The Subordination Challenge: #3 -- By: Gilbert Bilezikian

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 16:2 (Spring 2002)
Article: The Subordination Challenge: #3
Author: Gilbert Bilezikian

The Subordination Challenge: #3

Proponents of female subordination are herein asked to prove their case from the Bible.

Gilbert Bilezikian

Gilbert Bilezikian is professor emeritus of Biblical Studies at Wheaton College (IL) and cofounder of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois. Among the books of which he is the author are Beyond Sex Roles and Community 101.

Challenge #3

Cite a text from the Bible that defines the headship of Christ to the church as a relation of authority or of leadership.

The challenge above is the third of ten being presented here to prompt Christians to grapple with biblical facts rather than accept unquestioningly traditional assumptions about female roles and, by so doing, blindly follow institutionalized misreadings of Scripture.

The Facts

The New Testament defines the headship ministry of Christ to the church as a servant relationship designed to provide the church with life and growth. This headship is never presented as an authority or lordship position.

Ephesians 1:22-23. Christ is supremely and universally sovereign, but as head for the church, it is not said that he rules over it. Instead, he provides his body with the fullness of him who fills all in all. He causes the church to grow and flourish.

Ephesians 4:15-16. Christ as head provides the body with oneness, cohesion, and growth. This is a servant-provider role, not one of rulership.

Ephesians 5:23. Christ is head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. His headship to the church is defined as saviorhood, which is biblically defined as a servant, self-sacrificing function, not a lordship role.

Colossians 1:18. Christ is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead. As its head, Christ is the source of the church’s life.

Colossians 2:19. Christ is the head from whom the whole body grows, because it is nourished by him. He is servant-provider of life and growth to the church.

Obviously, Christ is Lord of all and therefore Lord of the church. But never does the New Testament define Christ’s relation to the church as its head in terms of lordship, authority, or rulership. As head to the church, Christ is always the servant who gives the church all she needs to become his radiant Bride. So is the husband to his wife (Eph. 5:25-30), within a relationship of mutual submission (v. 21).

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