jesus’ real attitude toward women?

On the one hand, He established the church by training her basic leaders, the apostles. Only men were chosen as apostles, and the concept of male leadership in the church is consistent throughout Scripture: the Old Testament priests had to be male (according to Moses) and Paul teaches that church leaders who teach doctrine or Bible to men must be male, as must elders (1 Tim. 2:9-15, 3:1-2).

On the other hand, God used prophetesses as a channel of divine communication (e.g., Miriam, Deborah, in the Old Testament and the daughters of Philip in the New), and both men and women were encouraged to prophesy in the early church (1 Cor. 11:3-11).

Most of us understand that the reasons for these restrictions on leadership have nothing to do with competence or ability. Most of us know strong, capable godly women who have mastered the Word, as well as not-so-godly Christian men who have not. Nor are these restrictions justified on the basis of ancient culture (and thus no longer relevant). Instead, they are anchored to the order of creation and the events of mankind’s fall into sin (see 1 Tim. 2:9-15), past events that do not change (as does culture). The leadership of men in the home or in the church rises or falls together since they are mandated with similar justification. However, it takes quite a stretch to translate this concept into the political or work world.

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Q & A with Dr. Warren Vanhetloo

Compiled from Dr. Warren VanHetloo’s “Cogitations,” July, 2010.

Question

Is it true that in the Gospels, Jesus rarely gives direct answers to questions?

Answer

I recall that His answers were always intended to be helpful but were not always the sort of answers the questioner expected. Consequently, I am setting out to examine several occasions of question-answer confrontations, starting with the Gospel of Mark.

The first one I find was not directed to Jesus, but He knew about it. A man was let down from the roof whom Jesus healed, saying, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee” (KJV, Mark 2:4-5). Seeing and hearing this, certain scribes judged Him: “Why does this man thus speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?” (2:6-7). So far: 1) the healing had shown divine power, 2) forgiving his sins displayed divine power, which we understand to be actual, not just claimed or asserted. Although their thoughts were not expressed publicly, Jesus immediately was aware of what they were thinking—not by some outward facial expression, but as a divine awareness (2:8).

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Book Review - the Four Gospels

Paperback
384 pages
Ambassador International
(June 29, 2007)
ISBN-10: 1932307753
ISBN-13: 978-1932307757

The Four Gospels by William Stob asks one of the most important interpretive questions that can be posed of the biblical text: why? By continually asking the “why” question of the text, the reader is challenged to consider the various dimensions of it, whether they be textual, co-textual, or intertextual. Stob’s particular question is canonical as he asks: why four Gospels? Stob states, “in spite of their supreme importance and extensive familiarity, many Christians still cannot answer the question: Why Four Gospels?” (p. 17).

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