Monday, July 31, 2017
In 2010 God dramatically restored my hope that America could see another great, national Spiritual awakening that would alter the course of the nation. This was significant, for I had lost all hope for such a revival. My hope had been robbed after seeing so many superficial revivals and celebrity revivalists who seemed to be more concerned for their name than God’s name.
Revival was in my blood. I had been called into the ministry during a powerful NE Texas revival in the 1970s. As God led me into higher education, I directed my studies toward outpourings of the Holy Spirit in church history. Out of a seven-year research and writing project came the book 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity, first published in 1996, but still used in Bible colleges and seminaries around the world.
My wife, Dr. Susan Hyatt, and I experienced some powerful moves of the Holy Spirit in the 1970s-80s, which encouraged us to continue. We lived through the revivals out of Toronto and Pensacola in the 1990s but were disappointed in the lack of cultural transformation and the direction that revival in general seemed to take at the time.
Revival, it seemed, degenerated into a hyped, man-made, religious event rather than a Divine visitation from heaven. I could identify with the words of R. A. Torrey who, almost a century ago, had said:
The most fundamental trouble with most of our present-day, so-called revivals is that they are man-made and not God sent. They are worked up (I almost said faked up) by man’s cunningly devised machinery—not prayed down.
God Restores My Hope
By 2010 I had given up hope of America ever experiencing another Great Awakening that would renew the nation’s churches, impact the culture and stem the tide of secularism, immorality and false religion that is flooding our land.
But one hot summer day as I began a leisure drive to speak the following day at a church in another city, I was unexpectedly apprehended by the Holy Spirit, and everything changed.
I had barely pulled onto the highway when, without any thought or expectation of such a thing, I felt I was suddenly enveloped in God’s presence. For the next two hours, I was hardly aware of my surroundings as my mind was continually flooded with thoughts of hope and faith that America “could” see another Great Awakening.
By the time I reached my hotel I was so excited I could hardly wait to get settled in with my notebook and begin writing and articulating the new hope for America I had just received. That experience continued far into the night as I sat on the hotel bed and wrote from an overflowing heart. Out of that experience came my book, Pilgrims and Patriots.
Three Things that Lingered from that Experience
There were three things that left an indelible impression on my mind and heart. First of all, as already mentioned, my hope was restored for another great, national Spiritual awakening.
Secondly, for the first time I saw that there was a direct bearing of the First Great Awakening on the founding of America. I had studied the Great Awakening and written about it, but now I saw that it played a primary role in the birthing of this nation. Spiritual awakening, we might say, is in our national DNA.
Thirdly, it was clear that the Lord was saying that America “could” (not “would”) see another Great Awakening. It was a reminder that many of God’s promises are conditional. The great promise of a national healing in II Chronicles 7:14 begins with the phrase, If My people . . ..
There are things in life that will happen because of God’s sovereign will. There are other things, however, that He has placed in our hands and how things turn out depends on us.
Necessary Keys for Revival
As you can see, I am not a fatalist, determinist, or hyper-Calvinist. It is not set in stone whether or not America will have another Great Awakening. It depends on us. Here are three things I want to suggest are necessary for the American church if we are to see another Great Awakening across our land.
1. Stop seeking revival and seek God.
Revival is too often pursued for all the wrong reasons. The revivalist may be looking for personal success and importance, or a pastor may want to see numbers added to his congregation or larger offerings with which to build a more impressive church building.
Charles Finney told of receiving a “multitude” of letters and requests form pastors and church leaders asking him to come and promote a revival in their city. He then said, “But when I came to weigh their reasons, I have sometimes found every one of them to be selfish. And God would look upon every one with abhorrence.”
In 2006, I was commissioned by Charisma House to produce an edit of the old Azusa Street papers, which was published under the title, Fire on the Earth. As I read and reread the Apostolic Faith publications, as they were called, it dawned on me that they did not seek revival. They wanted God. They wanted to live as New Testament believers, in love, humility and the power of the Holy Spirit.
True revivals in history have been birthed out of a jealousy for God’s honor and a distress at the spiritual apathy and disregard for His truth. Jonathan Edwards, for example, was distressed for New England. Before reading his sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" to the congregation in Enloe, CN, Edwards had spent eighteen hours pouring out his soul to God and his prayer was, “O God, visit New England or let me die.”
Edwards was not a great preacher (he read his sermons) and there is no record of any great singing. There was, however, great praying. The windows of heaven were opened and entire towns began to repent and turn to God.
2. Repent of a Spirit of Pride and an Elitist Attitude
I was standing on the front row of a “revival” church waiting to be introduced to speak that morning. The worship was very festive with people jumping, shouting running and waving swords and banners. I was not into their style of worship, but as I stood and communed with the Lord I heard the Holy Spirit say, “The stronghold of deception is pride.” I knew immediately that that was to be the theme of my message.
When the service was turned to me I announced my theme and then proceeded to show how so many revivals and revivalists have been destroyed because of pride. I gave examples of how during times of revival the participants often get proud of “their” revival and take on an inflated idea of their importance because of God’s blessing. The pride then becomes an opening for demonic deception.
At the end of my message the festive atmosphere had changed to one of somberness and quietness. Even after the benediction it seemed that people were almost afraid to speak as they moved quietly from the pews and filed out the door of the church. When I later expressed concern about squelching their enthusiasm, the pastor assured me that I had “nailed it” and given them exactly what they had needed to hear.
