Monday, May 29, 2017

A THREE-WORD PRAYER THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR DESTINY

Facing a life-shattering crisis, my father raised his hand to heaven and prayed a three-word prayer. The prayer was hardly out of his mouth when something incredible happened. My seven year old brother, just given up to die by three doctors, was miraculously healed and our family’s destiny was forever changed.
Tragedy Strikes
It was a hot summer day in June and my father was plowing mile-long swaths of west Texas farmland. A cloud of dust followed him as the plows turned up the dry earth. The occasional tumbleweed would cross his path, whipped along by the west Texas wind. It seemed like so many other days--until tragedy struck.
He glanced toward the house in which we lived and noticed a tractor, that had been parked in the yard by a coworker, going aimlessly in circles. Knowing something was not right, he turned his tractor toward home.
He arrived to find my mother sitting on the porch sobbing over my seven-year old brother, Pete, whom she was holding on her lap. My Dad said that when he looked at Pete, he appeared flat as a pancake. He also noticed that Pete was breathing, but with every breath blood and water bubbled from his eyes, nose, mouth and ears.
Pete and my four year old brother, Belve, had been playing like they were farming. Pete helped Belve climb onto the tractor seat and he gave a yank on the crank on the front of the tractor. It started and ran over Pete, crushing him.
My Dad carefully lifted Pete from my mother’s arms, laid him in the back seat of the car and rushed to the nearest hospital in the small town of Memphis, TX. Three doctors looked at Pete and all agreed, “He has a broken rib that has punctured a lung, which explains the blood coming out of all of his passages.” They also agreed that Pete would probably not live more than another 10 minutes.
A Defining Moment
The doctors wheeled Pete away for x-rays and to do whatever they could for him, and my Dad was left alone in that small hospital waiting room. As he stood there with a heavy heart, there was one thing that filled his mind. For five years he had been disobedient to God’s call on his life.
For five years he had experienced a growing sense that God had called him to full-time ministry. However, with only a fourth-grade education and a young family to care for, it seemed beyond impossible and he told no one of his experience.
But now, facing this crisis, he stepped into a restroom, raised his right hand to heaven, and said, “Lord, I’m ready!” That was it. Just three words. Suddenly, all fear and anxiety left his heart and he had an internal knowing that Pete was going to be okay.
He stepped out of the restroom and had to wait for an hour before anyone came with any news of Pete. But all during this time, his heart was at rest. He knew that Pete was okay. The gift of faith had obviously been given to him for that situation.
A Higher Power & A Defining Moment
Finally, one of the doctors emerged and said, “Mr. Hyatt, there has been a higher power here tonight.” He went on to explain that they knew that Pete had a fractured rib that had punctured a lung. “But we have just completed the x-rays,” he said, “The bleeding has stopped and he doesn’t have a broken bone in his body.”
A nurse who attended Pete during his brief stay in the hospital, attended the same church as my parents. She stood in a church service and testified that she had never experienced the power God as she did when she was in Pete’s room that day.
I was three weeks old at the time and that was a defining moment in the life of my family. That prayer not only produced a miraculous healing but it changed my Dad’s destiny. Through another miracle, he left the farm and he went on to pastor Assemblies of God churches for over 35 years.
His prayer of consecration that day changed many other lives as well. I am certain that I would not have written books, lectured at Oxford University and preached the gospel all over the world if it had not been for that three-word prayer. It was truly a game-changer, or we might say, “a destiny-changer.”
You Can Change Your Destiny
During a recent time of prayer, it occurred to me that if Christians across America prayed this same prayer in sincerity and truth, it would change the course of their lives, their churches and their nation.
The key to the power of my Dad’s prayer was that it was a prayer of total consecration. It was a prayer of unconditional surrender. He waved the white flag and gave everything over to God.
We may barter and make deals in our human relationships, but when it comes to God, He demands total consecration. As Jesus said in Luke 14:26-27, If anyone comes to Me and does not hate [by comparison] his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.
Yes, God demands absolute surrender on our part. And why shouldn’t He? He is the wisest and most benevolent Being in the universe and only He knows what is best for us, His creation. To allow us any other option, would not be love.
Are you ready to give it all to God? Raise your right hand and from the depths of your being, say to Him, “LORD, I’M READY!”

