KYRIOS

Chapter 9 excerpt from my book “Is God a Chauvinist?”

KYRIOS

The Hypocrisy Of Headship 

Growing up in church I had a Sunday school teacher who believed strongly in male headship. She would often tell us that “the husband is the head of the house, but the wife is the neck that turns the head.” She’d tell us about how her and her husband would have arguments and that she’d “submit” only after he put his foot down several times. She would drive to church twice a week. Her in the driver’s seat, their child sitting in the passenger seat, and him sitting in the backseat. During class she would instruct her husband to set up chairs and bring her water. She’d then tell us how her husband was in charge while giving him her to-do list. I noticed this pattern with many couples who adhered to “God ordained male leadership”. Then I’d notice how the wife called all the shots and told her husband what to do and when to do it. Honestly, most of them looked miserable. I believe the Lord allowed me to see this so that I could better understand it. 

Headship theology doesn’t work because it’s not God’s design

I’ve come across several couples like this throughout my life. There are many women who adhere strongly and adamantly to male headship but they are anything but submissive. They say “I’m the neck that turns the head”. This is highly passive aggressive and the exact opposite of submissive. Truthfully, these women were some of the most domineering humans I had ever seen. Adhering to this doctrine often produces the opposite desired effect. 

Where exactly does the Bible say that women are the neck? It doesn’t. People say it so much you’d think it’s Scripture. If you believe in male headship then actually practice it. Practice what you preach! If you believe that your husband is in charge then you are not the neck. You are under his authority and you must do what he says. That is what the word headship means! People claim to believe in male headship but in actuality they do not practice it. We must either adhere to the theology that the man is in charge or adhere to the theology that God is in charge. There are only two options. 

In couples like these, I also noticed that the men are often not “in charge” at all. They are anything but in control. The man is basically relegated to the servant for everyone in the house. These men are the “head of household” in name only. 

This is just a generalization and only my experience, but I’m sure some of you can relate. There are of course lots of nice people who believe in headship theology and are nothing like the people I’ve described. I’ve also known of situations where women stayed with an abusive spouse thinking they were supposed to do what he said because he’s the “leader”. Both men and women have experienced abuse and mistreatment because of this doctrine. 

I say all of this because people don’t understand why I come against this doctrine. I have no problem with a man being in charge. What I have a problem with is people saying that God has put men in charge. We are putting words in God’s mouth that He never said. It is dishonest and disingenuous. The outcome of this doctrine does not produce good fruit. What does produce good fruit? Following God’s doctrine!

Will The Real Kyrios Please Stand Up?

The word translated “Lord” is the Greek word kyrios. It literally means “lord”, “master”, “supreme in authority”, and “controller”. In more polite language it could be used to call a man “sir”.1 The usage of the word was to refer to the male head of a Greek household. The kyrios had total control over his wife and authority over his entire family.2 

There is only one head of household in Scripture and that is Jesus Christ. Jesus replaces the man as the kyrios or the head of household. In doing so God is restoring His ordained order. Correct family structure is Christ as the kyrios not a man. Husbands are never assigned this title by God in the New Testament. 

Literally, whenever we call Jesus Lord we are calling Him “master” or “head of household” because He is “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:16). Kyrios is a title only assigned to Him in a Christian’s life. No one else should ever take that position. 

There Is Only One Kyrios And Only One Priest

one Lord, one faith, one baptism ” -Ephesians 4:5

Ephesians 4:5 clearly states that we have but one Lord or kyrios. This sets the tone for what is said next in Ephesians 5. Christ is called Kyrios several places in the New Testament, but I want to focus on one passage in particular that most in the church are familiar with. 

21Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.  -Ephesians 5:21-24, NIV (emphasis added).

There are many passages that could be covered here, but I think this one is the most crucial to drive the point home. 

The place where the word “submit” is bolded does not exist in the original Greek text. 

The word “submit” was added by translators. Both instances of “submit” were added to the verses pertaining to wives. Some Bible translations such as NASB italicize them because they know those words were added. We are going to break Ephesians 5:21-24 down verse by verse. 

What Does The Word Submit Mean? 

To submit or not to submit – that is the question? Hint – the answer is no. 

Let’s start first with what submit means for the body of Christ as a whole. 

