Women of first century congregations were in positions of leadership, even over men. There are passages in the New Testament needing clarification, especially in Paul’s letters to Corinth and Ephesus. To Corinth Paul wrote, The wives must be silent in the congregations: for it is not permitted for them to speak, but they must be subject, just as also Torah (Teaching) (Gen. 3:16) says. 35. And if some want to learn, they must ask their own husbands at home: for it is shameful for a wife to speak in a congregation. 1 Cor. 14:34. Then to Ephesus, Being subject to one another in reverent fear of Messiah, 22. wives to their own husbands as to the Lord, 23. because a husband is head of his wife as also the Messiah is head of the congregation, He is savior of the body: 24. but as the congregation is subject to the Messiah, so also should wives be subject to their husbands in everything. 25. Husbands, you must continually love your wives, just as the Messiah also loved the congregation and gave Himself over on her behalf, 26. so that He would sanctify His wife, the congregation, the bride, making her pure by washing with the word of Torah (Teaching), 27. in order that He would present for Himself the glorious congregation, not having spot or wrinkle or any of such things, but so that His bride would be holy and without blemish. 28. In this way husbands are obligated to love their own wives as their own bodies. The one who loves his own wife loves himself. 29. For no one ever hated his own flesh but nourishes and cherishes it, just as also the Messiah nourishes and cherishes the congregation, 30. because we are members of His body. 31. “For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and be faithfully devoted to his wife, and the two will be in one flesh.” (Gen. 2:24) 32. This mystery is great: now I say this in Messiah then in respect to the congregation. 33. But then you one by one, each must continually love his own wife just as himself, and that the wife should respect her husband. Eph. 5:21. To Ephesus Paul begins with “Being subject one to another..” which is in the vein of the Genesis creation. Corinth was home of the fertility goddess Diana and Ephesus was home to the fertility goddess Artemis, so both cities were matriarchal where women dominated, causing problems in the congregations. Wives interrupted services, talking out loud, asking questions. In Colossians 3:18 Paul admonishes wives to be subject to their husbands, then in verse 19 admonishes husbands to love their wives, bringing up the husband’s obligation to respect a wife, reinforcing the equal status of creation.
Those relationships of creation are based on Jewish understanding of the relationship of Adam and Eve from Genesis 2:21. And the LORD* God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept. And He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh in its place. 22. And He built the rib, which the LORD* God had taken from man, into a woman and brought her to the man. 23. And Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She will be called Wife (Ishah), because she was taken out of Husband (Ish). 24. Therefore a man will leave his father and his mother and will cling to his wife, and they will be one flesh.” Eve was made equal to Adam and adequate for any assignment given to Adam, as it should be today in ministry.