Biblical Womanhood Bible Study, Reformation Day

Imperishable Beauty: RefHERmation Day Bonus Lesson

Reformation Day is Thursday, October 31,
and we’re celebrating all week with Reformation-focused articles!

Our “Sweet Hour of Prayer” study will return next week. You can find the entire “Imperishable Beauty” study at the Bible Studies tab at the top of this page.

Originally published October 31, 2018

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Happy Reformation Day!

For those of us working through this study in real time*, today is Reformation Day. I recently commended (again) to my readers Rebecca VanDoodewaard’s excellent book, Reformation Women, and I thought, “What better way to celebrate Reformation Day and biblical womanhood than to combine the two?”. So, today, we’re going to take a look at some women in Reformation history and in biblical history who exemplified biblical womanhood by influencing others toward godliness.

(*If you’re behind in your lessons, it’s OK to use this week as a catch up week and save today’s lesson for another day.

*If you’re working through this study or teaching it to a class at a later date you may want to skip this lesson, use it as supplementary or bonus material, or leave it for the end of the study.)


Choose any of the women below and read their stories (click on their names). Then consider the following questions:

1. In what ways did this woman exemplify biblical womanhood in her culture, context, circumstances, family situation, or church?

2. Which godly character traits or Fruit of the Spirit were especially obvious in her life, words, and actions?

3. Which Scripture passages come to mind as you read this woman’s story? In what ways did she live these Scriptures out (or fail to live them out)?

4. Are there any instances of sin in this woman’s story? If so, how can you learn from what she did wrong and avoid this sin in your own life?

5. How does this woman set a godly example that you can apply to your own life?

6. In what ways did this woman point someone to Jesus, serve the Kingdom, or help God’s people?

Women of the Bible

Esther

Ruth

Abigail

Deborah and Jael

Miriam

Mary

Priscilla

Lydia

Dorcas

 

Women of the Reformation

Catherine d’Bourbon

Jeanne D’Albret

Marguerite de Navarre

Margarethe Blaurer

Katharina Schutz Zell

Anna Adlischweiler

Anna Reinhard

Katharina von Bora Luther


Homework

Think of some ways you can bloom where God has planted you to serve your family, your church, and the Kingdom as a woman of the modern day Reformation.

Complementarianism

Putting on the “You Can!” of Complementarianism

It never really hit me until I started teaching the book of 1 Timothy how many instructions in the pastoral epistles pertain to women, and how weighty those instructions are. The pastoral epistles are the “policy and procedure manuals” for the church, and, far from relegating the ministry of women to nothing more than crafts and tea parties while the men do all the “important” stuff, you come away with the impression that a healthy, well-balanced church actually depends on godly women working hard to carry out the ministries that God has uniquely created and gifted us to fulfill, alongside men fulfilling their own ministries.

These epistles don’t view “woman’s work” around the house of God as trivial or menial, but as a high and holy calling. Vital. Necessary. Honorable.

But is that the lofty perspective of the biblical role of women that the local complementarian church is conveying to its female and male members? Are we, especially those of us in women’s ministry, proactively teaching that the calling of motherhood or the task of discipling other women or serving those in need is qualitatively just as imperative and noble as the calling of pastor or elder?

Intentionally or not, the egalitarian movement has maneuvered biblical complementarians into constantly playing defense. Their offensive squad keeps moving the ball forward by offering women a no holds barred buffet of powerful and prestigious ministry positions. Our defensive line correctly and biblically pushes back with, “No, the Bible says women are not to ‘teach or to exercise authority over a man’  in the church setting.” But often, only two or three members of our offensive squad are dressed out to play, and they never get off the bench and into the game. And as any football fan knows, you have to have a good defense and a good offense if you’re playing to win.

Egalitarians offer women “you can,” but all too often all we complementarians have offered godly women yearning to serve is, “you can’t.” Where is the big, beautiful, biblical showcase of complementarian “you can”?

Not long ago, I was teaching a group of ladies the biblical process of putting off the old self and putting on the new self in Ephesians 4:20-32. We explored how interesting it was that every “don’t” in the passage was coupled with a “do.” We don’t just put off lying, we put on proactive truth-telling instead, and so on. Nature abhors a vacuum in the physical realm, and it would seem this is true in the spiritual realm as well. When we subtract the ungodly, we must replace it with the godly. If we don’t, something will rush in to fill the void that’s been created, and that “something” isn’t usually biblical or fruitful. 

So how can we shift the perspective in our churches from “you can’t” to “you can,” and create an atmosphere, not merely of “put off,” but also “put on”? How can we get our offensive team suited up, on the field, and moving the ball toward the goalpost while at the same time retaining a strong defense?

We can, so to speak, make complementarianism great again. 

