Complementarian and Egalitarian Bible verses

I’m not planning today to go through the arguments for and against egalitarianism or complementarianism. I thought instead that as a follow up to my “spectrum” post I would share some of the key Scripture passages that people on both sides of this debate believe are important in our understanding of this debate. If you can think of any other crucial passages I have left out, do let me know in the comments section below, via Twitter, or email.

As I mentioned yesterday, I will discussing this subject in more detail on the Premier Christian Radio program Unbelievable? this Saturday with Rachel Held Evans and Owen Strachan. You can listen in online as it is broadcast at 2:30pm UK time or download it afterwards.

  • So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27 ESV)
  • Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” (Genesis 2:18 ESV)
  • “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16, see also whole chapter)
  • But God said to Abraham, “Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named. (Genesis 21:12 ESV)
  • “by the God of your father who will help you” (Genesis 49:25 ESV) (same word as used of Eve in Gen 2)
  • Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. . . (Judges 4:4 ESV, see whole story)
  • Huldah the prophetess (2 Chronicles 34)
  • An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life . . . She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable . . . Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them . . . Strength and dignity are her clothing . . . She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue . . . Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands,and let her works praise her in the gates. (Proverbs 31:10-31 ESV)
  • “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit. (Joel 2:28-29 ESV, fulfilled in Acts 3)
  • “I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. (Micah 6:4 ESV)
  • Jesus honors and listens to a Cannanite Woman (Matthew 15:22-28)
  • But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28 ESV)
  • Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means. (Luke 8:1-3 ESV)
  • And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:39-42 ESV)
  • Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. (Luke 24:10-11 ESV see also other empty tomb appearances to women)
  • Jesus and the Samaritan woman (John 4)
  • Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (John 6:29 ESV)
  • So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. (John 5:19 ESV)
  • All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. (Acts 1:14 ESV)
  • He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. (Acts 18:26 ESV)
  • He had four unmarried daughters, who prophesied. (Acts 21:9 ESV)
  • I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well. (Romans 16:1-2 ESV)
  • Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles [some translations: among the apostles], and they were in Christ before me. (Romans 16:6-7 ESV)
  • But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. (1 Corinthians 11:3 ESV)
  • . . .every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. . .For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. (1 Corinthians 11:5-12 ESV)
  • Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)
  • There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28 ESV)
  • For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:21-22 ESV)
  • For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:27-28 ESV)
  • For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1 Corinthians 7:4-5 ESV)
  • …submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.(Ephesians 5:15-33 ESV)
  • I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. (Philippians 4:2-3 ESV)
  • Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. (Colossians 4:15 ESV)
  • Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality. Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven. (Colossians 3:18-4:1 ESV)
  • . . .likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. (1 Timothy 2:9-15 ESV)
  • “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife . . .” (1 Tim 3:1)
  • Their wives [some translations: the women, or deaconesses] likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things . . . (1 Timothy 3:11 ESV)
  • This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you—if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife. . . (Titus 1:5-6 ESV)
  • Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct . . . For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:1-7 ESV)
  • So I exhort the elders among you . . . shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock . . .Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:1-5 ESV)

 

About Adrian Warnock

Adrian Warnock has been a blogger since April 2003, and part of the leadership team of Jubilee Church, London for more than ten years, serving alongside Tope Koleoso. His book, Raised With Christ - How The Resurrection Changes Everything was published by Crossway, January 2010. Read more about Adrian Warnock or connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

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  • http://twitter.com/UnbelievableJB/status/251646897171857408/ @UnbelievableJB

    @adrianwarnock on the relevant Bible verses ahead of tomorrow’s @rachelheldevans @ostrachan men & women debate http://t.co/IpfZwd1N

  • http://peaceegalitarianism.blogspot.com Brian Bowman

    I think one of the strongest verses against “complimentarian” Hierarchy, i.e., Lording-It-Over others, and for the autonomous and sovereign individual viewpoint found in Egalitarian sociopolitical relationships is Mark 10:42-43, as follows:

    Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.”

    • john8

      I strenuously object to your characterization that complementarian = Lording it over. In your text it goes on to say that even Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, God incarnate, came to serve. If Jesus can exercise authority as a servant then by his power any man can.
      Or are you saying that when Jesus became a servant he gave up all his authority? Because by saying authority by definition means lording it over either Jesus had no authority or he was lording it over. Rather the text indicates Jesus had all authority at the same time that he was a servant to all. This is the model of complementarian leadership of Jesus as well as how it is taught in the Scriptures. Because some men still lord it over do not mean authority itself is wrong, or male leadership is wrong. It simply means that people are still sinners. Repentance is the response not twisting Scriptures.
      And may I add most of the Scriptures above that appear to support egalitartian view are simply narratives of women praying, serving, prophesying and doing amazing things – yet they don’t have anything to do with the issue at hand which is authority in the home and church.