Dr. Eddie L. Hyatt is an author, Bible teacher and ordained minister. His books on revival, women and church are available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com. He and his wife, Dr. Susan Hyatt, are establishing the Int'l Christian Women's Hall of Fame and Ministry Center in Grapevine, TX.  For more info. on the Hall of Fame, go to https://www.gwtwchristianwomenshalloffame.com/

Sunday, May 21, 2017

DID PAUL HAVE A WOMAN AS HIS PASTOR?

This article is derived from Dr. Eddie Hyatt’s latest book, Paul, Women and Church, available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com. To read about the Int’l Christian Women’s Hall of Fame he and his wife, Dr. Susan Hyatt, are establishing in Grapevine, TX, click this link.  https://www.gwtwchristianwomenshalloffame.com/

Phoebe was a woman leader for whom Paul had great respect as is borne out in the language he used to describe her. The power of his words is lost in our English translations, but is very obvious in the Greek (Romans 16:1-2). In fact, an argument could be made from Paul’s own words that Phoebe had once functioned in a pastoral type role toward him.
Phoebe Was a Minister
In Romans 16:1, Paul refers to Phoebe as, A servant of the church in Cenchrea. The English word “servant” in this passage is misleading. It is from the Greek word diakonos and should be translated as “minister.”
Indeed, diakonos is translated as “minister” in twenty-three places where it is used of men, including Paul, Barnabas, and Apollos (I Corinthians 3:4). In this one place where it is used of a woman, these same translators chose to use the word “servant,” a clear example of their bias (Hyatt, Paul, Women and Church, 26).
Diakonos does literally means “servant” but became a word for Christian leaders as a result of Jesus using it in response to the request by James and John for special seats of power in His kingdom. Jesus replied that whoever wanted to be great must become a diakonos, that is, a “servant.”
From that declaration of Jesus, diakonos became a common designation for Christian ministers, highlighting the servant character of Christian leadership. The well-known evangelical theologian, E. Earle Ellis, wrote,
Diakonos is used frequently in the Pauline letters for those who exercise ministries of teaching and preaching. The title is given to Paul and to a number of his associates who are active on a continuing basis as traveling missionaries or as coworkers in local congregations. In terms of modern function, it best corresponds to the modern designation “minister” (Hyatt, Paul, Women and Church, 27).
Designating Phoebe as a diakonos shows that she was a “minister” from the church in Cenchrea who had been sent by that church to Rome on a special assignment. Paul recognizes her as such by using the same word for her that he uses for himself, for Barnabas, and for Apollos.
Phoebe Was a Woman “Set Over” Others
Paul also said that Phoebe had been a prostatis to many, and of myself also. The KJV and NKJV translate the word as “helper,” but Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon says that prostatis refers to “a woman set over others” and that it describes Phoebe as a “guardian, protector, and benefactor.” Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words says that prostatis is a word of “dignity” and indicates the high esteem with which she was regarded.
These definitions are correct for prostatis is made up of the prefix pro, meaning “before,” and “istemi,” meaning “to stand.” It, therefore, literally means “to stand before” and identifies Phoebe as a leader with the qualities one would expect in a modern-day pastor (Hyatt, Paul, Women and Church, 28).
Phoebe Had “Stood Before” Paul
Some will argue that Phoebe was merely a patroness to Paul who supplied financial support for his ministry. However, the overall sense of the passage, including Paul’s designation of her as a “minister,” militates against such an interpretation. She was one who had “stood before” others, including Paul himself.
An argument could be made from this passage that Phoebe had, at some time, functioned in a pastoral type role toward Paul. She is obviously held in very high esteem by him for he exhorts the Roman believers, both men and women, to receive her and respect her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and to assist her in whatever business she has need of you (Romans 16:2).
Women Pastors in the New Testament
The tradition against a woman functioning as a pastor is so strong in some circles, that it will not even be considered. Part of the reason is a misunderstanding of the nature of New Testament Christianity. Whereas the modern church tends to be institutional, official and programmatic, the New Testament church was dynamic, fluid and Spirit-led.
This is reflected in the fact that the English noun “pastor” is found only once in the entire New Testament. The Greek word from which it is translated, poimen, literally means “shepherd” and is found 18 times in the New Testament. It is used only once of Christian leaders, in Ephesians 4:11, where it is listed as one of the Ascension Gifts given to His church by the victorious, ascended Christ.
In introducing these Ascension Gifts, Paul makes it clear that they are given to women as well as to men. He does this by using gender-inclusive language when introducing these gifts in Ephesians 4:8 where he says, When He ascended on high He led captivity captive and gave gifts to men (NKJV).
“Men” is a poor translation of the Greek word anthropoi, which is gender-inclusive and literally means “people.” The translators of the 2011 NIV got it right by translating the passage, When He ascended on high, He took many captives and gave gifts to His people.
If Paul had wanted to confine these leadership gifts to men only he could have signaled that desire by using gender-specific language. Instead, he makes it clear that these gifts are given to both men and women but using the Greek word anthropoi, meaning “people.”
What About Women Being Silent?
“But,” some will protest, “What about Paul’s calls for female silence and submission in I Corinthians 14:34 and I Timothy 11:12?”
A careful examination of those passages reveal that Paul is responding to local situations in Corinth and Ephesus, and his statements were never meant to be applied across the board to all women and all churches everywhere.
To make those two passages the controlling passages concerning women, leads to the denial of the fact that Paul recognizes numerous women preachers and teachers who are his coworkers and fellow ministers in the gospel. These include Phoebe, Priscilla, Junia, Tryphena, Tryphosa and those women in Philippi whom he says, labored with me in the gospel (Philippians 4:3).
Conclusion
Yes, Phoebe was a respected Christian leader in the early church with qualities we would expect in a modern-day pastor. The evidence indicates that she may well have functioned in a pastoral-type ministry toward Paul at some point in his life.


