Chapter 12, part 3:

Christian Family Organization

Jehovah is the Creator of all living things. Looking at creation, we see a variety of living arrangements and gender relationships. Many in the world feel moved to try some of these animal behaviors, using nice-sounding euphemisms such as "free love" or "playing the field". Did our Creator give us any guidance as to what is proper for humans?

In Eden Jehovah decided it was time for Adam to have his mate, as the other creatures had. Did he create a harem for him? Did Adam get 70 virgins in paradise like the Moslems teach? No. He made him one woman, to be "a helper for him, as a complement of him." Then he presented her to Adam and "married" them, and Adam composed some poetry for the occasion. Then the writer of Genesis comments: "That is why a man will leave his father and his mother and he must stick to his wife and they must become one flesh." —Gen 2:18, 21-24.

The word "complement" means "something that completes, or makes whole." Eve was all Adam needed to fulfill his assignment, filling the earth with humankind. She had the complementary qualities needed for the well-balanced upbringing of children. From this very early scene we see established the relationship that in time became more clearly delineated in God's law: loyal fidelity of one husband to one wife, acting as a single unit in serving God. As Jesus put it, "he who created them made them male and female and said, ‘. . . a man will leave his father and his mother and will stick to his wife, and the two will be one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has yoked together let no man put apart." —Matt 19:4-6.

Because they are "one flesh", "husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. A man does not hate his own flesh, but he feeds and cherishes it, as Christ does his congregation. . . . On the other hand, a wife should have deep respect for her husband. . . let wives be in subjection to their husbands as to the Lord, because a husband is head of his wife as Christ is head of the congregation. . . as the congregation is in subjection to Christ, let wives also be to their husbands in everything." (Ephesians 5:28-30, then vss 22-24.)

In everything? Surely not! It is easy to see how we could submit to God in everything, because his wisdom is infinite; he is never wrong. Men can only imagine that they are so wonderful. So seriously, what does "in everything" mean? It is actually the same as a Christian's submission to the congregation. We are humble, we cooperate with organizational direction, we do not seek our own selfish advantage, but "pursue the things making for peace." As discussed above, that does not forbid us from asking questions, requesting clarification, and offering pertinent information (including a personal viewpoint) that may affect a decision. And if a directive is clearly wrong, against God, we may rightly refuse it. A husband and wife, of course, have a more personal relationship, which gives her more opportunities to "ask questions and offer information," even voice her disagreement. Respectfully disagreeing is not a sin; being disagreeable is. There is never any justification for "screaming and abusive speech." (Eph 4:26, 29, 31) When the husband is like Christ as he should be, he will accept her difference of viewpoint graciously and consider it seriously. Mind you, that does not mean he has to agree with her. But just as Christ gave his life for his congregation, he may go to pains to honor her wishes. If he decides that is not the appropriate thing to do in this case, she will yield, knowing that his love is sure.

What if the husband bears no resemblance to Christ at all, and often acts selfishly and irresponsibly? That does not free her to divorce him; the marriage is a covenant, a sworn oath before Jehovah. He sets the conditions whereby it may be dissolved, and he states clearly that only infidelity breaks the bond. (Matt 19:9) But God does not require a wife to submit to grievous injury. Prolonged and intolerable physical or psychological abuse, including severe neglect, may compel her to find other living arrangements, that is, to separate. Even so, the marriage remains in force until he is unfaithful (which in such a case is rather likely). Separation by itself does not free her to seek another relationship.

Most husbands are not that bad, but neither are they as sweet as a wife could wish for. Christian love patiently bears many offenses. It does not become bitter about the imperfections of a mate, but focuses on what is good. "Love endures all things, hopes all things." (1 Cor 13.4-7) Perhaps a husband is not a Christian in deed. Peter gives this inspired advice: “Wives, be in subjection to your husbands, so that if any are not obedient to the word, they may be won without a word through your conduct, because of seeing your chaste conduct and deep respect.” (1 Pet 3.1,2) Paul encourages: ‘Do not leave your unbelieving husband, if he is willing to stay with you. You may in time save him.’ (1 Cor 7.10-16.) Yes, you can hope to change him. Yes, miracles can still happen! If he has that seed of humility and appreciation, he will improve. Your endurance may yield wonderful results.

