by Matt Slick
The issue of male headship in the church is raised in the teachings of Paul the apostle. He said the following...
1 Timothy 2:12–13, "But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve."
Paul ties the issue of authority, and the subsequent male headship in the church, to the created order of God. Why is this so? There is in Scripture a concept called primogeniture. It is the teaching that the firstborn male has preeminence and more authority than his siblings in a family.
We see that the firstborn concept is taught in Scripture in different senses. It can be used to describe a family's oldest son (Genesis 22:21), the firstborn among animals (Exodus 23:16), and the nation of Israel (Exodus 4:22). In addition, the firstborn male had a double portion of inheritance compared to his brothers and sisters. The firstborn could not be disinherited (Deuteronomy 21:15-17). Also, the title of "firstborn" was transferable.
- Gen. 41:51-52, "And Joseph called the name of the first-born Manasseh: For, said he, God hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house. And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath made me fruitful in the land of my affliction."
- Jer. 31:9, "...for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is My firstborn."
In the verses immediately above, the firstborn title is transferred from the Manasseh to Ephraim. At first Manasseh was the firstborn over Ephraim. Then in Jeremiah, Ephraim is the firstborn over Manasseh. So, this means that the title itself carries significant weight and authority. Since Adam is the firstborn among people, he has preeminence and since he named the animals and Eve, it demonstrates his authority. Therefore, the authority structure in the church is that the males are to be preachers and teachers, not females.
We know that this is in the church context because in the chapter following Paul's instruction about authority in 1 Timothy 2:12-13, Paul tells us is giving instruction for the church.
1 Timothy 3:15, "but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth."
So, we see that Paul is giving instruction for church procedures and structure and the authority is to lie with a male, not the female. This is why Paul the apostle cited Adam in this issue, because it is the created order of God.