HEADSHIP IN THE NEW TESTAMENT.
282. The “head” in the symbolic language of the Revelation (where alone it is used in pure symbolism in the N. T., aside from the headship of Christ and of the husband), does not signify rule. The red dragon has diadems on his seven heads to signify rule (Revelation 12:3); the Beast has diadems on his horns (not on his heads) to signify rule (Revelation 13:1); the diadem, not the head, is a symbol of rule in these instances. The heads in each case signify divisions; the diadems, rule. The teaching is that all divisions of rule unite in the dragon, and in the Beast, in turn; they obtain universal sovereignty. In Revelation 17:9, 10, we read: “The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth: and they are seven kings” (R. V.). This refers to the Beast and the Scarlet Woman on the Beast. Here the symbolism is support. Seven mountains support the foundation of this great city, and seven kings support her rule (Revelation 17:18). The Woman rules these “heads;” they do not rule her.
283. “Head” (kephale), in the N. T. is used in the same way as “head” (rosh) in the O. T. for “chief,” in speaking of Christ as the “head of the corner” in six different passages; but these are quotations of, or references to, Psalm 118:22, “The stone which the builders refused is become the head of the corner.” The head or cornerstone gave support to the entire building and was usually of immense size for this purpose; it also bound the sides of a building together. So Christ is the support of His church, and binds its members together into one (Ephesians 4:15-16; Colossians 2:19).
284. We have shown (pars. 248-250) that St. Paul is not teaching the subordination of wife to husband, in 1 Corinthians 11:3-16, unless it be implied in the one phrase, “of a wife the husband is a head;” and we waived the discussion of this symbolism until the present time. As we have already said, the only other place where it is stated that the husband is head of the wife, is Ephesians 5:23, and there we are told in what sense he is head,–as Christ also is Head of the Church” (R. V.). Christ is the cornerstone of the church,–its support, Builder. For Christ is no mere stone; He lives, and Christians are represented by St. Paul as growing “up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ” (Ephesians 4:15). And Colossians 2:19 describes Christ as “the Head, from which all the Body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.” Neither of these two passages refers to Christ’s government. They represent Him as the support, nourisher and builder of the Body, its Savior.
285. But Ephesians 1:22 does speak of Christ’s Headship as a reign. God “hath put in subjection all things under His feet” (R. V.); and the preceding verse informs us that this means that all “principalities and powers” are put under Him. But where is His church? The opening verses of the next chapter tells us. We have been quickened, and raised up with Christ. The Church is not, therefore, under His feet, in this headship of governments; it is designed that the Church share His rule,–Revelation 1:6; 3:21; 20:4, etc. We are taught that God gave Him “to be Head over all things to the Church.” He is God’s gift “to the Church” that we might share His headship over all things; as Dean Alford says here: “He possesses nothing for Himself . . . but all things for His Church, which is in innermost reality Himself,”–speaking, of course, of the mystical Body.
286. Christ began to found that Church when He said, “Tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high,” then, “Go ye into all the world “. . . preach . . . teach . . . baptize.” (See Luke, Mark and Matthew). Men and women listened to the command; women tarried and got the power as well as men (Acts 2:3-4); but men said: “No! Paul teaches that woman is merely a symbol of the Church; man a symbol of Christ. Therefore woman must not preach; must not teach; nor have power, or she will destroy the symbol.” Symbol of a strange church this! Woman with no message for the world; no converts to baptize; veiled like Judaism; stripped of power.
287. I have a friend, who belongs to a sect which teaches these things. A devout niece who belonged to the same sect confided in this lady that the Spirit often moved upon her with such power, in meetings, that she did not know how to refrain from speaking out; it was like a “fire in her bones.” Her aunt could but advice her, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Following her aunt’s advice, the next time the Spirit constrained her she did speak out. Sitting far at the back, her husband by her side, the “brethren” sitting with downcast eyes, thought that her husband had spoken so thrillingly. They allowed themselves to be moved mightily by the message; and had an unusually “melting time,” that morning. Then, after meeting, they learned that a woman had done this! In consequence, this “symbol of a church,” who happened to be quite like a church “twice dead and plucked up by the roots,” was driven out of the sect.
288. No church can long survive the silencing of its women. The church which silences women will be found to silence the Holy Spirit. A sect, or sex, or race which attempts a monopoly of the Spirit’s voice and power, will find that the Holy Spirit will flee far from it. Woman is destined to have a very large share in the preaching of God’s messages, and in bringing souls to Christ, for did not God promise, long ages ago, as regards woman, that her seed should bruise the Serpents head?
289. No teaching of the New Testament has ever been more cunningly perverted than this concerning the “headship” of the husband. Does Christ jealously keep the Church from rising into His power: or does He say, “Behold I give you power?” Does He say, “This is My throne, keep away!” to the Church; or does He say, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me on My throne?” Christ’s delight and His constant exhortation is for us to share His throne-life with him. If we fall short, it certainly is not because He has ever shut the door to our attainment of it. He is not jealous of His own exaltation; He only secured it (for He had it before He came to earth), in such a manner that He might bring it within our grasp also.
290. But are we not to obey Christ? Yes, most certainly; obey Him because He is God, because He is King of kings; and these a husband is not, and he should not usurp Christ’s prerogatives. Christ said: “Be not ye called Rabbi: for ONE is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.”. . . “Neither be ye called masters; for ONE is your Master, even Christ.” Woman’s spiritual Head is also her King; and so is man’s spiritual Head. But woman’s matrimonial head is not her king,–he is only a fellow-disciple and fellow-servant of the King; and the King has laid down His rules as to the conduct of fellow-disciples towards one another: “Ye know that the princes [rulers] of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister: and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant” (see Matthew 20:25; Luke 22:25).
291. When the Word says, “the husband is the head of the wife,” by the pen of St. Paul, it merely states a fact; those where the conditions under which women lived at that time. The husband was, in those days, the head of the wife simply because he held the superior place. In days when a man could divorce his wife “for every cause” (Matthew 19:3; and even Christ’s own disciples demurred when Christ declared this was not right), there could be no doubt that women were compelled to be ignorant, inferior and very cheap. The rabbis taught that it was lawful for a man to divorce his wife if she even burned his food. Hence the Apostle says: “Be a head, as Christ is a Head of the Church,–to help your wife upward to your own level,”–for it is only as man imitates Christ in his conduct that he can remain in the Body of which Christ is Head. Therefore the woman should “imitate” (1 Corinthians 11:1, R. V.) St. Paul, and the others in worship. And the man has certain duties to perform toward his wife which are analogous to what Christ purposes to do for His Church, for its elevation, until it shall “reign in life with Christ Jesus.” This is the headship of the husband that Paul speaks of. He would never encourage the husband to imitate Adam and Antichrist in trying to be “as God,” to woman, and to interfere with Christ’s authority over His own servant,–woman.
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