As I studied 1 Timothy 5, I was struck by Paul’s description of women who are “truly widows.” These are women who have spent their lives being busy and intentional about the work of the Lord in their homes and in the church. They adorned themselves with the good works proper for women who profess godliness, and they were honored and revered for it by the church. I didn’t come away from this passage with the feeling that these women were frustrated, oppressed, or seen as “lesser” by the church because they weren’t allowed to teach or exercise authority over men. I came away from this passage thinking, “Those women were awesome. That’s the kind of woman I want to be.

What would the climate in our churches look like if women’s ministries and the church at large recaptured that same reverential posture and purposefulness toward biblical womanhood? If, instead of teaching the biblical role of women strictly as, “You can’t eat the fruit from this apple tree,” we followed that admonition with a grand tour of the Garden, focusing on the delicious fruit of the pear tree, the cherry tree that needs a good pruning, the fig tree just waiting for the right woman to come along, harvest its fruit, and make some preserves, the banana tree that needs an expert in fertilizers, and the orange tree dying for someone to water it?

In my experience, what happens in churches of that climate is that – just like the godly widows of 1 Timothy 5 – women are so busy and fulfilled tending the other trees of the Garden, that they have neither the time nor the desire to go apple picking. 

May our churches strengthen themselves and grow to more robust spiritual health by proactively encouraging Christian women to joyfully throw ourselves into the godly “good works which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” – the biblical “you can” of complementarianism.


Additional Resources

Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit

Let Me Count the Ways: 75 Ways Women Can Biblically Minister to Others

Unforbidden Fruits: 3 Ways Women MUST Lead and Teach the Church

Servanthood

The Servanthood Survey

Biblical Womanhood Bible Study

Imperishable Beauty: Lesson 17- The Most Beautiful Girl in the World…er…Bible- Finale

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

Read These Selected Scriptures

It’s been a beautiful 17 weeks studying biblical womanhood with you! Today, we’re bringing things to a close as we reflect on all we’ve learned. Links to all previous lessons are located above.

Questions to Consider

1. We started this study by looking at the Proverbs 31 woman (lessons 2-3), often considered the icon of biblical womanhood. In subsequent lessons, we tried to answer the question, “If the Proverbs 31 woman really is the ideal to attain to, how do we get there from here?”. And we’re finishing up today by looking back again at the Proverbs 31 woman. Is she really the quintessential picture of biblical womanhood? How do all the other Scriptures we’ve studied flesh out the ideal described in Proverbs 31?

2. What does verse 10 mean? Consider verse 10 in light of lessons 4-6. How does the fact that you were uniquely created by God (4), that your identity is found in Christ (5), and that you are a vital member of the Body of Christ (6), provide a foundation to build on for becoming the rare, excellent, godly woman?

3. Examine verses 11-12 in light of lesson 11. What are some of the ways you can be obedient to Scripture that will enable you to do your husband good and not harm, benefit him, and enable his heart to trust in you?

4. Consider verse 17 in light of lessons 7-9. How do knowing and loving God’s Word (7), obeying God’s Word (8), and sharing the gospel (9), dress you with strength and make your arms strong?

5. What is the general motif of verses 17, 22, 25? Compare these verses to the concept of “adorning” we studied in lesson 15. With what “clothing” should a godly woman “dress” or adorn herself?

6. Examine verse 26 in light of lessons 13-16. How can we open our mouths with wisdom and teach kindly through our position in the church (14), our portrayal of biblical womanhood in the church (15), and our proclamation of God’s Word (16) in the church? What are the unique opportunities single women (13) have to teach and model wisdom and kindness in the church?

7. Examine verses 27-28 in light of lessons 10-13. How can we diligently look well to the ways of our households and families as daughters (10), wives (11), mothers (12), and single women (13)?

8. In what specific areas has God grown you in biblical womanhood during the course of this study? What would you say was your most important takeaway from this study?


Homework

Go back over the questions in the “Expectations and Presuppositions” section of lesson 1. Have any of your answers changed? How or why? Did you get out of this study what you were hoping to get out of this study (#6)? Explain.


Suggested Memory Verse

Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.
Proverbs 31:31

Biblical Womanhood Bible Study

Imperishable Beauty: Lesson 16- A Beautiful Proclamation in the Church

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Read These Selected Scriptures

In our last lesson, we examined how we can beautifully portray biblical womanhood in the church. Today, we’ll finish up our section on biblical womanhood in the church by looking at how godly women can beautifully proclaim the Word of God in the Body of Christ.

Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review lessons 14-15 (links above), noting the instructions God has given to and about women regarding our role in the church. What are the do’s and don’ts God has laid out for us, especially in 1 Timothy 2:12, regarding teaching and authority in the gathered Body of Believers (the church)?