This article is derived from Dr. Eddie Hyatt’s latest book, Paul, Women and Church, available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com. To read about the Int’l Christian Women’s Hall of Fame he and his wife, Dr. Susan Hyatt, are establishing in Grapevine, TX, click this link. https://www.gwtwchristianwomenshalloffame.com/

Thursday, April 20, 2017

DID PAUL SEND GREETINGS TO A FEMALE APOSTLE IN ROME?

In his letter to the church at Rome, Paul sends personal greetings to twenty-four people in the final chapter of the letter. These individuals are friends and coworkers who are dear to his heart. Of the twenty-four mentioned by name, ten are women. Many of these women obviously functioned in roles of leadership in the churches.
One woman named “Junia” is specifically referred to as an apostle. In Rom. 16:7 Paul says, Greet Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles who also were in Christ before me.
“Junia” is a feminine name and was universally recognized as a female apostle for the first several centuries of the Church’s existence. The famous church father of the fifth century, John Chrysostom, exclaimed, "Oh how great is the devotion of this woman, that she should be even counted worthy of the appellation of apostle" (Hyatt, Paul, Women andChurch, 25).
Concerned by the presence of a female apostle, some have attempted to argue that the name should be translated “Junias,” which is male. There are insurmountable facts, however, that militate against this argument.
First of all, without exception, all ancient Greek manuscripts have the feminine form of “Junia,” not “Junias.” Secondly, the female name “Junia” was quite common in the first century whereas the male name, “Junias,” is unknown. “Junias,” therefore, is a hypothetical name. Thirdly, as mentioned above, “Junia” was universally recognized as a female apostle for the first several centuries of the Church’s existence.
The manuscript and historical evidence are so overwhelming that all of the early English Bibles have the feminine form of “Junia.” These include the Tyndale New Testament, the Coverdale Bible, the Geneva Bible and the King James Version.
Why then have some modern translations, such as the 1984 NIV, the NAS, the ESV and the Message Bible, rendered the name “Junias” instead of “Junia?” Dr. N. Clayton Croy, Professor of New Testament at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio, says, “It is hard to see any reason other than the translators’ bias against the possibility that a woman could be an apostle” (Hyatt, Paul, Women and Church, 25).
Well-known New Testament scholar, James G. D. Dunn, agrees that "Junias" is a product of translator bias. He says, “The assumption that the name must be male is a striking indictment of male presumption regarding the character and structure of earliest Christianity” (Hyatt, Paul, Women and Church, 25-26).
The evidence is conclusive that Junia was a female apostle and recognized as such by Paul himself. The evidence is so conclusive, in fact, that the 2011 edition of the NIV has replaced the word “Junias” with “Junia.”
Paul’s recognition of Junia as an apostle clearly demonstrates that he was no misogynist and that women exercised leadership roles in the New Testament churches. But she is not alone, for a careful perusal of Scripture reveals other women who functioned in leadership roles in the New Testament.