Being "head" of the family does not require that the husband micromanage everything. Proverbs 31:10, 11 says ‘a capable wife is worth far more than corals. In her the heart of her owner has put trust, and there is no gain lacking.’ (In those days a husband was said to "own" his wife, but that did not mean she was to be regarded as a servant. It was a legal relationship that could work for her protection.) The rest of the chapter describes a woman with considerable freedom to conduct business on her own initiative, even buying property. Her well-directed works make her husband an honored man "in the gates," that is, among the assembled counselors. Or as they say, "behind every great man is a strong woman." And he recognizes that: "he rises up and praises her," says verse 28. The poem ends, "Give her of the fruitage of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates."

From this we can see that a husband may choose to delegate much of the day-to-day financial management of the household to his wife, if she is willing and able. He cannot, however, hand over headship. He is still responsible, as head, to make (or finalize after reasonable discussion) many decisions that affect the family, so he must remain connected and aware of the family's financial situation. Some husbands are happy to relax into the role of a child, bringing home the paycheck and then rushing out to play, letting his wife run the household on her own. If he is inept, she may prefer this arrangement, but it is not a healthy relationship and it is not the organization God ordains. A husband must learn to be a true husband and proper head for his family. A wife can make this possible, or nearly impossible. As the proverb above noted, "she has rewarded him with good, and not bad, all the days of her life." Or as Proverbs 14:1 says, "the truly wise woman has built up her house, but the foolish one tears it down with her hands." Or with her tongue, see 27:15, 16.

Children’s Place in the Christian Family

Children are not little adults. The Bible says, "foolishness is tied up with the heart of a boy." Parents can vouch for that. Little girls have their moments too. And then they become teenagers. . . . Need we say more? So Jehovah wisely requires parents to be responsible and have full authority over their children. No parent who knows God will abuse that authority. —Prov 22:15.

Children naturally look for boundaries, and test them. They do not really want reasonable boundaries to collapse when they push. They actually find security in knowing where the walls are. Discernment based on experience and God's word gives Christian parents wisdom to set proper limits for their children, appropriate to their age. These should always be communicated in a kindly, loving way. However, parents should never beg or bargain for obedience. The proverb quoted above continues, "the rod of discipline will remove [the foolishness] far from him." And everyone knows the saying, "spare the rod and spoil the child." (Not in the Bible, but a similar point is made at Prov 23:13, 14.)

The literal rod (or belt) has been badly misused by multitudes of parents, and such cruelty tends to get passed down through generations. But discipline actually means discipling, that is, teaching. There are many ways to teach, and a loving parent will always try to reach the heart though the child's eyes first, by being an example; through his ears second, by patiently explaining; and a gentle touch can reinforce words. But God knows that it is necessary at times to use a stronger "touch", even a measured bit of pain: sometimes by withholding a privilege, sometimes directly to the skin. When you are serious, your child needs to know it. Never in rage, always reluctantly, but because the lesson must be learned. “A boy let on the loose will cause his mother shame,” says Proverbs 29:15. “O my son, do not reject the discipline of Jehovah,” pleads the father at Proverbs 3:11. “Do not hate his reproof, for the one whom Jehovah loves, he reproves, even as a father does a son in whom he finds pleasure.” “What sort of son is left without discipline?” Paul asks at Hebrews 12:7. “Really, if you are not disciplined, you are illegitimate children, and not sons.” True, discipline can sting, especially if we resist, but if we accept the training, it produces peaceful results: righteousness, which means life. (see verses 5-11.) So our heavenly Father tells fathers*: "do not be provoking your children [such as by being unreasonable, inconsistent, overbearing, or absent], but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." With a skilled hand try to instill a love for truth. Jehovah will bless your efforts. —Eph 4:4; see also Prov 13:24.

Parents, do not succumb to the temptation to let your authority go to your head. You should not be a tyrant. Do not make rules "just to show who's boss." If your child objects to an instruction, do not slap him down as impertinent. You may have to assert a denial of something they desire, simply on your authority, without elaborate explanation; but more often you should be able to explain why something is not permitted. Just because children are small does not make them worth less in the eyes of God. They are as precious as you are, possibly more so, for God treasures their eagerness to learn and to please. He wishes you were like that! Jesus said: “If you do not become as little children, you will by no means enter into the kingdom of the heavens.” Remember that. If you accord them the respect of listening to their viewpoint, they will tend to respect you in return. If you habitually brush aside their view as if worthless, they will eventually find a way to ignore you, to get what they want (no matter how foolish) without your knowing. This can be deadly to them and heartbreaking to you. So value two-way communication. It is essential for teaching. —Matt 18:3.

