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Published Date: April 29, 2024

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Women and Men: A Biblical and Theological Perspective

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“My first memory was from when I was three years old,” he said to me. “I’m clinging to my mother’s sari as my father is strangling my mother!” It helped me understand a little more his struggle to stop beating his wife.

Relationships between men and women can be heaven. They can be hell. How easily men learn they can dominate women! They learn to think they must keep them in line. They learn to treat women as subordinates, as possessions.

“Is a woman a person?” This is the title of Sudhir Kakar’s article, written not long after the nation-shocking rape in a Delhi bus of a young woman dubbed by the media as Nirbhaya.1 Kakar, an Indian psychoanalyst, explores the tension between Western and traditional views of women. Is a woman a person? The answer, it seems, is yes—so long as she is a mother, daughter, sister, or wife. If not, the answer is no. She is just an object, an object for the enjoyment of men, an object for the playhouses of their minds.

The article makes a great discussion point in my theology classes. Is a woman a person? Are men entitled to treat women as subordinate, as possessions? There is plenty of ill-treatment of women in the Bible. Does the Bible permit, even promote, this? Though God’s word comes through patriarchal settings, does it reinforce that patriarchy—or not? By looking at God’s purposes for men and women in creation and in new creation, focusing especially on 1 Corinthians 11:7 and Galatians 3:28, we will find the Bible certainly speaks today. The Bible presents a vision of equality and giftedness.

Men and Women in Creation

Equally Created

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them. (Gen 1:26–27 NRSV)

Right from the first chapter, God’s purposes for humanity focus on men and women. Their being made in his image distinguishes them from animals. We are told God “created humankind in his own image,” and immediately come the words “male and female he created them.” Traditionally, this has been seen merely as preparing the way for the topic of reproduction in the next verse. But is that all? Is it significant that there is mention of the sexual difference straightaway (unlike the animals)? When we ask what this sexual differentiation means for understanding the image of God,2 we unfold a richer meaning. The poetic parallelism is synonymous; the author intends us to see the second line further explains the first line. That means sexual difference is part of the image of God and hence that men and women are equally made in the image of God.

We should be careful not to derive too much significance from this one verse, but it already points us away from seeing the imago Dei3as primarily structural and, instead, as something that is also social. It is not some substance within us; rather, it is how we behave in community. When we attend to the larger biblical context surrounding Genesis 2:18, together with Ephesians 5:22–33, we see where the Bible is going with the sexual differentiation between men and women. In the former passage, we see God’s paradigm for all marriages; in the latter, all marriages point ultimately to the marriage—of Christ and the church. Marriage is linked, in the end, with the marriage supper of the Lamb. The image of God theme points us to the destiny of the new humanity in Christ.4 

How does sexual differentiation relate to the story of God’s ultimate purposes for humanity? Gender works to transform us by drawing us out of ourselves. Felipe do Vale sees gender as love. “Through loving,” he says, “we bring the beloved into ourselves and incorporate them into our stories. . . . [but because] love has its source and end in God, who is love . . . [the] social goods that we are called to love are to be loved as gifts from the Creator, according to the specifications set forth by the Giver, and in a right order. . . . The forces that shape us into godliness are the same forces that tell us who we are as gendered selves.”5 Using a different metaphor, Jonathan Grant says, “Our one-sidedness as either male or female creates a homing instinct that calls us beyond ourselves, to seek relationship with God and others.”6

Men and women feature centrally throughout the human story. We must now consider how they introduce the dramatic tension. Adam and Eve fall into sin.

Equally Fallen

It starts so well. God says, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a corresponding partner for him (Gen 2:18).” But in the Garden, Adam and Eve disobey God. Equally created, they are now equally fallen.