This article is derived from Dr. Eddie Hyatt's latest book, Paul, Women and Church, available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com. To read about the Int'l Christian Women's Hall of Fame that Eddie Hyatt and his wife, Dr. Susan Hyatt, are establishing in Grapevine, TX, go to https://www.gwtwchristianwomenshalloffame.com/


Saturday, April 15, 2017

WHY JESUS APPEARED FIRST TO MARY MAGDALENE

During the forty days between His resurrection and ascension, Jesus appeared to His disciples at various times and on one occasion appeared to over five hundred of His followers.
The gospel writers, however, are very explicit in noting that it was Mary Magdalene to whom He appeared FIRST after His resurrection. The importance which the evangelists attach to this fact indicate that it was no accidental occurrence, but that Jesus purposely appeared first to Mary Magdalene.
A Purposeful, Intentional Act
Jesus knew that actions speak louder than words and He taught His disciples, not just by precept, but first of all by example. When He wanted to teach them about humility He did not, first of all, give them a lecture. He demonstrated the virtue of humility by taking the role of a slave, girding Himself with a towel and washing His disciples' feet.
When He desired to teach them about faith, He first demonstrated the power of faith by cursing a fig tree and allowing the disciples to see it wither and die. Only then did He give them a lecture about the power of faith.
Therefore, in appearing first to Mary Magdalene, Jesus was making a very important statement to His followers. It was a statement, perhaps, that they could not have grasped and retained by a mere lecture. This statement was further clarified and enhanced by the words which Jesus spoke to her on this occasion.
Mary Receives the First Apostolic Commission from the Risen Lord
When Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene He gave her certain, specific instructions. Matthew 28:10 records His words to Mary: "Go and tell my brethren...."
In other words, He sent her on a specific mission defined by the words, "Go and tell." Interestingly, the New Testament word apostle literally means "one who is sent" or "a sent one." Mary, therefore, was a "sent one" and as such received the first apostolic commission from the Risen Lord.
Her commission was to go and tell the other disciples that Jesus was risen. What is preaching but telling about Jesus and His resurrection? A perusal of the book of Acts will, in fact, reveal that the essence of the preaching message of the early church was Jesus and the resurrection.
Mary, therefore, received the first apostolic commission to preach the good news of the resurrection. And notice that her commission was not limited to a "women's ministry," for Jesus instructed her to "Go and tell My brethren." She, in effect, became the apostle to the apostles.
The Resurrection of Jesus Ushered in a New Day
By appearing first to Mary Magdalene and giving her an apostolic commission, Jesus was saying that His death and resurrection had ushered in a new era of freedom for all of humanity. He was saying that sexism and racism would not be tolerated in His kingdom. Paul echoes this in his letter to the Galatians saying that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek ... there is neither male nor female (3:28).
This was revolutionary thinking since the orthodox Jewish man of this time normally began his day with a prayer that included thanks to God that he was not born a Gentile, a slave, or a woman. It was revolutionary thinking because in both Roman and Jewish courts of law, the testimony of women was not allowed as evidence.
By appearing first to Mary Magdalene Jesus was, therefore, cutting through all the disdain and prejudice of his male disciples toward his female disciples. He thereby declared His equal acceptance of women and confirmed their ministry by bestowing on Mary the first apostolic commission after His resurrection.
True Revival Elevates Women
In her groundbreaking book, In the Spirit We’re Equal, Dr. Susan Hyatt documents how during times of Spiritual awakening women emerge to the forefront with men in ministry and leadership.
This was true in the Methodist revival where John Wesley had to deal with the fact that women were being anointed to preach as well as men. He finally yielded to the reality of what the Spirit was doing and began giving his approval to women preachers.
He realized that the authority to minister is rooted in one's possession of a divine call or gift and ordination is simply the Church's recognition of that gift. When asked why he gave recognition to women preachers, Wesley replied, "Because God owns them in the conversion of sinners, and who am I that I should withstand God."
We Must Not Quench the Spirit
Based on a faulty interpretation of two passages by Paul about women, much of the church has ignored Jesus’ powerful resurrection statement and refused to recognize the gifts of its female members. In doing so they have also violated Paul's command in I Thessalonians 5:19 not to quench the Spirit.
As a result of this disobedience, many gifts have lain dormant while millions have perished without Christ and the Church has languished in defeat. The Great Commission has not been fulfilled and the Lord's coming has been delayed. It is thus time for the Church to allow the gifting of the Spirit rather than religious tradition to determine who should “go and tell.”
If the Church will be open to God's gifts in both women and men this decade might yet see the greatest Spiritual awakening yet known. Psalm 68:11 might yet be fulfilled which, in the Hebrew, literally says, The Lord gave the word and a great company of women proclaimed it.
Jesus appeared FIRST to Mary Magdalene to affirm every woman who has ever heard His call to "Go and Tell."