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” -Ephesians 5:21, NIV (emphasis added)

The word translated “submit” is the Greek word hupotasso. It means “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden.”3 This is the same word used throughout the New Testament wherever we see the word “submit” (sometimes translated “subject” depending on the translation version) in terms of the church family or the husband and wife unit. 

What verse 21 says according to the original Greek is:

[have an attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying the burden with] one another out of reverence for Christ.

It’s very simple. It takes a theologian to make it confusing. This is a command for the whole church and it includes husbands and wives. 

Why Is There So Much Confusion Over The Word “submit”?

The New Testament was written in a version of Greek called Koine. Koine means “common”. The Koine vernacular was spoken from 400 B.C. to 600 A.D. 4 It is also called “Alexandrian koine”5. The Greek language was spread by the conquests of Alexander the Great and his armies all over the ancient world. The city of Ephesus – the location of the church for which the book of Ephesians was written – was captured by Alexander in 334 B.C.6 Koine was spoken by the everyday Greek-speaking person including the Apostle Paul. 

The origins of Koine were historically militaristic and it was reflected in the language. Due to this fact some words gained both a militaristic and non-militaristic meaning and usage. Hupotasso is one of those words. What does that mean? It means that the definition of hupotasso changes depending on the context. 

Hupotasso has two meanings the military and the non-military definition. 

In a military context hupotasso means:

“to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader”. This militaristic definition is the one we see in our Bibles and where we get the translation of “submit” or “subject”.7  It is incorrect. The church and the family is not a military setting. 

The non-military definition is what applies to the church, the family, and to believers in general. 

In a non-military context hupotasso means:

“a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden”.8 I gave this definition earlier. “Non-military” is pretty self-explanatory. This definition of hupotasso was the way the word was used outside of any military or warlike scenario. In the context of Ephesians 5, there is nothing militaristic. The non-militaristic definition is what should have been used for Ephesians 5. The entire passage is about the community of believers and their families. 

Ephesians 5:21 also references both men and women. Paul is talking about the body of Christ as a whole. It makes no sense for the military definition to be used between believers. We can’t all be submitting to each other in a militaristic fashion. That would cause total chaos! The non-military definition fits much better with what Paul is conveying. Women would never have been referred to in a militaristic sense in this time period. Even today, militaristic terms are still used primarily for males. 

The non-military meaning was considered the everyday usage of the word among common people and so the meaning would have been understood by the early church correctly. No wonder Paul had no issue with women being pastors and starting churches! 

The word hupotasso is also used in the middle or passive voice of Greek grammar here. This means that the person is choosing to take the action of their own volition. They are not under compulsion or someone else’s directed authority. This is more evidence to the fact that God does not intend for Ephesians 5 to be about hierarchies and rankings between believers. Now that we’ve established that on to the next verse.

Keep It Simple!

“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.” -Ephesians 5:22, NIV (emphasis added)

The words “submit yourselves” doesn’t exist in the original Greek text. The “you do” doesn’t either. That was added by translators. Let me repeat that. These words were added later by translators. 

The verse reads literally:

Wives to their own husbands as to the Lord. 

What are wives commanded to do here? They are commanded to do what the whole church is commanded to do in the previous verse – hupotasso. We are supposed to work together. All believers are commanded to cooperate (work together), assume responsibility, and carry the burden

The question then arises why wives are specifically called out in verse 22 if verse 21 applies to the whole church? 

Paul is calling women to have and to share equal responsibility with their husbands. Actually, with men in general. This stands in stark contrast to centuries old theology that teaches men have the ultimate responsibility for their homes and families. Paul is not using these verses to establish a hierarchy between believers (including husbands and wives), but rather to encourage teamwork and joint effort in the Kingdom of God. You’d never be able to discern that though from the translation. I don’t blame people one bit for being confused by these verses! It would be impossible for an English reader to discern any of this. 

Hupotasso Who?

Who are we to aim our hupotasso at? “the Lord”. The word “Lord” in Greek is kyrios. Who is called the master or head of the household here? Jesus! Most translations interpret this verse to mean that wives are to submit to the authority of their husbands as we also submit to Christ’s authority. Wrong! Only Christ is Kyrios. This is where the theology behind the “traditional umbrella model” that we discussed in chapter 5 comes from.  

So what do verses 21-22 look like when we put them together?