2. Examine the first two passages (Titus 2 and 2 Timothy 2) of Scripture. Recalling that these books are pastoral epistles, to whom are these instructions primarily addressed? To which venue (home, marketplace, church, etc.) do these instructions primarily apply?

In the Titus 2 passage, the Holy Spirit gives instructions for which individuals (1, 7-8)/groups (2, 3, 4-5, 6, 9-10)? Examine the instructions for Titus and for each group. Are they instructed to be something (character), or do something (actions), or both? Why does God instruct Titus and these groups to be and do these things? What is the point of all this godly character and behavior? (“so that”: 5b, 8b, 10b)

Who, in the Titus 2 passage, is instructed to “teach”? (1&7, 3-4) Why do you think God singles out only the pastor and older women with the instruction to teach and train? Who is the pastor to teach? Who are older women to teach and train? (4) Using the context of these verses, what age or station in life would you infer this passage means by “older” women? “Young” women? If it is the responsibility of older women to teach and train young women, what is the responsibility of the young women?

Examine verse 3 carefully. Is this a “do” verse or a “be” verse, or both? Which instruction comes first, “be” (character) or “do” (action)? Would it be biblically accurate to say that older women without the godly character described in the first part of verse 3 should not be doing the action (teaching) in the last part of verse 3 – that godly character is a prerequisite for teaching younger women?

Examine 3b-4a: “They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women…”. Does this sound like a command, or is it optional/a suggestion? If it is a command, doesn’t that make the character instructions in 3a a command as well? Take a moment to prayerfully evaluate yourself. How are you doing on the “be” and “do” of verses 3-4?

As you continue to examine 3b-4a- is there a difference between “teaching” and “training“? Could it be biblically accurate to say that teaching is to impart knowledge, and training is to show someone how to apply that knowledge to real life situations? (For example, teaching someone the rules and regulations of basketball in a classroom-type setting, versus putting that person on a basketball court and training her to apply those rules with basketball in hand.) Which comes first in 3b-4a, teaching or training? What does 3b say older women are to teach? What do 4a-5a say older women are to train younger women to be and do? Is it possible to train Christian women “to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands,” without first teaching them “what is good” – what the Bible says about how to do these things and why they should do them? Is it wise to attempt to train Christian women in these things without basing them in Scripture?

Even though 2 Timothy 2:15 is primarily addressed to pastors, does it still apply to others who teach God’s Word? How should this verse inform your teaching and training of younger women? Whose approval should you be seeking when handling God’s Word? What does this verse mean when it says “Do your best” so you will have “no need to be ashamed”? What does it mean to “rightly handle the Word of Truth”?

3. Carefully read the 2 Timothy 3 passage. How does the Holy Spirit describe people’s attitudes and actions during the last days? (2-5) Considering what He says these people will do in 5-6a, are the people He’s describing in 2-5 Christians or non-Christians? Church-goers or non-church-goers? What does it mean to have the appearance of godliness, but deny its power? (5a) How do verses 8-9 describe these same people from 5a? What term might we use for people like this today? How are we to regard such people? (5b) Why are we to “avoid such people” (5b), and who are “them” (6a)? Why does verse 6 specify “weak women” instead of saying “men” or “people”? How do verses 6-7 describe these at-risk women?

If the (2 Timothy 3) weak woman, unable to arrive at a knowledge of the truth and captured by false teachers who oppose the truth, is one of the (Titus 2) young women in the church, is she going to have a truthful, biblical understanding of how and why “to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands”? How can the (Titus 2) older woman “rightly handle the Word of Truth” and “teach what is good” to this younger woman? What sorts of good things from Scripture would this older woman need to teach the younger woman? Have you ever seen a scenario like this in your church? How would you apply the Scriptures we’re looking at to that scenario?

4. Look at the final three passages (1 Timothy 2, 2 Timothy 1 & 3). Besides women, what is another part of the church whom women are uniquely gifted to teach? (You may wish to go back to lesson 14 (link above) and re-read the paragraph near the end of the lesson which begins with, “Verse 15 can be a little cryptic…”. ). Who were Lois and Eunice? (1:5) To which child did they teach the Scriptures? (1:2,3:15) What did he go on to do as an adult? Who are some other men from Scripture who had mothers who trained them in godliness? Describe the impact Christian women can have on the church by training children in godliness and the Word.

5. Considering all of today’s passages, which two groups of people in the church has God blessed women to proclaim the Word to? If women were not teaching other women and children in the church, would the church be healthy?


Homework

Egalitarians often cite the women listed in Romans 16 and Priscilla and Aquila’s conversation with Apollos as evidence that God is OK with women preaching or instructing men in the church. How would you answer this argument? Examine both passages. Does Romans 16 say any of the women listed taught or preached? Was Priscilla’s and Aquila’s private conversation with Apollos the same as Priscilla teaching or preaching to the gathered Body of Believers? Would Paul have commended any of these women in Romans 16 if they had disobeyed his instructions in 1 Timothy 2:12?


