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Women and Children First: The Restoration Headship

1 Cor 11:3 “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.”

For the Corinthian church, the new liberation for women in the church was needing some instruction. For the first time, many of these women now had a sense of dignity. In roman culture they had no rights, now they are citizens of heaven.

They had no education, now women are learning at the feet of Jesus, and from Peter and Paul and Apollos in the church at Corinth.

They had no position in Roman culture… but now they are parts of the body of Christ... each gifted along with the men to serve the body, to proclaim Christ, to make disciples, as they worship Christ together...…

But the body is in chaos because they have not grasped some basic principles, and have not understood some of the differences in function that will lead to harmony in the family, and church, and in turn influence the culture around them. It will reinforce the clarity of the Gospel, and show the power of transformation for every family.... it all has to do with finding your head. It's going to be the difference between reviving the church and repulsing the culture....

Today we are looking at the biblical principle of “Headship, and “complementarianism”: means that men and women exist with a divine design that guides their life. Their values and dignity exist with full equality, and still their different functions in marriage and the church “complement” their differences. We are “equal, but different.”

As a complementarian, I believe the Bible teaches gender distinctions, and unique functions in the family that include headship, and submission (1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:23), principles that are affirmed in the church in some governing and teaching roles(1 Cor. 14:33–34; 1 Tim. 2:12). It would also mean I believe biblical headship and authority of husbands are subordinate to God’s headship and authority (Eph. 3:15; Col. 1:18), that we are to be ruled by the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22–23), and that heads are essentially called to be servant-hearted and sacrificial, and not overbearing or abusive toward those under their authority (Mark 10:42–45).

Who would be opposed to this?

Let's see what God wants us to get a grasp on...

There are a few things for us to get ahold of here.

1. What should we get ahold of? The Blueprint of “Headship”.

  • Usually, it speaks of a literal head: So, when Herodias, the wife of Herod, ordered the head of John the Baptist brought to her on a platter because she knew that would slow John down to a point where she could handle him.

Wayne Grudem’s study of the word kephale shows the word use in 2300 examples of classical greek had the literal meaning in mind over 87% of the time.

  • Now when head is used metaphorically, figuratively, as it is here, it refers to priority in function. That is what the head of our body does; it runs the body; it is in charge; it is the direction setter of the body. Used metaphorically, therefore, the word head means primarily leadership, and this is its use in this passage.

Andreas Köstenberger: “While the senses “source” and “pre-eminent” have been proposed for kephalē, no passage is extant where that sense is favored by the context. In fact, every time one person is referred to as the “head” of another person in both biblical and extrabiblical literature, the person who is the “head” has authority over the other person and kephalē conveys the notion of authority.” (
  • Gen 2:7 “then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”

  • Jer 18:2-4 ““Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.”

2. What should we get ahold of? Boundaries of headship

  1. "the head of every man is Christ."

    1. Here is a declaration of Christ's right to lead the whole human race. He is the leader of the race in the mind and thinking of God, and ultimately, as Scripture tells us, there will come a day when all humanity, without exception, shall bow the knee and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord Romans 14:11, Philippians 2:11). So whether men know it or not, Christ is their head, and they are responsible to follow him. Hebrews 5:9 “And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.” He is the one who goes before; the one who opens the way as the authority, and starting point. He is the the determiner of every man's destiny, the One to be followed. He is the firstborn over all creation.

    2. It can also indicate the role christ has in the life of every individual believer. Christ is the head of my life. He is not only the source of my life, he is the authority of my life personally. I can’t be saved without him being LORD.

      • Luke 9:23 “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

      • Matt 7:22-24 “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”

      • Phil 2:10-11 “so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

2. “The head of a wife is her husband.”

  1. Man’s headship goes back to Gen 3:16 “To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”” This passage designates both the design and the brokenness of that design.

  2. The opening chapters of Genesis narrate God’s creation first of Adam, then of Eve from and for Adam as his “suitable helper” (Gen. 2:18, 20). The notion of Adam’s “headship,” that is, his position of ultimate responsibility and authority for his marriage and family, is supported by a series of factors:

    • Adam’s creation prior to the woman

    • Adam’s naming of the animals prior to the creation of Eve

    • Adam’s naming of Eve subsequent to God’s creation of her

    • God’s holding Adam—not Eve—responsible for his and Eve’s sin even though Eve had sinned first

    • the woman’s designation as the man’s “suitable helper”

  • It is not saying that women are inferior: mutual submission indicates equality in value and dignity.

  • It is not saying that women are to be forced to submit: submit different from children

  • It is not saying that women are to submit to every man…HER OWN husband.

  • Seems it is only temporary: Matt 22:30 “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”

    1. Köstenberger, “man is created first and is given ultimate responsibility for the marriage relationship, while the woman is placed alongside the man as his ‘suitable helper’…the man carries ultimate responsibility before God as the head of the woman” (God, Marriage, and Family, 23).

    2. Robert Saucy, men must always have “ultimate responsibility and leadership” in marriage and church (Women and Men in Ministry, 162).

    3. Ray Ortlund, “the man bears the primary responsibility to lead the partnership in a God-glorifying direction” (RBMW 86).

    4. John Piper and Wayne Grudem, “the calling of men [is to] bear the primary responsibility for teaching and leadership” (RBMW, 70).

3. "the head of Christ is God."

Jesus, the Son of God, equal to the Father in his deity, but, when he assumes humanity, submits himself to the leadership of the Father.

  • He said, "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30)

  • Yet, he also said, "I do always those things which please my Father."

  • On one occasion he said, "My meat is to do my Father's will, and to please him who sent me," John 4:34). , i.e., we work together.

  • He adds on still another occasion, "My Father is greater than I," (John 14:28).

Eph 4:1-6 “I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

Conclusion idea:

Judges 5:1-2 “Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day: “That the leaders took the lead in Israel, that the people offered themselves willingly, bless the Lord!”

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