[have an attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying the burden with] one another out of reverence for Christ. 

Wives [assume responsibility and carry the weight of the burden with their own husbands do this] as to the [Lord/Kyrios]

None of this is complicated. It is just made into something very complicated by man-made imposed ideas and by translators who add words and apply incorrect meanings. Paul is actually telling wives to assume responsibility alongside their husbands like the rest of the church does. This is actually a position of elevation for women and not establishing a set of rules for family order like many believe. Paul was not simply restating the current social order of the ancient world but he was establishing a new one. 

If we skip ahead, the same goes for verse 24. 

 “24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” -Ephesians 5:24, NIV (emphasis added)

The italicized “should submit” doesn’t exist in the original. As we know, “submit” is hupotasso. 

It more clearly reads

Now as the church [has an attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying the burden with] Christ, so also wives their husbands in everything.

Just as the church cooperates, assumes responsibility, and carries a burden with Christ, wives are to likewise participate in the spreading of the Gospel with their husbands. 

Takeaway – husbands and wives are supposed to co-labor together in the Gospel with Christ as their leader. For years women have been told to submit to their husbands. This is incorrect and one of the largest doctrinal errors that exists in the church. This revelation needs to be brought to light because it is the linchpin to so many other incorrect teachings about women and the basis upon which they are built.

Next…

Everybody’s Got Their Head In The Way!

Let’s read this very misunderstood verse below…

“For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” -Ephesians 5:23, NIV (emphasis added)

This is where the church gets the idea that the husband is the head of the household. It is all in the translation. I will say that this word is the subject of much heated debate. People know that the proper understanding of it could cause a policy change in the doctrine of the church. 

Let’s start off with our preconceived ideas of what we think the word means. In our minds the English word “head” means authority, leadership, or power. This has a lot to do with how the word is used in our everyday vernacular. For example, we will say things like “head of a corporation” to mean someone who is in charge. 

The word translated “head” is the Greek word kephale. During the time of Paul, kephale “head” did not carry the meaning of authority at all. This has led to another source of confusion for the modern reader. Due to the controversy surrounding the definition of  kephale, I used sources that predate the Feminist movement so it could not be said that this is modern reinterpretation.

This is Ephesians 5:23 with the correct Greek meaning

For the husband is the [one that the woman originates from so the wife also has the same power that the man possesses] as Christ is the [one that the church originates from so the church also has the same power that Christ possesses], His body, of which He is the Savior. 

The next couple of paragraphs are going to prove why this is the real meaning

Definition Inquisition

We are going to look at two different lexicons and their different definitions for kephale and explain why they differ

The Liddell–Scott–Jones Greek-English Lexicon or LSJ lists several definitions for kephale. A lexicon is “the vocabulary of a language, an individual speaker or group of speakers, or a subject”.9 The LSJ’s literal definitions include “head of man or beast”, “extremity”, “top”, “origin”, and “starting-point”. The correct metaphorical or non-literal definitions listed are “completion”, “total”, “sum” or “consummation”.10 Most pastors and theologians interpret Paul’s words in Ephesians 5 to be a metaphor. That is why I am going to go into more detail about the non-literal meaning. Neither the literal or non-literal Greek translations of “head” means authority over another or denotes leadership in any way. There are more definitions for kephale than the ones I’ve listed. The link to the LSJ website is included on the Notes page for Chapter 9 so you can see the full listing yourself. 

Why is there a metaphorical meaning included? 

A metaphorical definition was the meaning of a word when used in a metaphor by Greek speakers. In Ephesians 5:23, Paul seems to be using a metaphor or figurative language to illustrate a point to the reader. It’s obvious that we aren’t all literally each other’s physical heads! 

The LSJ and most New Testament Greek lexicons have the same literal meanings. 

It is the metaphorical definitions where things differ.

Why exactly is all of this important? For example, the NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon lists the metaphorical definition as “anything supreme, chief, prominent” and the sub definition as “of persons, master lord: of a husband in relation to his wife” or “of Christ: the Lord of the husband and of the Church”11 

I’m saying all of this because the incorrect metaphorical definition above is what Christians see when they look up the word kephale. This is why the church views Ephesians 5:23 as establishing the husband as “lord” or “master” over his wife. If we notice above, Christ is listed as being Lord of the husband and the church only. What about the wife? The husband is listed as the Lord over her. 