Much has been made of Paul’s observation that “Adam was not the one deceived; it was Eve who was deceived and became a sinner” (1 Tim 2:14 NIV). This follows Paul’s statement that he does not permit a woman to teach or assume authority over a man. Does Paul believe men are less prone to deception than women? Does this lead us to conclude only men should have leadership positions in the church? Cynthia Westfall gives good reasons why to do so would be to misunderstand Paul. Her wider study of what Paul says about temptation leads her to assert, “Even though Eve was a woman, according to Paul, the possibility of being tempted or deceived by Satan or sin is a universal experience. Eve’s deception is a paradigmatic example of the human condition.”7 Furthermore, after showing that “Christian women in Ephesus were being deceived in a way that was unparalleled in other churches,” she argues it is plausible to understand Paul’s prohibition in v. 12 to be based on Eve’s deception and transgression as an illustration of the deception of women and men in Ephesus. That is, the situation (perhaps some gullible women) in Ephesus, rather than an ontological flaw in all women, justitifies the ban on their teaching.8 Yes, some women are more prone to deception than some men, and this suited Paul’s point in 1 Timothy in that particular situation. But elsewhere, referring to the same Genesis event, Paul lays the blame on Adam. Paul teaches that sin entered the world through Adam (Rom 5:12–21, focusing on his humanity rather than his maleness). No, being prone to deception is not a universal principle for all women in all places. All humans can be deceived. We are equally fallen.

Equally Dignified in Cultural Cross-currents

Equal dignity has been rare. There is no doubt most cultures in history provide cross-currents for seeing women as equal in status with men. The culture in Paul’s day is no exception. What we know about women and attitudes toward them in the ancient world paints an awful picture. In Judaism, women were not counted in the quorum needed for a synagogue. Jewish men used to daily thank God that God had not made him “a Gentile, a slave, or a woman.”9 In Greco-Roman culture, things were worse.10 One ancient writer said women were the worst plague Zeus made. Ontologically, perfection, strength, and rationality were found in men; imperfection, weakness, and irrationality in women. Women, though useful, were sometimes considered mere chattels, without intelligence, without legal status. Extramarital sex was often seen as acceptable for a husband but as shameful for a wife. Infanticide and abandonment of female babies was widespread, more so than of males. By and large, women were viewed as inferior. “Disdain for women was almost universal.”11

How does Paul address this? Does Paul say women and men are equally bearers of God’s image? Or does he think men are privileged and women are subservient? Many think subservience is the basis of what Paul is arguing in 1 Cor 11:2–16.

In those verses, he is discussing the propriety of covering the head when the Corinthian Christians gather for worship. In v. 7, the reason he gives that a man ought not cover his head is: “since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man.” Paul is thinking of the Genesis creation narrative, for he continues in v. 8, “For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man” (NIV). So in light of this passage, the question is whether women and men bear the image of God in different ways. Are women subordinate to men? Or are they equally made in the image of God?

This is a rather famous crux. Many interpreters say women are subordinate by creation;12 others equal by creation.13 Part of the problem lies in the influence that culture has on our understanding and reading of Paul. What do we think of that ancient culture’s endorsement of the general subservience of women? How does our own culture think about the symbolism of head and of head coverings—whether hats, veils, or hair? The most persuasive reading of 1 Cor 11:7 is that women and men are equal by creation but inhabit cultural cross-currents.

Paul says that when the house church gathered for worship, men were to have their heads uncovered and women were to have their head covered. Why? It is common to assume that the women were flouting the convention of wearing a veil in the house church and Paul is correcting them. The opposite scenario makes a plausible and compelling reading: the women want to wear the veil, and Paul is correcting the men!14

What does the head covering mean? In my (Western) culture, the headcovering of a judge or a police officer signals authority, but a veil signals subservience or subordinate status. The meaning of veiling in Corinth (and many non-Western cultures today) was to signal modesty and to avoid signalling sexual availability. Veiling was typically restricted to the upper classes. In these verses, then, Paul is defending the women’s right to resist pressure to remove their veils. “Paul’s support of all women veiling equalized the social relationships in the community. . . . [It] secured respect, honor, and sexual purity for women in the church who were denied that status in the culture.”15 This view also makes sense of v. 10: “. . . a woman ought to have authority over her own head.” There is no need to understand this as a figure of speech which upturns the meaning of the grammar (as if they must wear a veil as a sign of [accepting the man’s] authority on their heads).

We have not yet talked about a key word found in v. 7: head. The same word is prominent in v. 3: “the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” (NIV). Compared with the English “head,” the Greek word translated “head” (kephalē) has a range of metaphorical meanings including “source of life.” “Source of life” makes good sense in this context. So v. 3 could be paraphrased, “But I want you to realize that every man’s life comes from Christ, woman’s life comes from man, and Christ’s life comes from God.” Paul’s words are not intended to convey hierarchy (and therefore patriarchy).16 Paul’s description balances the equality and the created distinction between man and woman, just as he later balances the priority of man’s creation (v. 8) with the interdependence of man and woman (vv. 11f.).