Dr. Eddie Hyatt is the author of Paul, Women andChurch, available from Amazon and from his website at www.eddiehyatt.com. He and his wife, Dr. Susan Hyatt, are establishing the Int'l Christian Women's Hall of Fame in Grapevine, Texas. To read about this project go to https://www.gwtwchristianwomenshalloffame.com/

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A STRANGE GREEK WORD DISRUPTS THE DOCTRINE OF FEMALE SILENCE AND SUBJUGATION

1 Timothy 2:11-12 is considered by many to be the Bible’s clearest statement against women functioning in authoritative roles of leadership in the Church. It reads, Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.
For many, this passage has become a canon within the canon and is used as the standard by which every other Biblical passage about women is measured. Passages that show women functioning in positive roles of leadership are not given equal status by those who wish to confine women to supportive, subordinate roles in the church.
This, of course, is poor hermeneutics, for the passages that show women functioning in teaching and leadership roles must be given equal consideration with this passage. The leaders at the Azusa Street Revival (1906-09) understood this and admonished their constituents,
The only safeguard from deceptive spirits is by rightly dividing the Word of God, to keep out of fanaticism. We must rightly divide the Scriptures and compare scripture with scripture so that there is no confusion, and no deceptive spirit or wrong teaching may creep in (The Apostolic Faith, January 1908).
Legitimate Questions are Raised by Paul’s Use of a Strange Word
The real kicker, however, for those who use this passage to restrict the role of women, is the fact that Paul uses a strange Greek word that neither he nor any other New Testament writer ever uses. It is the word authentein, which is translated as “authority” in this passage.
The normal Greek word for authority is exousia and it is used by Paul and other New Testament writers over one hundred times. Why doesn’t Paul use it here? Why in this one place does he use this strange Greek word?
The obvious answer is that Paul uses this strange Greek word because he is not addressing the normal exercise of authority in the church. If he wanted to address the normal exercise of authority, we would expect him to use the normal word for authority--exousia. His use of this strange word indicates that he is addressing a unique and strange situation that exists with Timothy in Ephesus.
The Meaning of this Strange Word
Authentien is a very negative word and was used, no doubt, by Paul to address the negative situation Timothy is confronting in the church in Ephesus. Because it is found only here in the New Testament, it has been necessary to examine ancient Greek literature to determine its meaning.
From around 600 B.C. up to the time of Paul, authentein carried the meaning of “gaining the upper hand” with connotations of control, dominance and even violence. In one case, it was used of a murder. The murderer was said to have committed authentein against the victim (Hyatt, Paul, Women and Church, 96).
From around the time of Paul and onward, authentein begins to take on a new shade of meaning. Although the original meaning persists, it is now also used to refer to someone who claims to be the author or originator of someone or some thing. In fact, our words “author” and “authentic” are derived from authentein (Hyatt, Paul, Womenand Church, 96).
Paul obviously uses this strange word to address a strange and unique situation that was occurring within the church in Ephesus at the time. The problem in Ephesus was, in fact, the reason for him writing the entire letter of I Timothy.
