Answer to Part 1

At the end of the Abandonment of Hermeneutics Part 1 I asked you to think about the case made by Egalitarians and Matthew 28:1-10 and to do so with a Covenantal approach to the text. What did you find?

By looking at the text in a covenantal context with the rest of Scripture’s teaching we can ascertain what this passage has to teach us on the subject at hand.

Now what does this have to do with hermeneutics you ask? Simply it shows that taken in the context of the whole of Scripture, and as Reformed believers we confess that the only proper way to read Scripture is by looking at other Scripture or in other words we are to take less clear Scripture passages and to compare them to more clear passages (cf. WCF 1:9), we can be sure that Matthew 28:1-10 not only does not speak to women’s roles in the Church it has nowhere in its purview Church roles at all.

I also want to note as an aside the novelty of the Egalitarian approach to this text. Not a single, that is ZERO, commentators prior to the 20th century EVER even remotely took Matthew 28:1-10  to have anything to do with Jesus giving a leadership role in giving the message of the Gospel for the women at the tomb to take to the Peter and the rest of the Disciples.

Matthew Henry

(1.) The disciples of Christ must first be told the news; not, Go, tell the chief priests and the Pharisees, that they may be confounded; but, Tell the disciples, that they may be comforted. God anticipates the joy of his friends more than the shame of his enemies, though the perfection of both is reserved for hereafter. Tell his disciples; it may be they will believe your report, however tell them, [1.] That they may encourage themselves under their present sorrows and dispersions. It was a dismal time with them, between grief and fear; what a cordial would this be to them now, to hear, their Master is risen! [2.] That they may enquire further into it themselves. This alarm was sent them, to awaken them from that strange stupidity which had seized them, and to raise their expectations. This was to set them on seeking him, and to prepare them for his appearance to them. General hints excite to closer searches. They shall now hear of him, but shall very shortly see him. Christ discovers himself gradually.

(2.) The women are sent to tell it to them, and so are made, as it were, the apostles of the apostles. This was an honour put upon them, and a recompence for their constant affectionate adherence to him, at the cross, and in the grave, and a rebuke to the disciples who forsook him. Still God chooses the weak things of the world, to confound the mighty, and puts the treasure, not only into earthen vessels, but here into the weaker vessels; as the woman, being deceived by the suggestions of an evil angel, was first in the transgression (1 Tim. ii. 14), so these women, being duly informed by the instructions of a good angel, were first in the belief of the redemption from transgression by Christ’s resurrection, that that reproach of their sex might be rolled away, by putting this in the balance against it, which is their perpetual praise.

John Calvin

7. And go quickly, and tell his disciples. Here God, by the angel, confers extraordinary honor on the women, by enjoining them to proclaim to the apostles themselves the chief point of our salvation. In Mark’s account of it, they are expressly enjoined to carry this message to Peter; not because he was at that time higher in rank than the others, but because his crime, which was so disgraceful, needed peculiar consolation to assure him that Christ had not cast him off, though he had basely and wickedly fallen. He had already entered into the sepulcher, and beheld the traces of the resurrection of Christ; but God denied him the honor, which he shortly afterwards conferred on the women, of hearing from the lips of the angel that Christ was risen. And, indeed, the great insensibility under which he still labored is evident from the fact that he again fled trembling to conceal himself, as if he had seen nothing, while Mary sat down to weep at the grave. It cannot be doubted, therefore, that she and her companions, in beholding the angel, obtained the reward of their patience.

These are just two examples but I can assure you that these two commentators are the norm as far as the last 1900 years of writings on the subject are concerned. I’ll have more on this later today but right now I am taking my daughters to the park.


7 thoughts on “Answer to Part 1

  1. And to answer the actual question from the post, I will assert again that this text is but one piece of the argument. Nothing in the Reformed tradition would disallow our proffering a new reading of the whole counsel of God. But that new reading would have to be checked against the evidences of the Word itself.

    I guess that it will always seem to me a thin argument that the apostles set down for all time that women are forever forbidden from any kind of leadership or teaching ministry. Can I see how someone else could reach that conclusion? Sure. Just as I can see how someone could read the Bible and limit the church to singing psalms. But again, I still think its pretty thin.

    I have yet to see any biblical evidence that a qualified, godly woman preaching is somehow committing a violation of God’s intention. If the Covenant of Grace is extended to all people who are elect, then on some level there is still an incompleteness within the community of Christ when we shut women out from taking an equal place in the church.

    I also have yet to see how a woman taking a leadership position in the church is ‘taking authority’ over a man. It just seems like a stretch. And then, when we forbid women from preaching when they are called to preach (as I beleive they CAN be) then we consign them to the liberals.

    Perhaps that’s the greatest tragedy in all of this. Our Reformed Orthodox forebears gave the women over to the forces of darkness.

    Now, I await the TR’s to label me a liberal and consign me to the flames…

  2. I’m with you Toby. Matthew 28 is ancillary, at best, to any discussion of the role of women in ministry. My favorite passage is Joel and Acts in which God says, two times that men and women are involved in teaching:

    Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your young men will see visions,
    your old men will dream dreams.
    Even on my servants, both men and women,
    I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
    and they will prophesy.

    Now, if we’re dispensationalist we could say that prophesy ceased with the Apostle John’s death but since we’re reformed we have to redefine prophecy in terms of teaching which somehow NOW is limited to male.

    The other social aspect I enjoy reflecting on when it comes to this issue is how we don’t want the women-folk to teach men who are mature but we’re willing to give them control of the Sunday School Classes where the young men, children are more impressionable. Doesn’t that sound a bit like General Assembly logic?


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