The Bible Teaches The Equal Standing Of Man And Woman -- By: Philip B. Payne

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 29:1 (Winter 2015)
Article: The Bible Teaches The Equal Standing Of Man And Woman
Author: Philip B. Payne


The Bible Teaches The Equal Standing Of Man And Woman

Philip B. Payne

Philip B. Payne, PhD in NT, University of Cambridge, is well known for his original research regarding New Testament textual criticism, the parables of Jesus, and his book, Man and Woman, One in Christ (Zondervan, 2009). He has taught New Testament in colleges of the University of Cambridge, at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Bethel Seminary, and Fuller Seminary Northwest.

Is the Bible divided on the issue of gender? Many highly respected evangelical scholars believe there is a tension in the Bible between affirmations of gender equality and gender roles. Can we arrive at a consistent biblical position without doing violence to the text? Need one sacrifice good exegesis at the altar of systematic theology? Surely, good exegesis and good systematic theology go hand in hand. I have prayerfully wrestled for forty-one years with the texts’ apparent contradictions on gender and can honestly say that the biblical texts themselves have transformed my understanding. From creation to new creation, the Bible’s message about gender in the church and marriage consistently affirms the equal standing of man and woman.

Women In The Old Testament

Woman In The Creation And After The Fall

Genesis presents gender equality, rather than male leadership, as humanity’s created state.1 It teaches that man and woman are created equally in the image of God and together have dominion over the earth (Gen 1:26-27). Their equality is not limited to spiritual standing before God, but applies to their dominion over the earth. God blessed man and woman and charged them both in verse 28: “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over . . . every living thing that moves upon the earth.”

The structure of the creation narrative climaxes in the creation of woman, fulfilling man’s need for a partner corresponding to him (Gen 2:18, 20). The text describes woman being created to be the man’s ʿēzer kĕnegĕdô, literally, “a strength corresponding to him.” Unfortunately, the word ʿēzer here is often translated “helper,” which, in English, implies a subordinate or servant. Never in the Bible, however, does ʿēzer suggest “helper” as in “servant,” but almost always describes God as his people’s rescuer, strength, or might.2 The most authoritative bibl...

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