If this is not the correct definition then why is it listed in our lexicons?

The Metaphorical Is Not Historical

Why is the LSJ’s definitions for kephale not used by the church?

The LSJ is the most complete ancient Greek dictionary in the world. The first edition was finished in 1843. It contains every discovered text up to 1940. It includes the works of ancient Greek authors and the works of the New Testament. The LSJ is not a New Testament lexicon specifically even though it does derive its definitions from it. It takes into account all ancient works of the Greek language when determining a word’s definition. The LSJ gives a more accurate and complete list of definitions as they would have been understood by the average Greek speaker in Paul’s time. 

Many Greek New Testament lexicons, such as the NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon, form their definitions based upon the New Testament. You read that correctly. They defined the meanings of kephale based upon what they already thought the word should mean.

I’m not saying that Greek New Testament lexicons aren’t good resources to use for study. They are! It is the metaphorical definitions that differ. This is where human intervention has distorted our understanding of words and ultimately the Bible. When someone sees husband defined as “lord” or “master” of his wife in a New Testament Greek lexicon they assume it is correct. Definitions are everything and they must be derived from accurate historical understanding. 

What’s the conclusion? 

The LSJ paints a more complete picture of how the word kephale would have been understood by the Ephesian church. Its sources are derived from the actual use of the word throughout ancient Greek literature. 

Gleaning The Meaning

Some scholars and theologians believe that a word’s definition and usage changes when it is used in the New Testament. They literally believe that the definition of a word’s meaning alters when it is used in Scripture. What are the implications of that line of thinking? 

When Paul was writing the Bible there was no Bible for him to reference as the definition. He used the actual everyday definition that Greek speaking people would have been familiar with. He was not redefining the word to mean something else that the Ephesian church did not understand. 

This is how we end up with incorrect definitions and ultimately incorrect theology. This line of thinking leaves a lot of room for personal interpretation in Scripture. We can see clearly that it already has. 

The metaphorical definition derived from many Greek New Testament lexicons comes from the already held cultural belief that the man is the head of the household. Literally, most Greek lexicon’s metaphorical definition for kephale “head” is derived from one’s own English interpretation. It is not based upon how the word kephale would have been used or understood in the Greek speaking world. It is defining kephale’s definition based upon what one already thinks it means. This is circular reasoning.

Most dictionaries will explicitly quote Ephesians 5:23 as the source of their definition for kephale. This is extrapolating and then adding something to Scripture that does not hold up to close historical examination of Greek language. It is changing the Word of God and giving meanings that are not present in Scripture. I don’t blame people for believing this lie about headship for so many years. The incorrect metaphorical definition is included in most word searches for kephale. Pastors are basing their sermons upon someone else’s ideas.  

Paul wrote his letters to the early church with the intention of edification and correction as directed by the Holy Spirit. How would the churches have known the meaning of anything he wrote if the words simply changed meanings at whim? This does not make sense. It is an excuse to change the meanings of words and also to add them. To understand Paul’s words accurately we must understand them as the people in his time would have understood them. We cannot grasp Paul’s words and Christ’s intention accurately if we are using definitions derived from what a more recent translator thinks they should mean. We want the definition as God intended through the writings of Paul!

What’s the conclusion? 

New Testament Greek lexicons are great resources. However, if metaphorical definitions are listed as being solely derived from a passage of Scripture and lacking the historical evidence to back it up then we are seeing someone else’s interpretation of the word’s meaning. We are not seeing how the word was used or understood by people in Paul’s time. 

Expert Support

It’s a pretty bold claim to say that Ephesians 5:23 has nothing to do with authority, leadership, or hierarchy so here are some experts to back it up. 

Professor Richard Cervin received his MA and PhD in linguistics. He observes that there is no clear example of kephale being used to mean authority, ruler, or leader in secular Greek writings. This includes metaphorical uses of kephale. The first place we see this definition being used is in the Bible. There is no historical or linguistic evidence to support kephale meaning some in authority over someone else.12

Albert Wolters is an emeritus professor of religion at Redeemer University College. He adheres to complementarian theology. As such, he believes that God gave man a special role and place of leadership over women. He also believes that the meanings of Greek words in the New Testament can have their own meanings that differ from their secular Greek definitions. He admits that the LSJ is completely justified for not listing “chief” or “ruler” as a definition for kephale. He also contends that an authoritative definition was not understood as the meaning of the word in secular Greek literature.13 

It is known by scholars that outside of the New Testament interpretation of kephale, that it does not have an authoritative meaning or a meaning of leadership. Whatever interpretations of kephale that are believed to mean “chief” or “ruler” are opinions concluded by the reader and are not the actual definitions in the Greek language. 