So what does v. 7 mean? “For a man should not have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God. But the woman is the glory of the man.” Paul is urging that “man shows his humility before God as the unadorned image of God, and woman shows honor to God, herself, and her family by diminishing her glory/beauty in public and in worship. . . . The fact that woman was created for man’s sake (1 Cor 11:9) indicates the purpose of her greater beauty and her attraction for men.”17 Paul is not diminishing women’s attributes but “sees them in a positive light: a woman’s hair is the glory of her head. Her hair is something valuable that needs to be protected and managed appropriately.”18 “Woman is the glory of man . . . describes the power women have over men.”19 So, v. 7 indicates that women are both made in the image of God and are the glory of man. This makes better sense than presuming women bear God’s image in a different and reduced way compared with men.

Notice Paul does not minimize the created distinction between man and woman. “Woman is the glory of man” highlights the distinctiveness of women. Since all are born of woman, men cannot exist without women. They fit; they are well suited for one another. We see this fit also in Genesis 2. For Adam, the animals do not fit, but the woman does. Adam rejoices in the identity-in-distinction, exclaiming she is “bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.” God-given sexual difference impels people generally to come together in marriage and in community. Paul’s treatment of veiling shows women and men appropriately expressing their gender differences in culturally specific ways that vary from culture to culture.

We have been looking at women and men in the light of creation. “In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Women and men are equally bearers of the image of God. They possess distinctive attributes necessarily expressed in diverse cultural situations. From among the various ways of expressing gender available in our contexts, we should choose those that express their equal dignity. Each culture tends to warp the equality or blur the diverse glories that woman and man each have. Keeping the focus right depends on not only looking backward to creation but also looking forward to the new creation.

Women and Men in the New Creation

If, in creation, God has made women and men equal (though distinctive) image bearers, how does God continue doing so in the new creation work in Christ? The NT sees a necessary continuity between creation and redemption. God’s purposes in eschatology provide confirming proof of his purposes in creation. The destiny of women and men reflects the purpose of God’s creation of humanity. More than this, Jesus is pivotal. “Human destiny—the full flowering of the image of God—has already been realized in Jesus’s resurrection.”20 In other words, because of Jesus, God’s new creation shines even more light on his purposes for women and men.

Not only are they equally made in the image of God, but women and men are also equally called to be in the image of God. This is true both in terms of ultimate destiny and our everyday character and service.

Equal Destiny

In Galatians 3, Paul describes the pivotal role of Christ in the unfolding purposes of God. Until Christ came we were “under the law”; now we are “in Christ” (Gal 3:23–26). Grace supercedes law. It is not that, with the coming of the New Covenant, the law has disappeared and we can now do whatever we like. Rather the law has been put “in our minds and written in our hearts.”21 Because Christ has fulfilled the law, stunningly, his obedience is counted as ours. The law was our guardian, making sure we knew God was our Judge (v. 24). Now by faith we are free as children of God, our Father (v. 26). Like a sonic boom, Christ’s coming means God’s sure goal has broken into the world. He has begun to change and perfect everything. In language Paul uses elsewhere, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation” (2 Cor 5:17 NRSV). “The renewal of the individual in conversion prefigures the renewal of the cosmos at the end.”24

As Paul makes explicit in Galatians 3, our point is this: women and men share equally in this new reality, this eschatological hope.

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Gal 3:26–29 NIV)

Men and women have the same eschatological hope without distinction. We share an equal destiny. Read it again: “. . . Nor is there male and female.” Along with the distinctions of race and rank, in God’s new creation the distinction of sex becomes irrelevant. Paul is emphatically asserting the equality of the sexes. Of course, he does not mean these distinctions are actually obliterated. We do not ignore people’s sex, treating someone as if they were actually the opposite sex or somehow neuter. John Stott clarifies, “When we say that Christ has abolished these distinctions, we mean not that they do not exist, but that they do not matter. They are still there, but they no longer create any barriers to fellowship.”23

“Paul fully and explicitly includes women and men in humanity’s final destiny. In Galatians 3:26–4:1, this destiny will be one of rule and authority, as God’s children and equal heirs in Christ.”24 Women and men will equally rule with Christ. Furthermore, in Christ, we anticipate the same resurrection body as Christ’s, regardless of gender.25

The problem is, however, that barriers for women in the church have often remained. Paul’s logic has been traditionally resisted. One would think their equal created dignity and their equal share in destiny would lead the church to encourage all to achieve their God-given potential in skills and leadership, regardless of their sex. The actual loss of a share in authority and rule for women is the result of the fall in Genesis 3:16. It is part of a general corruption of power in human relationships, which sin has brought about. There is no justification for mistreating or subordinating women.

