[The following is taken out of the last pages of the tract "Bible
Classes and Women Teachers" written by brother Irvin Barnes].
GOD'S WAY IS ALWAYS BETTER! His way is always
sufficient. It has already
been proven by command, statement, example and inference that the church
is to gather in a single assembly for public teaching. This is the
arrangement. This is God's way. In regulating the gift of
sets forth the one assembly concept in 1 Cor. 14:31, "For ye may all
prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted."
It is noteworthy how the word all appears three times in this short
passage. Please note the primary concept set forth. One speaker
at a time to one undivided assembly so that "all" may learn!
aside the matter of spiritual gifts or other questions about the
passage, please understand that Paul here confirms that "all" can
in an undivided assembly with one speaker doing the teaching. This
true, there is positively no need whatsoever for classes.
An interesting prophecy concerning how God's word will go forth is found
in Isa. 55:8-11, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are
your ways my ways, saith the Lord, For as the heavens are higher than
the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than
your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down and the snow from heaven, and
returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth
and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So
shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return
unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall
prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."
When rain falls the same measure of water falls on the giant oak as on
the small sprout growing beside it. The oak absorbs perhaps hundreds
times more moisture than does the tender sprout. The young plant
what it can use and grows year by year until it may eventually take in
as much or even more than does the giant oak. This illustrates God's
plan for the public teaching of His word and His people. Preach all of
the Bible to all of the people, continuously. The babes in Christ will
absorb as much as they need for proper spiritual growth and
The mature Christian will absorb the truth in ratio to age and
This is a way that is scriptural, simple, safe, and workable, and should
have never been tampered with by adding the class arrangement.
ARE CLASSES IN THE CHURCH?
The expression, "in the church," is used a number of places in
Testament. 1 Cor. 11:18, "...when ye come together in the
Cor. 11:20, "...when ye come together therefore into one place..."
Cor. 14:19, "Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my
understanding..." 1 Cor. 14:23, "If therefore the whole church be
together in one place..." 1 Cor. 14:28, "But if there be no
let him keep silence in the church." 1 Cor. 14:35, "For it is a
for women to speak in the church."
When a local congregation of the church of Christ comes together for a
public service there is a point at which the audience is called to order
and a point at which it is dismissed. All that transpires between this
calling to order and dismissing the crowd is to be considered as in the
church. Imagine people gathering for a church service at an appointed
time of ten A.M. The people, men, women, and children, may converse,
exchange greetings etc., until the appointed time arrives. At some
point a brother will call the audience to order. It may be with an
announcement, a song, a prayer etc. Once the audience is called to
order, the women cease to talk. Tongue speaking is regulated in the
event that foreigners are present and wish to speak. Simultaneous
teaching is forbidden. Confusion is not allowed. Common meals
be eaten. Why? Because the Scriptures teach that such is not to go on
in the church.
Are Bible classes then in the church? Does the church, when it is
assembled in classes constitute some form of church assembly? If so,
they clearly violate restrictions placed on the, "in the church,"
The first problem we might consider is that of women teachers. In
classes women direct or teach the class. In others, women read
scripture, ask and answer questions. If classes are in the church then
the women who participate in them are guilty of speaking in the church
which violates 1 Cor. 14:35.
Secondly, if classes are a form of church assembly then when two or more
classes are in session at the same time with a teacher speaking to each
class the church is guilty of endorsing simultaneous teaching. First
Corinthians 14:30-31, forbids two speakers to speak at the same time in
Classes are either a form of church assembly or they are not!
are either in the church or they are not in the church. Obviously,
who use classes must take the position that classes are private and not
public, that they are not in the church and do not constitute any form
of church assembly. They must so argue in order to escape the problems
of women teaching and more than one speaker speaking at a time. They
often argue that since each class excludes the presence of all the
others the teaching is private and not in the church. Since the
grownups do not attend the children's class then the children's class is
private and vice versa. The position stated in another way is to say
that, when the church is divided into classes, the classes are not in
the church. It seems that the only time they recognize the "in
church"capacity is when the church is assembled in an undivided
PROOF THAT CLASSES ARE IN THE CHURCH
The church is a public body. All its services, including the
of God's word in classes, is open to the public. The church in classes
does indeed constitute a form of church assembly. An unscriptural form
of assembly, in fact! When women speak in the classes they do indeed
speak in the church! When several classes are taught at the same time
the teachers are speaking simultaneously.