If God’s intended meaning was that men were in charge of their wives and families, then the word that would have been used is archón. The word archón literally means “ruler, chief”. The usage of the word includes “a ruler, governor, leader, leading man”.14 Neither the word archón or kyrios is used anywhere in the New Testament by God to refer to women in relation to men or to their husbands. 

Shazam!

Even after all of my research and studying I still wasn’t quite sure what Ephesians 5 meant and how it applied practically in a Christian’s life. I knew what kephale didn’t mean, but I didn’t know exactly what it meant. I also didn’t know what God’s intention was in having Paul write this to the church. Since I wasn’t sure of the Author’s intention I decided to ask Him. 

I was watching the movie Shazam. To be honest I didn’t even want to watch it. It is a movie about a foster kid named Billy. He receives superpowers from a wizard named Shazam so he can fight the 7 deadly sins that are coming to wreak havoc on the earth. To activate his powers all Billy has to do is say the wizard’s name. He is then transformed into the superhero Shazam who is an adult with super strength, speed, bulletproof skin, and the ability to fly. 

At the end of the movie, Billy shares his power with his foster siblings by having them hold on to the wizard’s staff and say Shazam! Each kid is transformed into an adult superhero and takes on one of the 7 deadly sins. As I was watching Billy instruct his foster siblings to lay their hand upon the staff and say Shazam, the Lord said to me, “That is what I’m talking about.” 

Billy is the kephale of his foster siblings. Billy was the first and most prominent Shazam. But they were all transformed into a Shazam and given equal power and abilities with Billy. Billy is not their leader or team captain. He is simply one of the Shazams. The source of power was transferred from Billy because he was the original, but they are all equal in ability, authority, and power. Billy, the kephale, does not have power or authority over his brothers and sisters, but he is instead a part of the team. He is the first and the source of origination of their power, but he does not have authority over them. Each has their own authority. They are all equals. Kephale is the same word also used in 1 Corinthians 11:3.

“But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.”

For husbands and wives this is about life coming from the man to the woman but each has authority on their own head. 

1 Corinthians 11:10, KJV (emphasis added)

“For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.” 

The word for power is exousia. It can be defined as “power of choice”, physical and mental power”, “the power of authority”, and “the power of rule of government”.15 It refers to governmental authority that is endued by what someone possesses or exercises. The word angels is “aggelos”. It can mean “an angel” or “a messenger from God”. However, it also has another meaning. It can mean “messenger, envoy, one who is sent”.16 Who were sent and who are the messengers? We are! This can be correlated to God’s direction for both man and woman, Adam, to have dominion over the earth. A woman therefore operates as man does in authority as a result of the Gospel. Since man and woman are one she also possesses the same power and dominion because Christ has restored it. This is what Ephesians 5 is talking about. The Lord used a superhero movie to show me what Ephesians 5 means. If God can use a talking donkey to get His message across, then I guess a movie isn’t so crazy!

Wrong mindsets will always find a way to change or alter the Word of God to limit the body of Christ. Why? Because the devil is a chauvinist. The devil hates women. Sadly, many men and even some women in the church have come into alignment with this ungodly mindset. Satan cannot operate without a body and without a mouthpiece to use. The enemy has tried subtlety throughout church history to rewrite woman’s story. No longer will this be because God will not allow it. 

What’s So Mysterious Exactly?

Paul sums up what he has been talking about in Ephesians 5 as a great mystery. 

“This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.” -Ephesians 5:32

What is the mystery then? Pauls states that he is speaking in “reference to Christ and the church”. The overarching context of Ephesians chapter 5 is the Kingdom of God. It is all about His kingdom. It is all about His gospel. 

I asked God for revelation on what this “great mystery” was. The one definition of hupotasso ,“carrying a burden”, jumped out at me. I asked the Lord “What is carrying a burden even referring to?” He showed me this passage.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” -Matthew 11:28-30.