Some have suggested the fact that Adam was created first requires a hierarchy, with men over women. But to qualify what he means about Adam’s priority and to exclude hierarchy, Paul asserts a balancing interdependence (1 Cor 11:11). Of the people of God, only Jesus has a superior status; only he is the firstborn.26

It has been persuasive for me to reflect on the maleness of Jesus. Does the incarnation mean men are more God-like than women? Are men more closely related to Christ than women are and therefore more truly human? The simple answer is no.27 One reason is that men and women are equally “brought into union with Christ through the power of the Spirit so that we come to take on the very characteristics of Christ.”28 The fact that Christ was a man does not somehow privilege all males.

We have asserted women and men equally image God and alike will share a resurrection body like Christ’s. That we all may “take on the very characteristics of Christ” leads us to consider our equal calling.

Equal Calling

Equally made in God’s image, we are equally called to bear his image. The same Spirit at work bringing us to our destiny is at work forming the Christian’s character and service in daily life. Being in Christ means becoming increasingly like Christ. Indeed, this is the central characteristic of salvation; becoming like him is the fruit of our union with Christ. Our point is this: women and men alike are called to become like Christ. The Bible calls all people to be holy and Christlike. There is no hint that men can become more holy than women.

Christlikeness is spiritual and ethical. While our life is always embodied, Christlikeness is never pictured in relation to body shape or eye colour—or gender. Being like Jesus does not mean wearing sandals or becoming carpenters or remaining unmarried29—or becoming masculine.

None of our bodies look like Jesus’s; that is not the goal. But we will all become like him in character, for as John writes, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure” (1 John 3:2–3 NIV). “Love, joy, peace . . . ” The fruit of the Spirit is the picture of Christlikeness in both women and men. Women and men are equally called to purity and self-sacrifice, to authentic transformation and service.30

Consonant with all this, God equally enables women and men to serve him. Protestants routinely say we believe in the priesthood of all believers—and rightly so. This is fundamental to Paul’s famous call to worship and service in the body of Christ in Romans 12:1–8. We are all urged to offer our bodies as living sacrifices. In vv. 3–5, we are called to diverse service in unity. God has given each of us spiritual gifts to benefit the body of Christ, the church. Notice that Paul urges us to evaluate what our personal gift is according to “faith” (v. 3) and to “grace given to each of us” (v. 6). It is problematic when men claim that a woman’s faith and experience are invalid in discerning her gift. In vv. 6–8, Paul teaches that gifts are given to meet the needs of the body of Christ. The list of seven gifts Paul gives is representative rather than exhaustive, but he covers a wide range: prophecy, serving, teaching, exhortation, giving, leadership (which links with elders and deacons), and mercy. It is significant that God gives spiritual gifts to women as well as to men. Paul sees no need in Romans 12 to teach that half of what he is saying does not apply to half of his audience! The truth is that spiritual gifts are given by God without restriction as to sex.

How sad it is when Christian men reserve for themselves the gifts of leadership and teaching, and restrict women’s participation.31 Exclusive male leadership is in the long run toxic and unjust. Ultimately, it reflects a different theology for women than for men.

What is needed is recognition that God equally calls women and men to serve him in the church and in mission—where unjust cross-currents will certainly be encountered even more. To please the Lord, Christian women and men need to be Christlike and adaptable.

Equally Self-Sacrificial in Cultural Cross-Currents

In the Pastoral Epistles, Paul teaches how the young churches where Timothy and Titus serve should live as a community and among unbelievers. Similarly, in passages often called household codes, Ephesians 5:22–6:9 and Colossians 3:18–4:1 offer advice directed to wives, husbands, children, parents, slaves, and masters. We can learn from the way he gives different advice to each group. Slaves are taught to obey; masters to be just. Wives to submit; husbands to love. In Ephesians 5:22, 25 we read, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. . . . Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for . . . ” (NIV).