To say classes are not in the church is to defy logic. Would such a
position be held with regard to secular assemblies? Consider a local
public school for example. Would one reason that the fourth grade
is a private class in a public school just because it excludes the other
grades? Or, that simultaneous teaching is not going on in the school
just because the teachers over the various classes are divided by
partition walls? Or, that the classes are not in the school because
students are not all in the same room? Or, the women who teach are not
teaching in the school? Or, the only time teachers would actually be
guilty of teaching or speaking in the school would be during an assembly
in the gymnasium when the entire student body is assembled?
Obviously, a local school is a public body. Partition walls do not
change this fact. Arranging into classes does not take the students,
teacher nor the teaching out of the school and make their activities of
a private and informal nature. The church is a public body in the
assembled sense just as is a school! Partitions or arranging into
classes does not take the students, the teacher nor the teaching out of
the church nor do they render the teaching activities of the classes
private nor informal!
A glaring inconsistency exists among those who practice
There is a definite contradiction in what they say or claim and what
they do. While they say on one hand, classes are private and
no form of church assembly, on the other hand they turn right around and
place restrictions on the classes as if they are a church assembly! If
classes are not in the church then why restrict them as though they are?
For example, will brethren who provide classes allow the students to eat
a common meal while the teacher lectures or instructs them? The Bible
places no restrictions on private teaching. It is totally permissible
to teach another across the kitchen table during a common meal in a
private situation. If classes are really private and informal, then
not serve food or refreshments? If such is forbidden then why not just
admit the classes are in the church and are an addition to the divine
pattern for one undivided assembly?
In many of the class situations women are restricted as to whom they may
teach. In most Bible classes women are not allowed to teach an adult
male. They are restricted to teaching classes made up of only children
and other women. In Titus 2:3-4, women are instructed to teach other
women. In 2 Tim. 1:5 and 3:15, we have the implication of women
teaching a child, and in Acts 18:26, the case of a woman assisting in
expounding the way of the Lord more perfectly to an adult male. These
passages prove conclusively that a woman may teach another woman, a
child or a full grown man. Therefore, the Bible places no restrictions
whatsoever on a woman as to whom she may teach!
A woman is restricted, however, in where or in what capacity, she may
teach. She may not teach publicly. 1 Tim. 2: 11-12, "Let
learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to
nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence." The
"teach" is translated from the Greek word, "didasko,"
which is defined
in The Analytical Greek Lexicon by Samuel Bagster and Sons, P. 98; "to
teach or speak in a public assembly."
The term as here defined forbids a woman to teach in the assembly of the
church and in any other public situation as well. She may not teach on
radio, television, nor convene a crowd on a local street corner. A
may teach anybody in a private situation. She may teach nobody in a
public situation. It is no accident that the inspired Luke records how
Priscilla and Aquilla took Apollos, "unto them," so that Priscilla
assist in his instruction.
Now, back to the question of restricting a woman who teaches in a Bible
class. If the classes are private and not in the church why then can't
woman teach a man as Priscilla taught Apollos? Is it not because the
classes are recognized even by those who use them as a form of church
assembly? And because they realize the woman will usurp authority over
the man by teaching in a forbidden capacity? Just as she would if she
preached on radio or television? In private she may instruct anyone in
public she must learn in silence with all subjection. Once again, if
classes are private why do they restrict the women who teach them as if
the classes are public.