Sitting in front of my laptop I said to the Lord “What does this verse mean?” He said to me, “The burden I am talking about is the Gospel”.  

Ephesians 5:21-24 is about husbands and wives co-laboring together in the Gospel. How can we understand these verses in light of both historical cultural understanding and Greek translation?

21[cooperate, assume responsibility, and carry the burden of the Gospel with] one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives [participate in carrying the burden of the Gospel with] their own husbands as you do to [Jesus Christ who is the head of household or master]. 

23 For the husband is the [one that the woman originates from so the wife also has the same power that the man possesses] as Christ is the [one that the church originates from so the church also has the same power that Christ possesses], His body, of which He is the Savior. 

24 Now as the church [cooperates, assumes responsibility, and carries the burden of the Gospel] to Christ, so also wives [are to carry the burden of the Gospel with] their husbands in everything.

This passage has been so twisted out of context that the true meaning and intention has been lost. Assumptions have been defining Ephesians 5 for far too long. This is actually an awesome thing that this verse is saying for both men and women. It has been totally distorted and made about authority and who is in control. This verse has nothing to do with hierarchy, power, or “who’s in charge”. This entire passage is about husbands and wives co-laboring together with Christ. When we follow correct doctrine we will produce good fruit in our ministries, lives, and homes. I call this model below the “Ephesians 5 Model”. 

Jesus Is The Head of House

Why does Paul use the kyrios dynamic in Ephesians 5? Because Paul is using cultural methods to describe God concepts. Why was this important for a Roman cultured audience? 

All members of a Roman household were subject to patria potestas in Latin or the “power of the father” as the head of household. This gave the father an incredible amount of power over relatives and his children.17 People during the time of Paul were quite accustomed to the concept of a male head of household.

When a woman married she went from being under her father’s control to her husband’s. As time went on this marriage practice died out. No longer was a husband awarded any authority over his wife. By Paul’s time a wife was considered under the control and authority of her father even though she was married. This meant that a married woman was still under the control of her father as long as he lived despite now having a family of her own.18 This implied that a daughter was to do as her father wanted despite her husband’s wishes. 

Paternal control was very strong in Roman culture even after marriage. Paul was addressing this issue by placing Christ as the Kyrios of a married couple instead of the father. This is an aspect of the culture of the day that is not understood by modern readers. It was less about the husband having control over his wife and more about the father having control over his entire family regardless of their marital status. 

This is why we see God establishing Himself as Father throughout the New Testament. God was establishing Himself as the highest position both culturally and socially to ancient people. God does not say He is a Father to us because He is male. Throughout both the Old and New Testament the Lord shows Himself through female maternal images. The attributes of God are both masculine and feminine. 

“Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory.”  -Psalm 24:10 (emphasis added)

The Lord of hosts is Jehovah Sabaoth. Sabaoth is feminine plural. We could interpret this to mean that the feminine characteristics of God are militaristic, strong, and courageous. 

“The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” -Genesis 1:2, KJV (emphasis added)

The part I have bolded is in the feminine grammar. In Hebrew, “Spirit of God” is ruach Elohim. Ruach is feminine. The verb “moved” also has a feminine verb ending to refer to the action takes by ruach Elohim. God is clearly referring to Himself in the feminine form here. 

“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” -John 4:24 (emphasis added)

The bolded word “spirit” is pneumati. It is a neuter noun in Greek. This means that the word is neither masculine or feminine. A neuter noun can become either masculine or feminine based upon the way that it is personified. God is Spirit and He personifies Himself throughout Scripture as both male and female. 

Cleary, Jesus came as a man. However, He used a parable of a woman searching for a lost coin in Luke 15:8-10 to refer to Himself. 

8 “Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

This passage is nestled between the parable of the lost sheep and the parable of the prodigal son. Jesus is clearly demonstrating His heart toward the people and used analogies of Himself as a shephard, a woman, and a father. We are quite familiar with the imagery of God as the Good Shephard and as the Father. We are not so acquainted with the image of God as a woman searching for her lost coin. 

Some more examples…

Deuteronomy 32:18 God who gives birth

“You […] forgot the God who gave you birth.”