The Reason Paul Wrote I Timothy
The traditional view that Paul wrote 1 Timothy to provide a church manual to guide the church organizationally is simply not true. I Timothy 1:3 clearly show that Paul wrote this letter to address false teaching in the church in Ephesus. He wrote, As I urged you when I went into Macedonia--remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine.
The phrase “no other doctrine” in this verse is a translation of the one Greek word, heterodidaskelein. This word literally means “different doctrine.” It comes from two Greek words; heteros meaning “other” or “different,” and didaskelein meaning “teaching” or “doctrine.” The NIV translates this word as “false doctrine,” the NASB as “strange doctrines,” and the NRSV as “different doctrine.”
This verse clearly shows that Timothy’s purpose for being in Ephesus is to confront false teaching. It is also clear that Paul’s purpose in writing this letter to Timothy is to encourage and instruct him in his unpleasant task. This understanding provides the setting for accurately interpreting what Paul is saying in this letter.
Dr. Gordon Fee, Professor Emeritus of New Testament at Regent College, tells how his understanding of I Timothy 2:11-12 was transformed when he accepted the fact that I Timothy is not a manual of church order.
After teaching I Timothy within the context of it being a personal letter addressing the false teaching Timothy was confronting in Ephesus, Fee wrote, “The results astonished us. And after a few more times through the PE (Pastoral Epistles) with other classes, I became fully convinced of the correctness of this point of view” (Hyatt, Paul, Women and Church, 90).
Paul’s True Concern
This means that Paul’s concern in I Timothy is not women teaching, but the teaching of false doctrine by both women and men. He not only silences “a woman” in 2:11-12, but he also silences two men in 1:19-20 who had made shipwreck of “the faith.”
Without commenting here on the nature of the heresy Paul is confronting (I do this in Paul, Women and Church), suffice it to say that the historical setting of the letter and Paul’s use of this strange Greek word make it clear that he is not presenting a church order for all churches everywhere. He is, instead, addressing a unique situation in Ephesus and he never intended for his words to be applied to all women everywhere.
This understanding of I Timothy 2:11-12 harmonizes it with other passages where Paul recognizes women functioning in leadership roles. These include the coworkers and fellow ministers whom he recognizes in Philippians 4:3, a female apostle in Romans 16:7, and close friends mentioned in Romans 16:1-5 who functioned in leadership/pastoral type ministries.
Conclusion
I Timothy 2:11-12 can no longer be used to confine women to subordinate roles merely because they are women. Women can now be free, without reservation, to function in whatever role or ministry God may call them. As Jesus said to the woman who had been bent over for eighteen long years, Woman you are loosed from your infirmity (Luke 13:12).
This is of vital importance for seeing the body of Christ mobilized and for the fulfilling of the Great Commission. This is not a “woman” issue. This is a church issue and an issue for world evangelism. It is also an issue of proper Biblical interpretation.
Yes, a strange Greek word sets women free and speaks volumes to the church today.


This article is derived from Eddie Hyatt’s latest book, Paul, Women and Church, available from Amazon and from his website at www.eddiehyatt.com. To read about the Int’l Christian Women’s Hall of Fame that he and his wife, Dr. Susan Hyatt, and friends, are establishing, go to https://www.gwtwchristianwomenshalloffame.com/