The following line of reasoning is sometimes offered in favor of women
teachers. "The Bible commands women to teach, Titus 2:3-4. Bible
classes merely give her an opportunity to fulfill her duty." It
true, women must teach. Titus 2:3-4 commands it. However, there
nothing whatsoever in this passage or any other which compels the church
to provide classes in order for a woman to fulfill her obligation to
teach. If so, then the women who lived in the time before classes were
started must have neglected their duty. The truth simply stated is, a
woman can fulfill her duty to teach quite well without classes.
Women are also taught to relieve the afflicted, bring up children, wash
the saints feet and follow diligently every good work, 1 Tim. 5:10.
These are qualifications for a widow indeed, however, these are things
the woman was to have been doing all her life as a Christian, when she
had a husband and children at home. If the church is to provide
so the woman may teach, then it must also make some arrangement to help
her relieve the afflicted, be hospitable, bring up children, etc. If
she can, on the other hand, bring up children, wait on the sick, and
show hospitality without the church making special provisions, or some
public program available to assist her, then it stands to reason she can
do her teaching duty without the church providing classes.
WHAT ABOUT RADIO AND TELEVISION PROGRAMS?
Since the Bible says nothing about preaching on radio and television, if
classes are wrong as an arrangement for teaching why isn't the use of
radio also wrong? Radio programs and classes certainly are not
parallel. Those who have classes must quickly admit classes and radio
are not the same for they allow women to teach in some of the classes,
yet they would not think of allowing a woman to teach on radio.
The most significant difference lies in the fact that the church
assembled in classes is a coordinate to the church assembled in an
unclassified assembly. Classes, not mentioned in the Scriptures, add
the undivided assembly, which is specified by command, example,
inference, and statement. A radio program is not a coordinate to the
assembly! One person projecting his voice electronically over the air
waves in no way resembles nor is it equal to a local assembly of the
body of Christ. Since a radio program is not coordinate to the
there is no violation by addition as there is in the arrangement for
teaching by classification. In radio teaching there is no assembling
Christians whatsoever. Classes constitute an unscriptural assembly!
THE CHURCH IS DRIFTING
The church in some areas is headed ever so swiftly towards a female
ministry! Lectureships and ladies seminars are being held across the
land. In a large Midwestern city a lectureship was sponsored by a
church of Christ. The circular advertising the lectureship listed the
subjects, places, and time each topic would be discussed along with a
picture of each speaker. Among those pictured were some women.
their subject titles appeared the words, "For women only."
town, one sister was featured as the speaker in an upcoming ladies
seminar. The advertisement said she had "spoken," various
places in the
U. S. and several foreign countries. The only difference between what
being encouraged by some churches of Christ today and going the full
route to women preachers is the restriction that our sisters may speak
to women only. How long will it be until we will hear of Sunday
worship services being conducted by women for women only? Or, of
meetings for women only? Or, in time someone promulgating a perversion
of the Scriptures in an attempt to justify dropping the "women
restriction and by such a perversion usher in the female ministry.
Who in the church of Christ thirty years ago would have believed some of
our sisters would be going on tour, holding seminars and lectureships?
A definite trend is taking hold. Many seem to no longer be satisfied
leave things as the Bible sets them forth, but are determined to be like
our denominational neighbors. It seems that some are no longer
satisfied to deal with denominationalism on the basis of the simple
truth found in the Bible but feel it is necessary to compete by
introducing into the Lords church plans and programs similar to those
offered by modern denominational bodies.
Aside from all the turmoil, breach of fellowship, and other
complications that have been caused by the introduction of classes into
the work and worship of the church, the congregations that insist on
continuing to provide them and members of the body of Christ that
continue to endorse them by participating in them, must face the
inevitable consequences of offering God an arrangement for teaching that
He has not asked for and therefore does not want!
3218 East Farm Road 88
Springfield, MO 65803-8447