To the children, God says directly: “Children, be obedient to your parents in union with the Lord, for this is righteous. ‘Honor your father and mother’ is the first command with a promise: ‘That it may go well with you and you may endure a long time on the earth.’” What if your parents are not "in union with the Lord"? Just like the wife of an unbeliever discussed above, you are not free to disregard their authority, even if their instruction is somewhat damaged by being out of alignment with God's wisdom. Only if they press you to disregard God may you firmly resist. Most parents, even unbelievers, will let you explain something that is important to you. Peter tells us all, ‘Do not get agitated. In your heart be confident that Christ is Lord, and be always ready to defend the reason for your hope before anyone who demands it of you, but doing so with a mild temper and deep respect.’

Returning to our greater subject of Christian organization, new disciples may resemble children in some ways, but most of them are not children and should not be treated as children. Along with the established members of the congregation, they should be accorded the dignity and respect appropriate for independent adults, while considerately keeping their spiritual immaturity in mind.

Should Women Be Preachers?

“The women telling the good news are a large army,” the Bible proudly proclaims. The female gender has a honored record of bold and faithful service to God. Paul recognized Euodia and Syntyche as women who “have striven side by side with me in the Good News.” Priscilla is favorably mentioned as an able teacher. —Psalm 68:11, Philippians 4:2, 3, Acts 18:24-26, Romans 16:3-5.

Nevertheless, unlike the trend in modern churches, Jesus did not authorize the appointment of women as overseers. Paul explains why at 1 Corinthians 11.2-16, 14.33-35, 40, and 1 Timothy 2.12, 13. Here he cites God's original arrangement of family headship, and applies it to authority to lead within the congregation. He makes a comment that seems outrageous: "let the women keep silent in the congregation, for it is not permitted for them to speak. If they want to learn something, let them question their own husbands at home, for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the congregation." Pity the poor woman who has no husband! And what if her husband is an unbeliever? What answer is he likely to give her spiritual questions? Obviously, what Paul said calls for some reasonable explanation.

To "speak in the congregation" means to rise up and teach, to lead. Or in the case of "wanting to learn something", to ask questions before the assembled group, as if only the group together could address the question. This implies that the questioner feels that it is a matter of import to the congregation as a body. It could even involve challenging a teaching or a decision. So the women are to be "silent" only as to standing before the congregation as teachers or as having authority to steer the discussion in a meeting to matters that interest them. Really, it would not be proper for anyone, woman or man, to rise up in the assembly and ask a challenging question, disrupting the meeting. "Let all things take place decently and by arrangement," Paul says. So if there is a matter that concerns us, we are welcome to seek answers privately, in a way that does not attempt to divide or offend the congregation. If the older men feel the matter needs to be considered in assembly, they will arrange for that. If a woman has no qualified husband to query, the scriptures (at Titus 2:3, 4) tell the older (mature) women to instruct younger ones. Hence it is quite acceptable for the "sisters" to help one another in spiritual matters.

As shown in the discussion at Acts 15:6-22, when there is a meeting to discuss the pros and cons of a decision, the "older men" would stand to speak in turn to have their say. If women were present, evidently Paul’s comment means that they would not take the floor as equals. But does it mean they were to be regarded as of inferior intellect? As having only foolish opinions not worthy of being heard? Of course not. First, a woman may readily be invited to offer her thoughts to the congregation (compare John 20:17, 18.) The point here is that she would not presume to speak out without permission, and even with permission would guard her manner of address, maintaining respectful deference to the headship of the elders. Also, privately, away from the forum of a congregation meeting, women often are able to share their feminine insight with men (especially their husbands) when they need that help.* Although inspired organizational instructions do limit the forum and method women are allowed to express their wisdom, godly women who humbly work within these limits are still able to accomplish much good.

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Gen 2:18, 21-24
And Jehovah God went on to say: “It is not good for the man to continue by himself. I am going to make a helper for him, as a complement of him.” . . 21 Hence Jehovah God had a deep sleep fall upon the man and, while he was sleeping, he took one of his ribs and then closed up the flesh over its place. And Jehovah God proceeded to build the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman and to bring her to the man. Then the man said: “This is at last bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh. This one will be called Woman, Because from man this one was taken.” That is why a man will leave his father and his mother and he must stick to his wife and they must become one flesh.

Ephesians 5:28-30
In this way husbands ought to be loving their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself, for no man ever hated his own flesh; but he feeds and cherishes it, as the Christ also does the congregation, because we are members of his body.
22-24 Let wives be in subjection to their husbands as to the Lord, because a husband is head of his wife as the Christ also is head of the congregation, he being a savior of this body. In fact, as the congregation is in subjection to the Christ, so let wives also be to their husbands in everything.