Suggested Memory Verse

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15

Biblical Womanhood Bible Study

Imperishable Beauty: Lesson 15- A Beautiful Portrayal of Biblical Womanhood in the Church

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

Read These Selected Scriptures

In lesson 14 we looked at the beauty of women’s position in the church. Today, we’ll examine how our character can beautifully portray biblical womanhood in the church.

Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review lesson 14 (link above). What did you learn about the position women occupy in the church? As you study today’s lesson think about some of the ways you can portray biblical womanhood to others from that position.

2. Carefully examine the 1 Corinthians 11 passage. (As you study this passage, it may help to keep in mind that, unless widowed, virtually every adult woman in the church would have been married. That was the cultural norm. So Paul is able to use the terms “women” and “wives” nearly interchangeably. Click on the “Read These Selected Scriptures” link above and read the footnote (c) for verse 5.)

Compare the format of this introduction (2-3) to the format of the introduction of the letters to three of the seven churches in Revelation. Describe this format noting how the word “but” acts as a pivot point for all four passages. For what does Paul commend the Corinthian church? (2) “But” in what area of church life does Paul imply the Corinthians are not “getting it”? (3) Explain what verse 3 means as it applies to the day-to-day functioning of the church both in Corinth and today. What is the authority “flow chart” for the church?

Verse 3 serves as the main idea or theme of this passage. What is the main theological point God is trying to drive home to the church?

To what event in biblical history is Paul referring in 7b-9? Compare these verses with 1 Timothy 2:12-14. Explain how the creative order (man created first, woman second / man as head, woman as helper) is the cornerstone of the authority structure (3) in the family and the church.

In 4-5 and 14-15, Paul uses two separate examples from Corinthian culture that demonstrate the differences between men and women in order to illustrate the concept of the hierarchy of authority in the church. What are those two examples? Is God commanding that Christian women today must have long hair and must cover their heads when praying? Is God commanding that Christian men today must have short hair and must never cover their heads while praying?

In Corinthian culture, one of the ways women could portray biblical womanhood in the church was to signify by wearing their veils that they embraced submitting to their husbands and to the authority structure of the church. Can you think of any similar ways women can portray biblical womanhood today?

3. Examine the 1 Timothy 2 and 1 Peter 3 passages. What is the venue or setting for the instructions in each? (You may need to look at more of each chapter.) Locate the word “but” in each of these passages (2:10, 3:4), noting the concept that comes before the word “but” and after it. Describe how women are not to adorn themselves. “But” describe how women are to adorn themselves. Are things like braids, jewelry, and clothes intrinsically sinful, or is Paul again giving cultural examples to illustrate a theological point he’s making? What is that point? What is it about the bent of women’s hearts that would cause God to give this instruction to women in the context of the home and the church, but not to give this instruction to men at all? As godly women, where is our focus to be? How does it benefit the church for us to “wear”, or portray, biblical womanhood by adorning ourselves modestly and with good works?

What similar themes do you see in these two passages and the 1 Corinthians 11 passage? How do these three passages work together to demonstrate to us how we may live out biblical womanhood in the church?

4. Locate, in the 1 Timothy 2 (10), 1 Peter 3 (6), and 1 Timothy 5 (10) passages the phrases about doing good works. How are good works a major responsibility of women in the church, and a main way we display biblical womanhood?

Explain the context of the 1 Timothy 5 passage. The passage is talking about women who are _______. But a large part of this passage talks about how these women lived and served the church prior to becoming widows. Make a two column list. On one side, list the good works of all the women (widowed, married, young widows, any believing woman, etc.) mentioned in this passage. On the other side, list some specific ways you and other women in the church can carry out these good works today.

What are the “bad works” to be avoided in this passage? How can focusing on doing good works help us to avoid the bad works?

5. Study the remaining passages (Luke, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians) in today’s lesson. How did the women who followed Jesus, Dorcas, Lydia, and Priscilla (Prisca) each portray biblical womanhood in the church by their character and good works? To whom did they minister? How did the church benefit from each of them robustly living out God’s plan for women in the church?


Homework

If you’d like to read more about some of the passages from today’s lesson, you might enjoy the following articles:

Rock Your Role: A Head of the Times- Head Coverings for Christian Women?

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Calvinism, Baptism, Modesty…)

Rock Your Role: Oh No She Di-int! Priscilla Didn’t Preach, Deborah Didn’t Dominate, and Esther Wasn’t an Egalitarian


Suggested Memory Verse

Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.
1 Corinthians 11:11-12