Hosea 13:8 God described as a mother bear and a lioness

“I will encounter them like a bear robbed of her cubs, […] There I will also devour them like a lioness.”

Isaiah 42:14 God as a woman in labor

“[…] like a woman in labor I will groan”

Isaiah 66:13 God as a comforting mother

“As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you […]”

There are more examples that I could pull from, but I think this is sufficient to get the point across. God is not made in our image. We are made in God’s. As such, God can show Himself in anyway that He pleases – both male and female. 

Deuteronomy 32:11 God is described as a parent eagle

“Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that hovers over its young, He spread His wings and caught them, He carried them on His pinions.”

Both male and female eagles incubate the eggs in their nests. They are co-laborers. Their duties are shared. One of the four faces of God is the eagle. 

“As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.” -Ezekiel 1:10, KJV

This is a picture of how God wants man and woman to co-rule. Eagles are referenced numerous times throughout Scripture. God must really like this bird. 

Jesus Is The Priest Of The Home

The head of a Roman household was also expected to act as the priest of the family. He was responsible to perform the religious rituals for his home.19 The Romans were quite superstitious and believed in many spirits. There was a specific spirit dedicated to the head of the Roman home called genius. The symbol for this spirit was a snake and it represented “the spirit of manhood”. It was believed that genius literally empowered the father and manifested itself in him. Accordingly, genius was honored on the father’s birthday.20 Upon the father’s death genius would be passed on to his successor or the next head of household and continue to be worshipped by the family.21  

This ancient idea has implanted itself in the church for centuries and where we get the idea of men being the “priest of the house”. This term exists nowhere in the Bible. 

Today, the only priest of the home is Christ Himself. 

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. […]” -Ephesians 5:25-28 (emphasis added)

Jesus is establishing Himself as priest of the home in Ephesians 5:25-28. He is not establishing the husband or father in this position. 

God is simply commanding men to love their wives not to act as a priest towards them. The only things husbands are commanded to do is to love their wives with God’s love for them and treat them as a part of their own bodies. All believers are commanded to love each other with God’s love. The difference is that husbands and wives are to see each other as one within the collective whole of the church body. God has designed husbands and wives to run the race together with Christ as their example, leadership and authority. Period.

No longer were Roman families to honor household gods. No longer were fathers to place themselves as the head of the family and summon the genius. The father had now been replaced by Christ who is the only Priest in a Christian’s life. Only Christ washes and cleanses us with the Word. No one else!

Teaching that the husband or father is the priest of the home is removing Christ from His rightful place. It borders on the blasphemous. It is also another subtle influence of Greek thought entering the church and corrupting our theology. It makes the husband or father a god like figure and it is a form of spiritual bondage. It should not be surprising that there were pagan spirits associated with a Roman man’s position of authority as the head of household. It’s also not a surprise that the spirit was represented by a snake. This role is a position filled by men only after sin entered the scene. In a Christian’s life, only Christ should be their kyrios and priest.

Bema

According to the belief that the husband is the priest of the home, men are also often taught that they will give an account before God for their families. This is a big one that I was taught. Husbands are also seen as the spiritual covering over their wives and families. Nowhere does the Bible state this. This is not supported by Scripture. The Bible actually says that we will each give an account of our own lives. 

Romans 14:10 tells us that we will all stand before the judgement seat of God and give an account. At the end of an Olympic marathon was the judgement seat or bema seat where the judge sat. Upon finishing the race, runners were given gifts according to their performance.22 Each runner gave their own account and was rewarded individually. The bema seat was not something terrifying but something to look forward to. 

Sin has already been dealt with at the cross so there is nothing to fear when we stand before God. Every person answers for themselves because in God’s race we are running with Him. We are not running behind someone else. To say that a husband answers for his wife and family is to not only go against what Scripture explicitly states it is saying that God does not view us as individually accountable for our own lives. It also gives men an impossible burden to carry and forces them into a role that only God is able to fill. 

I’m sure this chapter has been a confirmation for some of what they have already felt the Holy Spirit telling them. For others this chapter has possibly been a hard pill to swallow. To hold on to the belief that a woman is supposed to be under her husband’s leadership is actually following the world’s model for marriage not God’s. We’ve been taught for so long that this is right that it can be difficult to accept God’s way. 