What does Paul mean? The word submit means “be courteously respectful,” yielding one’s own rights. It is a grateful acceptance of love, not grovelling obedience. In 1 Cor 11:3, Paul sees a creational model of headship meaning “source.” Here he adds a model of the headship of Christ in relation to the church. The church willingly submits to Christ. Submission and headship are powder keg words. That is because of their connection with power.

Headship is not hierarchy. Some men exercise control and make all the decisions, either openly or secretly. That is simply tyranny. It is as if he remotely controls an electric dog collar on his wife’s neck. Headship conceived as control leads to power games. One seeks to dominate, either by open demand, by physical violence, by playing the victim, or even by threatening suicide.

Rather, headship is self-sacrificial love. In between tyranny and rivalry are marriages in which husband and wife display something more mysterious. Headship is reverent responsibility. The head is the source of the provision of life in a relationship of equals. But this is a priority of love not of power. Paul could have echoed Jesus’s teaching about servant leadership. It is not about “lording it over others.” Marriage is like a dance, where mutual submission (v. 21) is how we dance, respecting our distinctives (vv. 22–33). A wife’s submission is self-sacrificial; a husband’s headship is also self-sacrificial, and this is exactly what Paul emphasises as expected of husbands.

Back then, the most strikingly countercultural line in these marriage instructions is Paul’s command to husbands, and that is why he dwells on it four times as long!32 Most interpreters see that the effect of Paul’s teaching is to soften the hard edges of the hierarchical social structures in the ancient world. The question is whether Paul agrees with them and is urging believers to conform or whether he disagrees with them and aims to subvert. In the new creation, God is now actively reversing the fall, equally bringing women as well as men toward the completion of their same destiny. Paul’s “in Christ” vision has missional and therefore also sociological implications. What is true “in Christ” needs to become a practical reality insofar as mission priorities allow.33 Paul is arguing, in other words, “for the entire church to adopt a missional and self-sacrificial adaptation to fallen social structures of the Greco-Roman world as a strategy to advance the gospel. . . . Like secret agents, Paul wanted his communities to fit in as much as possible; they did the same things that their neighbours did yet for eschatological reasons: they served another king and belonged to another kingdom.”34

So, when Paul enjoins submission of women to their husbands in keeping with the Greco-Roman setting and upends that culture by requiring self-sacrificial love of men to their wives, his motive is not conformity, but subversion. Each sacrifices their right to self-determination. It is the Saviour, the head, who determines. Each is impelled to generous service to the other. To people in our context wondering if submission to God’s lordship reduces their humanity, Christian communities and marriages can demonstrate submission to God’s authority that is liberating. Indeed, as something penultimate, marriage points to the ultimate mystery of Christ and the church, in which our calling to self-sacrificial love finds its final purpose.

Conclusion     

Whether we are looking back to creation or forward to the new creation, the Bible teaches us that men and women have equal dignity and destiny. In God’s purposes, by grace and faith, sexual difference draws us out of ourselves into community and to his ultimate goal of eternal fellowship with him.

God has three purposes for gender. They are transformative, missional, and unitive. That is, God’s purpose is to foster in us love, like his, that transforms us as individuals, incorporates us in community, and unites us in fellowship with himself. Here are some lessons.

First, God wants us to become morally like him. Since he regards women and men as equally made in his image, we should respect them equally. Created equal in dignity, women and men live in interdependence. Societies that celebrate women and men as equal image-bearers flourish. Their created equality means women are never possessions of men, not even of husbands. Disability or gender deficit35 does not disqualify people from that equal status. Furthermore, women and men are equally called to become image bearers. In Christ, there is no male and female. Women and men share an equal destiny: we are all to be holy. Holiness is not somehow easier for men, as if they were more truly human. Women and men are equally given gifts to serve the community and the church. So we should encourage all to achieve their God-given potential in skills and leadership, regardless of their sex. Women and men are called to share dominion.

Second, God wants us to be fruitful. When we face cultural cross-currents to God’s purposes, mission informs how we adapt to culture. From among the various ways of expressing gender available in our context, we should choose those that express the equal dignity of women and men and the counterintuitive power of mutual submission. Whether our context favours tyranny or rivalry, Christian women and men should live out their equal dignity through self-sacrificial love. We share in God’s mission of drawing all people together under the headship of Christ, in whom we find true freedom in submission. We must be willing to upend our culture’s gender stereotypes and rampant consumerism for the sake of the gospel.