Friday, April 7, 2017

WOMEN WHO MENTORED PAUL

No one has been more misunderstood than Paul in regard to his view and attitude toward women. Secularists accuse him of being a misogynist and male chauvinist. Many Christians, while respecting Paul, insist that he confined women to subordinate roles toward men in all areas of life. Both are wrong.
Paul was, in fact, a friend of women and a champion of their equality in Christ. In my latest book, Paul, Women and Church, I show the many positive relationships he had with women as friends, coworkers, fellow ministers and even a spiritual mother.
For example, in his letter to the church in Philippi, a church that Paul had founded with a group of praying women, he mentions two women by name and then says, Help these women who labored with me in the gospel . . . (Philippians 4:3).
Professor Gerald F. Hawthorne says that the Greek phrase translated labored with is a metaphor which means "to fight together side by side with." This clearly indicates that Paul sees these women, not as peons under him, but as highly esteemed members of his team who have labored at his side in the cause of Christ (Hyatt, Paul,Women and Church, 38).
There are several such women coworkers mentioned respectfully by Paul, but I will confine this essay to two women who seemed to function, at one time or another, in a nurturing, mentoring role toward Paul. One is a coworker named Phoebe and the other is an unnamed spiritual mother.
Phoebe: A Woman Highly Respected by Paul
Phoebe was a woman for whom Paul had great respect as is borne out in the language he used to describe her. The power of his words is lost in our English translations, but is obvious in the Greek (Romans 16:1-2).
In Romans 16:1, Paul refers to Phoebe as a servant of the church in Cenchrea. The word “servant” in this passage is misleading. It is from the Greek word diakonos and should be translated as “minister.” Indeed, diakonos is translated as “minister” in twenty-three places where it is used of men, including Paul, Barnabas, and Apollos (Hyatt, Paul, Womenand Church, 26).
Diakonos does literally means “servant” but became a word for Christian leaders as a result of Jesus using it in response to the request by James and John for special seats of power in His kingdom.
Jesus replied that whoever wanted to be great must become a diakonos, or “servant.” From that declaration of Jesus, diakonos became a common designation for Christian ministers, highlighting the servant character of Christian leadership. The well-known evangelical theologian, E. Earle Ellis, wrote,
Diakonos is used frequently in the Pauline letters for those who exercise ministries of teaching and preaching. The title is given to Paul and to a number of his associates who are active on a continuing basis as traveling missionaries or as coworkers in local congregations. In terms of modern function, it best corresponds to the modern designation “minister” (Hyatt, Paul, Women and Church, 27).
Designating Phoebe as a diakonos shows that she was a “minister” from the church in Cenchrea who had been sent by that church to Rome on a special assignment. Paul recognizes her as such by using the same word for her that he uses for himself, for Barnabas, and for Apollos.
Paul also said that Phoebe had been a prostatis to many, and of myself also. The KJV and NKJV translate the word as “helper,” but Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon says that prostatis refers to “a woman set over others” and that it describes Phoebe as a “guardian, protector, and benefactor.” Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words says that prostatis is a word of “dignity” and indicates the high esteem with which she was regarded. 
These definitions are correct for prostatis is made up of the prefix pro, meaning “before,” and “istemi,” meaning “to stand.” It, therefore, literally means “to stand before” and identifies Phoebe as a leader with the qualities one would expect in a modern-day pastor.
Some will argue that Phoebe was merely a patroness to Paul who supplied financial support for his ministry. However, the overall sense of the passage, including Paul’s designation of her as a “minister,” militates against such an interpretation. She was one who had “stood before” others, including Paul himself.
An argument could be made from this passage that Phoebe had, at some time, functioned in a pastoral type role toward Paul. She had “stood before” him. She is obviously held in very high esteem by him for he exhorts the Roman believers, both men and women, to receive her and respect her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and to assist her in whatever business she has need of you (Romans 16:2).
Paul’s “Spiritual Mother”
In Romans 16:13 Paul sends greetings to Rufus, and his mother and mine. This is obviously not Paul’s biological mother, but is a woman who has been a spiritual mother to him. We know little about this woman, but at some point, in Paul’s spiritual journey, she had offered encouragement and counsel to Paul and been like a mother to him.
The identity of this woman can perhaps be identified by comparing Paul’s words in this passage to Mark’s gospel, which also mentions an individual named Rufus. Since Paul’s letter and Mark’s gospel were both written to the same Christian community in Rome, and within a few years of each other, it is likely that the Rufus mentioned by Paul and the Rufus mentioned by Mark are the same person.
In his Gospel, which was originally written to the church in Rome, Mark tells of Simon of Cyrene being compelled to carry the cross of Jesus (Mark 15:21). He mentions that Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus and the way he presents these two names indicates that Alexander and Rufus were well known to the Christians in Rome.
Mark obviously expects his audience to make the connection when they read that Simon of Cyrene is the father of these two individuals who are part of their community. The Rufus of Paul, therefore, is most likely the Rufus of Mark, the son of Simon of Cyrene who carried the cross of Jesus.
Paul never mentions a spiritual father in his writings, but he does make a point to send greetings to his spiritual mother. His spiritual mother was likely an African woman from Cyrene (Cyrene is located on the north coast of Africa), the mother of Rufus and the wife of Simon of Cyrene who carried the cross of Jesus.
Concluding Thought
No, Paul was not a misogynist, nor did he confine women to subordinate roles. He treated women with dignity and respect. This is obvious in Luke’s account of the beginning of Gospel in Philippi.
Luke tells how they found a place where certain women met for prayer each Sabbath. Luke says, And we sat down and spoke to the women who met there (Acts 16:13b). Note how personable is Paul. He does not preach to the women, nor does he hand out his card or brochure and move on.
Paul sits down, looks them in the eye, and has a one-on one conversation with them. This was the beginning of Christianity in Europe. No wonder the famed British scholar, F.F. Bruce, wrote, “The mainstream churches of Christendom, as they inch along towards a worthier recognition of the ministry of women, have some ways to go yet before they come abreast of Paul” (Hyatt, Paul, Women and Church, 21, 31).