Eph 4:26, 29, 31
Be wrathful, and yet do not sin; let the sun not set with you in a provoked state . . . 29 Never allow a putrid [rotted, foul, corrupt] utterance go out of your mouth, but whatever saying is good for building up as the need may be, that it may impart what is favorable to the hearers. . . 31 Let all malicious bitterness and anger and wrath and screaming and abusive speech be taken away from you along with all badness.

Matt 19:9
I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except on the ground of fornication, and marries another commits adultery.

1 Cor 13.4-7
Love is long-suffering and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, does not get puffed up, does not behave indecently, does not look for its own interests, does not become provoked. It does not keep account of the injury. It does not rejoice over unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

1 Cor 7.10-16
To the married people I give instructions, yet not I but the Lord, that a wife should not depart from her husband; but if she does actually depart, let her remain unmarried or else make up again with her husband; and a husband should not leave his wife. But to the others I say, yes, I, not the Lord: If any brother has an unbelieving wife, and yet she is agreeable to dwelling with him, let him not leave her; and a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and yet he is agreeable to dwelling with her, let her not leave her husband. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified in relation to his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified in relation to the brother; otherwise, your children would be unholy, but now they are holy. But if the unbelieving one goes on to depart, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not in servitude under such circumstances, but God has called you to peace. For, wife, how do you know but that you will save your husband? Or, husband, how do you know but that you will save your wife?

Proverbs 31:10-31
A capable wife who can find? Her value is far more than that of corals. In her the heart of her owner has put trust, and there is no gain lacking. She has rewarded him with good, and not bad, all the days of her life. She has sought wool and linen, and she works at whatever is the delight of her hands. She has proved to be like the ships of a merchant. From far away she brings in her food. She also gets up while it is still night, and gives food to her household and the prescribed portion to her young women. She has considered a field and proceeded to obtain it; from the fruitage of her hands she has planted a vineyard. She has girded her hips with strength, and she invigorates her arms. She has sensed that her trading is good; her lamp does not go out at night. Her hands she has reached out to the distaff, and her own hands take hold of the spindle. Her palm she has stretched out to the afflicted one, and her hands she has held out to the poor one. She does not fear for her household because of the snow, for all her household are clothed with double garments. Coverlets she has made for herself. Her clothing is of linen and wool dyed reddish purple. Her owner is someone known in the gates, when he sits down with the older men of the land. She has made even undergarments and proceeded to sell them, and belts she has given to the tradesmen. Strength and splendor are her clothing, and she laughs at a future day. Her mouth she has opened in wisdom, and the law of loving-kindness is upon her tongue. She is watching over the goings-on of her household, and the bread of laziness she does not eat. Her sons have risen up and proceeded to pronounce her happy; her owner rises up, and he praises her. There are many daughters that have shown capableness, but you—you have ascended above them all. Charm may be false, and prettiness may be vain; the woman that fears Jehovah is the one that earns praise for herself. Give her of the fruitage of her hands, and let her works praise her even in the gates.

Proverbs 27:15, 16
A leaking roof that drives one away in the day of a steady rain and a contentious wife are comparable. Anyone sheltering her has sheltered the [storm]wind, and oil is what his right hand encounters. [That is, cannot hold on to it.]

Prov 22:15
Foolishness is tied up with the heart of a boy; the rod of discipline is what will remove it far from him.

Prov 23:13, 14
Do not hold back discipline even when the boy is young. He will not die if you strike him with the rod. You yourself should smack him with the rod, that you may deliver his soul from Sheol.

[This is NOT counseling violent whipping; as little as a single smack may be required to get a stubborn child's attention. Whatever the degree, its purpose is to ensure he is keenly aware that the matter at issue is very serious. As the verse says, you could be saving his very life. Whatever pain you must inflict will certainly be much less than he would get into if allowed to run free. Your motive must be entirely love, not anger or hate.]

Hebrews 12:5-11
You have entirely forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons: “My son, do not belittle discipline from Jehovah, neither give out when you are corrected by him; for whom Jehovah loves he disciplines; in fact, he scourges every one whom he receives as a son.” It is for discipline you are enduring. God is dealing with you as with sons. For what son is he that a father does not discipline? But if you are without the discipline of which all have become partakers, you are really illegitimate children, and not sons. Furthermore, we used to have fathers who were of our flesh to discipline us, and we used to give them respect. Shall we not much more subject ourselves to the Father of our spiritual life and live? For they for a few days used to discipline us according to what seemed good to them, but he does so for our profit that we may partake of his holiness. True, no discipline seems for the present to be joyous, but grievous; yet afterward to those who have been trained by it it yields peaceable fruit, namely, righteousness.