Third, God wants us for fellowship with himself. God aims to teach us to love him. To lose ourselves for the sake of another, against all insecurities and self-centredness, is Christlike. At the marriage supper of the Lamb, there will only be women and men whose love for Christ has eclipsed their love for themselves.

Notes

This article is an edited version of a chapter in Ian Payne’s forthcoming book, The Message of Humanity, in The Bible Speaks Today series (IVP, 2025).

  1. Times of India (Jan 9, 2013).
  2. Latin for “the image of God.”
  3. See Stanley Grenz, The Social God and the Relational Self: A Trinitarian Theology of the Imago Dei (Westminster John Knox, 2001) 270ff.
  4. Filipe do Vale, Gender as Love: A Theological Account of Human Identity, Embodied Desire, and our Social Worlds (Baker Academic, 2023) 238.
  5. Jonathan Grant, Divine Sex: A Compelling Vision for Christian Relationships in a Hypersexualized Age (Brazos, 2015) 146.
  6. Gen 2:18. The Hebrew word for “helper” (ezer) does not connote subordination, for in its usage the most common reference is to God.
  7. Cynthia Long Westfall, Paul and Gender: Reclaiming the Apostle’s Vision for Men and Women in Christ (Baker Academic, 2016) 111. Note that, in 2 Cor 11:3, Paul fears that the Corinthian church (not just the women there) might be led astray.
  8. Westfall, Paul and Gender, 117f.
  9. William Barclay, The Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians, Daily Study Bible, rev. ed. (Theological Publications in India, 1976, 1991) 168.
  10. Westfall, Paul and Gender, 14ff.
  11. John R. W. Stott, The Message of Ephesians (IVP, 1979) 224. See further, Lynn H. Cohick, Women in the World of the Earliest Christians: Illuminating Ancient Ways of Life (Baker Academic, 2009).
  12. E.g., D. J. A. Clines, “Image of God,” in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, ed. Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid (IVP, 1993) 426ff.
  13. E.g., Westfall, Paul and Gender, 61–69.
  14. Westfall, Paul and Gender, 26, 32.
  15. Westfall, Paul and Gender, 33–34.
  16. Gordon Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, NICNT (Eerdmans, 1987) 502.
  17. Westfall, Paul and Gender, 40f.
  18. Westfall, Paul and Gender, 40f.
  19. Westfall, Paul and Gender, 67. See also 1 Esdras 4:14–17.
  20. Kevin Vanhoozer, “Human Being, Individual and Social,” in The Cambridge Companion to Christian Doctrine, ed. Colin Gunton (Cambridge University Press, 1997) 173.
  21. Jer 31:32. The result is we now want to obey the law and by grace, in Christ, we can, though until heaven imperfectly so.
  22. Murray J. Harris, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text, NIGTC (Eerdmans, 2005) 427.
  23. John R. W. Stott, The Message of Galatians (IVP, 1968) 100.
  24. Westfall, Paul and Gender, 147.
  25. 1 Cor 15:49.
  26. Rom 8:29; Col 1:15ff.
  27. Lack of space precludes further discussion. See Marc Cortez’s chapter, “The Male Messiah,” in his ReSourcing Theological Anthropology: A Constructive Account of Humanity in the Light of Christ (Zondervan, 2017) 190–211.
  28. Cortez, “The Male Messiah,” 210.
  29. Being unmarried is not a shortcoming, and marriage is not required for holiness. Jesus and Paul were unmarried, and Paul commends its advantages in 1 Cor 7.
  30. Rom 12:1–2.
  31. It seems tendentious to interpret 1 Tim 2:12 to universally deny women can teach when contradiction with 1 Cor 11:5 is a result, and when clearer and more significant passages such as Rom 12:1–8, 1 Cor 12:1–29, and Eph 4:7–13 apply equally to women as to men. 1 Cor 14:34 can similarly unfortunately be used to deny women’s participation when its concern is with disorderly “chatter.”
  32. After all, they had the most cultural power.
  33. “The Jew-Gentile issue was the greatest stumbling block for the gospel in Paul’s day. While Paul granted slaves and females equality ‘in Christ,’ there was not the same kind of urgency in terms of working out the social dynamics.” William J. Webb, Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis (IVP, 2001) 86.
  34. Westfall, Paul and Gender, 147, 161.
  35. Such as is experienced by people who are intersex, or DSD (disorders of sex development).