The middle letter of pride is “I,” which in Greek is ego. The “self” or ego must be dealt with if there is to be a pure flow of genuine revival. Martin Luther said, “I am more afraid of my own heart than of the pope and all his cardinals. I have within me the great pope, ‘Self.’”
3. Pray the Promises
There have been great revivals without great preaching. There have been great revivals without great singing. But there has never been a great revival without great praying. And to be effective our prayers must be based on God’s word for as Romans 10:17 says, Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
There is a wealth of Biblical promises one can pray concerning revival. In the Old Testament, there is II Chronicles 7:14. If someone objects that this promise was given to Israel, I will point them to II Corinthians 1:20. Referring to the Old Testament promises, Paul said, For all the promises in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.
There are New Testament promises such Mark 11:22-24 and Acts 2:17. The great Hebrides revival of the 1950s was birthed out of the desperate prayers of two elderly women who took Isaiah 44:3-4 and prayed that promise for their village. The promise reads, For I will pour water on him who is thirsty and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring.
Great revivalists such as Wesley, Whitfield, Finney and Moody based their prayers on the promises of God’s word. R.A. Torrey, associate of D.L. Moody and a successful revivalist in his own right, wrote,
That is the kind of revival I am longing to see here in our city; yes, throughout the whole land; yes, throughout the whole world. Not a revival where there is great preaching and marvelous singing and all kinds of bewildering antics by preachers or singers, or skillful managers or manipulators; but a revival where there is mighty praying and wonderful displays of the convicting and converting and regenerating power of the Holy Spirit in answer to prayer.
I say “Amen.” Do it Lord! Come Holy Spirit!
To read how America was birthed out of a great, Spiritual awakening, check out Dr. Eddie Hyatt's book, Pilgrims and Patriots, available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com.
Monday, July 17, 2017
When Jesus sent out His disciples to preach the Good News, He did not did not tell them to make people into Baptists, Presbyterians, Catholics or Assemblies of God. He did not tell them to make church members. They were, instead, to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20).
It is easy to become a church member. It is not so easy to become a disciple. A “disciple” is a committed learner and follower. Absolute commitment is required of a disciple. In Luke 14:33 Jesus said, So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that He has cannot be My disciple.
No Disciples of Peter, Paul, Joseph or Benny
In first century Judaism, each rabbi had their own disciples who were committed to sit at their feet and learn. There were disciples of Hillel and disciples of Shammai. Paul had been a disciple of the famous rabbi, Gamaliel. Even John the Baptist had his own disciples.
In the New Testament church, however, we do not find disciples of Peter, John or Paul. We only find disciples of the Lord. The apostles all understood that their commission was not to call people to themselves. They were to call people to Jesus, and help them become His disciples.
In Acts 20:29-30 Paul warned the elders of the church of Ephesus how that after his departure false teachers would arise in their midst. A characteristic of these false teachers would be their attempts, to draw away the disciples after themselves. We are not to draw disciples after ourselves; we are to draw them to Jesus.
Interestingly, neither Jesus or Paul ever used the word “Christian.” In fact, it is found only twice in the entire New Testament. Acts 11:26 reveals that “Christian” was a word first used by outsiders in referring to the disciples of the Lord, because their lives were so centered on Christ. It reads, And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
Accepting the Christian Religion is Not Enough
Pandita Ramabai, the Mother of the Pentecostal Movement in India, was raised a devout Hindu. While studying in England she converted to Christianity and became a member of the Church of England.
But according to her own testimony, she later realized that she had not been converted to Christ, but had only changed her religion. She had accepted the Christian religion with its outward, traditional forms, but had not become a disciple of Christ.
It was after she became a true disciple of Jesus that God used her to ignite a great revival that included signs, wonders and speaking in tongues. This revival, that began in the orphanage she founded in the city of Kadegaon, began one year before the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles.
News of the revival spread. American missionaries told of visiting this revival and hearing young, illiterate Indian girls worshipping Jesus in fluent English. As news of the revival increased, it became a great impetus for people in many parts of the world to pray that God would send such a revival to their locality.
Discipleship in the Great Awakening
In my book, Pilgrims and Patriots, I document how America’s First Great Awakening was characterized by a call to discipleship, even if they did not use the term. The preachers of the Awakening called on the masses of colonial American to get rid of the “faulty foundations” on which they had built their faith and turn completely to Jesus.
The “faulty foundations” included church membership, social status, family pedigree, cultural refinement and good deeds. In place of these, they called on the people to take Jesus Christ as their only sure foundation and become His disciples.
This emphasis led to a Christ-centered unity among the various ethnic and denominational groups scattered throughout the colonies. In fact, a British-appointed governor, Jonathan Trumbull, wrote to England and said, “If you ask an American who is his master, he will tell you he has none, nor any governor but Jesus Christ” (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 119).
The Great Awakening thus prepared the American colonists for Independence by breaking down the ethnic and doctrinal barriers through its emphasis on the preeminence of Jesus Christ. The late Harvard professor, Perry Miller, said, “The Declaration of Independence of 1776 was a direct result of the preaching of the evangelists of the Great Awakening” (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 108).
The church today is a mission field populated with people who have become “Christians” but have never been truly converted to Christ. Yes, there are Christians who are also disciples. But there are many, like Pandita Ramabai, who have accepted the Christian religion but have never been truly converted to Christ.
The church must be awakened with the true Gospel message that is centered in Christ and His call to discipleship. Only then will genuine revival and Spiritual awakening once again visit this land.
Monday, May 29, 2017
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.
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
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
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).
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
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
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
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.
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/