Prov 13:24
The one holding back his rod is hating his son, but the one loving him is he that does look for him with discipline.

Proverbs 1:8
Listen, my son, to the discipline of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother.
6:20
Observe, O my son, the commandment of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother.
30:17
The eye that holds a father in derision and that despises obedience to a mother—the ravens of the torrent valley will pick it out and the sons of the eagle will eat it up.
31:1
The words of Lemuel the king, the weighty message that his mother gave to him in correction—

Matt 18:3
Truly I say to you, Unless you turn around and become as young children, you will by no means enter into the kingdom of the heavens.

Philippians 4:2, 3
Euodia I exhort and Syntyche I exhort to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, I request you too, genuine yokefellow, keep assisting these women who have striven side by side with me in the good news along with Clement as well as the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Acts 18:24-26
Now a certain Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, an eloquent man, arrived in Ephesus; and he was well versed in the Scriptures. This man had been orally instructed in the way of Jehovah and, as he was aglow with the spirit, he went speaking and teaching with correctness the things about Jesus, but being acquainted with only the baptism of John. And this man started to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him into their company and expounded the way of God more correctly to him. Romans 16:3-5
Give my greetings to Prisca and Aquila my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who have risked their own necks for my soul, to whom not only I but also all the congregations of the nations render thanks; and greet the congregation that is in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who is a firstfruits of Asia for Christ.

1 Samuel 25:2-38
Now there was a man in Maon, and his work was in Carmel. And the man was very great, and he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats; and he came to be shearing his sheep at Carmel. And the man’s name was Nabal [meaning "stupid, lacking good sense"— quite a name to carry], and his wife’s name was Abigail. And the wife was good in discretion and beautiful in form, but the husband was harsh and bad in his practices . . . And David got to hear in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep. So David sent ten young men, [telling them:] “Go up to Carmel, and you must come to Nabal and ask him in my name about his welfare. And this is what you must say to my brother, ‘May you be well and also your household be well and all that you have be well. And now I have heard that you have shearers. Now the shepherds that belong to you happened themselves to be with us. We did not molest them, and nothing at all showed up missing of theirs all the days they happened to be in Carmel. Ask your own young men, and they will tell you, that my young men may find favor in your eyes . . . Just give, please, whatever your hand may find to your servants and to your son David.’” Accordingly David’s young men came and spoke to Nabal all these words in the name of David and then waited. At this Nabal answered David’s servants and said: “Who is David, and who is the son of Jesse? Nowadays the servants that are breaking away, each one from before his master, have become many. And do I have to take my bread and my water and my slaughtered meat that I have butchered for my shearers and give it to men of whom I do not even know from where they are?” Upon that David’s young men turned around on their way and went back and came and reported to him [Nabal's] words. Immediately David said to his men: “Gird on every one his sword!” So they girded on every one his sword and David also girded on his own sword; and they began to go up after David, about four hundred men . . . Meanwhile, to Abigail, Nabal’s wife, one of the young men reported, saying: “Look! David sent messengers from the wilderness to wish our master well, but he screamed rebukes at them. And the men were very good to us, and they did not molest us, and we did not miss a single thing all the days of our walking about with them while we happened to be in the field. A wall was what they proved to be around us both by night and by day, all the days that we happened to be with them, shepherding the flock. And now know and see what you are going to do, for calamity has been determined against our master and against all his house, as he is too much of a good-for-nothing fellow to speak to him.” At once Abigail hastened and took two hundred loaves of bread and two large jars of wine and five sheep dressed and five seah measures of roasted grain and a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs and put them upon the asses. Then she said to her young men: “Pass on ahead of me. Look! I am coming after you.” But to her husband Nabal she told nothing. And it occurred that while she was riding on the ass and secretly going down the mountain, why, there were David and his men coming down to meet her. . . When Abigail caught sight of David, she at once hastened and got down off the ass and fell upon her face before David and bowed to the earth. . . and said: “Upon me myself, O my lord, be the error; and, please, let your slave girl speak . . . Please, do not let my lord set his heart upon this good-for-nothing man Nabal, for, as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name, and senselessness is with him. As for me your slave girl, I did not see my lord’s young men that you had sent. And now, my lord, as Jehovah is living and as your soul is living, Jehovah has held you back from entering into bloodguilt and having your own hand come to your salvation. And now let your enemies and those seeking injury to my lord become like Nabal. And now as regards this gift blessing that your maidservant has brought to my lord, it must be given to the young men that are walking about in the steps of my lord. Pardon, please, the transgression of your slave girl, because Jehovah will without fail make for my lord a lasting house, because the wars of Jehovah are what my lord is fighting . . . And let this not become to you a cause for staggering or a stumbling block to the heart of my lord, both by the shedding of blood without cause and by having the hand of my lord come to his own salvation. And Jehovah will certainly do good to my lord, and you must remember your slave girl.” At this David said to Abigail: “Blessed be Jehovah the God of Israel, who has sent you this day to meet me! And blessed be your sensibleness, and blessed be you who have restrained me this day from entering into bloodguilt and having my own hand come to my salvation. And, on the other hand, as Jehovah the God of Israel is living, who has held me back from doing injury to you, if you had not hastened that you might come to meet me, there would certainly not have remained to Nabal until the morning light anyone urinating against a wall.” With that David accepted from her hand what she had brought him, and to her he said: “Go up in peace to your house. See, I have listened to your voice that I may have consideration for your person.” Later Abigail came in to Nabal, and there he was having a feast in his house like the feast of the king; and Nabal’s heart was feeling good within him, and he was as drunk as could be; and she did not tell him a thing, small or great, until the morning light. And it came about in the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, that his wife went telling him these things. And his heart came to be dead inside him, and he himself became as a stone. After that about ten days elapsed and then Jehovah struck Nabal, so that he died.