This article was derived from Eddie Hyatt’s latest book, Paul, Women and Church, available from Amazon and from his website at www.eddiehyatt.com. To read about the exciting new Int’l Christian Women’s Hall of Fame that is being established in Grapevine, TX, go to https://www.gwtwchristianwomenshalloffame.com/.



Wednesday, March 1, 2017

THE RESPONSIBILITY OF GRACE

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles—if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God given to me for you, how that by revelation he made known to me the mystery . . . (Ephesians 3:1-3).

Paul saw himself as a responsible steward of the grace of God that had been poured into his life. He never divorced grace from responsibility as is being done in so many circles today.
There was no question in Paul’s mind that it was the grace of God that apprehended him that day on the Damascus Road. This angry religious zealot, bent on destroying those early followers of Jesus, was arrested in love, transformed into a committed follower of Christ and called to be the Apostle to the Gentiles.
With that work of grace, however, came an incredible sense of responsibility that Paul carried for the rest of his life. This is clearly expressed in his letter to the Ephesians where he speaks of this responsibility and links it with God’s marvelous work of grace in his life.
He expresses this responsibility in Ephesians 3:2 by using a Greek word that has been translated “dispensation” in the NKJV and “administration” in the NIV. The Greek word is oikonomia and it referred to the management or administration of a household. It was used in regards to a steward or manager who was responsible for looking after someone else’s property.
By using oikonomia, Paul obviously sees himself as a steward of the grace that has been given to him. He literally says, The stewardship (oikonomia) of the grace of God that was given to me for you (Ephesians 3:2). Notice that this grace was given to Paul for him to convey to others, and this is where the responsible stewardship comes in to play. Paul then delineates the nature of this stewardship in his use of the word “mystery.”
The word “mystery,” from the Greek word musterion, was not a riddle or puzzle to be solved. It was, instead, something that had been hidden but was now being brought out into the open. For Paul, this “mystery” now being revealed was that, through the Gospel, Gentiles are fellow heirs with the Jews, of the same body and sharers in God’s promises (Ephesians 3:6).
Paul sees this “mystery” as something that has been entrusted to him by God. He sees himself as a steward of this “mystery,” responsible before God to make it known to the Gentile world. In Ephesians chapter 3, he consistently links the grace of God in his life with his sense of responsibility to steward that work of grace.
In verse 7, for example, he says, I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of his power. Paul’s ministry, that took him through imprisonments, beatings, shipwreck and all sorts of trials, was a result of his sense of responsibility to steward the gift that had been given him by God’s grace, and take the Gospel to the Gentile world.
In verse 8 he says, To me, who am less the least of all saints, was this grace given that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. Notice that God’s grace was given to lead Paul into a life of righteous action—that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. Paul saw himself as a steward, responsible to manage that which God had graciously entrusted to him.
What about you? Are you a good steward of God’s grace in your life? Maybe he has blessed you with certain gifts, talents or abilities? Maybe, like Paul, he has called you to a particular ministry? Maybe he has blessed you with financial wealth?
Whatever grace has been poured into our lives, we are responsible for that which He has entrusted to us. And one day we will all give an account for our stewardship. As Paul said in II Corinthians 5:10,
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done whether good or bad.

This article was derived from a course Dr. Eddie Hyatt is teaching on Paul's Letter to the Ephesians. You can join this teaching, live and online, each Tuesday evening by going to his website, www.eddiehyatt.com, and clicking on the "Live Streaming" button.