The church has actually accepted the ancient world’s model for marriage and many have successfully passed it off as a Christ concept. Nothing could be further from the truth. New Testament Scripture has been used to justify all sorts of atrocities and injustices including slavery. Why? Because people don’t study the Greek language and the historical context. I call that lazy theology. They look at the Gospel through their own world view lens with their preconceived ideas of what it says. If we really want to know something and follow God’s ways why don’t we examine it for ourselves? Why do we take someone else’s word for it and not study it? 

Many also don’t ask God for revelation about what He is saying. I think the Author wants us to ask. Asking would save a lot of people heartache. Instead, we chose to think we know best and that age widely beliefs should not be questioned. It is actually pride that can cause us to cling to what is familiar. It is a recipe to guarantee doctrinal error. 

Notes:

  1. “G2962 – kyrios – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (KJV),” Blue Letter Bible, accessed 30 Dec, 2019, https://www.blueletterbible.org//lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=g2962&t=kjv.
  1. Robert Hancock-Jones, Dan Menashe and James Renshaw, OCR Classical Civilisation GCSE Route 2: Women in the Ancient World (New York: Bloomsbury, 2017), 21.
  1. “Hupotasso,” The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon, 1999, Bible Study Tools, https://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/nas/hupotasso.html.
  1. “koine,” Merriam-Webster, accessed 30 Dec, 2019, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/koine.
  1. A.-F. Christidis,  A History of Ancient Greek: From the Beginnings to Late Antiquity (New York: Cambridge, 2007), 676.
  1. Joshua D. Mark, “The Hellenistic World: The World of Alexander the Great,” published November 1, 2018, Ancient History Encyclopedia, https://www.ancient.eu/article/94/the-hellenistic-world-the-world-of-alexander-the-g/.
  1. “Hupotasso,” The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon, 1999, Bible Study Tools, https://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/nas/hupotasso.html.
  1. Ibid.
  1. “Lexicon,” Merriam-Webster, accessed January 5, 2019, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lexicon.
  1. Henry George Liddell. Robert Scott, “A Greek-English Lexicon,” Revised and augmented throughout by Sir Henry Stuart Jones with the assistance of Roderick McKenzie, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1940), accessed December 30, 2019, http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0057%3Aentry%3Dkefalh%2F.
  1. “Kephale,” The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon, 1999, Bible Study Tools, https://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/nas/kephale.html.
  1. Richard S. Cervin, “On the Significance of Kephalē (“Head”): A Study of the Abuse of One Greek Word,” Academia, (Priscilla Papers: 2016), Issue 2, vol. 30: 12;18, https://www.academia.edu/35796732/On_the_Significance_of_Kephal%C4%93_Head_A_Study_of_the_Abuse_of_One_Greek_Word.
  1. A. Wolters, “Head as a metaphor in Paul,” published June 21, 2011, Koers Bulletin for Christian Scholarship, vol. 76: No. 1, 143-144 https://www.koersjournal.org.za/index.php/koers/article/view/10. Creative Commons License (CC BY 3.0), https://web.archive.org/web/20180412040548/https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/.
  1. “758. Archón,” Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, Bible Hub, accessed December 30, 2019, https://biblehub.com/greek/758.htm.
  1. “Exousia,” The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon, 1999, Bible Study Tools, accessed December 30, 2019, https://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/nas/exousia.html.
  1. “Aggelos,” The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon, 1999, Bible Study Tools, accessed December 30, 2019, https://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/nas/aggelos.html.
  1. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, “Patria Potestas,” Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica Inc., published March 30, 2016, https://www.britannica.com/topic/patria-potestas.
  1. Ibid. 
  1. “Worship,” pbs, 2006, accessed December 30, 2019, https://www.pbs.org/empires/romans/empire/worship.html.
  1. Joshua J. Mark, “Roman Household Spirits: Manes, Panes and Lares,” Ancient History Encyclopedia, published October 28, 2019, https://www.ancient.eu/article/34/roman-household-spirits-manes-panes-and-lares/.
  1. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, “Genius,” Encyclopaedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica Inc., published January 16, 2012,  https://www.britannica.com/topic/genius-Roman-religion.
  2. Stewart, D. “What Is the Judgment Seat of Christ? (The Bema),” Blue Letter Bible, last modified 24 Apr, 2007, https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_144.cfm.

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