Titus 2:3, 4
Likewise let the aged women be reverent in behavior, not slanderous, neither enslaved to a lot of wine, teachers of what is good; that they may recall the young women to their senses to love their husbands, to love their children.

Acts 15:6-22
The apostles and the older men gathered together to see about this affair [a controversy over circumcision]. Now when much disputing had taken place, Peter rose and said to them: “Men, brothers, you well know that from early days God made the choice among you that through my mouth people of the nations should hear the word of the good news and believe; and God, who knows the heart, bore witness by giving them the holy spirit*. . .” At that the entire multitude became silent, and they began to listen to Barnabas and Paul relate the many signs and portents that God did through them among the nations. After they quit speaking, James answered, saying: “Men, brothers, hear me. Symeon [Peter] has related thoroughly how God for the first time turned his attention to the nations . . . Hence my decision is not to trouble those from the nations who are turning to God, but to write them to abstain from things polluted by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood.” . . . Then the apostles and the older men together with the whole congregation favored sending chosen men from among them to Antioch along with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas who was called Barsabbas and Silas, leading men among the brothers.

*speeches edited for length, as the point here is the manner of discussion. The entire passage is linked earlier in this chapter.

John 20:17, 18
Jesus said to her: “Stop clinging to me. For I have not yet ascended to the Father. But be on your way to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father and to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene came and brought the news to the disciples: “I have seen the Lord!” and that he said these things to her.

Review for Chapter 12

Why are Christians organized?

Why are Christians united?

Describe the organization of Israel.

What is a congregation?

As Christianity spread, what kept them united?

How did the governing body function?

How were the congregations governed locally?

How were the local leaders chosen?

What kind of men were these elders?

Why are the elders called "shepherds"?

What did Christ look for as the last days began?

How did he identify the faithful slave?

What is the responsibility of the faithful slave?

How is the faithful slave rewarded?

Who today fulfill the obligations of the faithful slave?

How can you be a faithful slave?

Describe the various positions of service in the congregation.

Part 2
Why did Peter have to be corrected?

Why did the governing body give Paul flawed advice?

Why did Paul accept it?

How do elders differ from clergymen?

When leaders fail, should we follow?

Why are apostates not to be greeted?

How must unrepentant wrongdoers be disciplined?

How may repentant ex-Christians be shown mercy?

Part 3
What position does a husband hold in the family?

What limits the submission of the wife?

Why should a wife endure an imperfect husband?

What is discipline, and what authority do parents have?

Restore Scripture View

Mothers also have full authority over all minors within the home (although stepfamilies do present complicating issues we will not discuss here). Note Proverbs 1:8, 6:20, 30:17, and 31:1.
For example, sensible Abigail was able to prevent David from committing a seriously excessive act of anger against Nabal's household. See 1 Samuel 25:2-38. Note that she had to act without her foolish husband's permission.