by John Whritenor . revised 2014 


This tract is a series of excerpts from the book, “God’s Divine Order1.” You can obtain a copy of the full book from Saugerties Christian Fellowship if you want to examine in greater depth the proper role of women in serving the church. 

The Bible teaches that only men are to be in the government of the church and that women are not permitted to teach men. Or does it?  Many leaders have ordained women to pastor, teach, and lead churches. Who is right? What is God’s order for His church? Does the Bible accept and encourage women to minister and are they to be part of the government of the church or not? 


     Before we look in detail at a woman’s place in the church, let’s establish how we view the Bible. The Bible is either the inerrant Word of God or the errant word of man. If it was the Word of God in its original writing and remains so, then it had to be written by an infallible God through fallible men living in a fallible society. It then was translated by fallible people, preserved by fallible people, and read and interpreted by fallible people to bring infallible eternal truth to all people of all cultures. This is only possible if God watched over His word in its writing and preserved it down through the centuries. I believe this to be the case. 

If it is not inerrant, then it is the word of man, and account must be made of the weaknesses of men and culture. Those who believe it was only generally inspired usually end up viewing it as mostly the word of man. They slowly whittle away at various Scriptures until everything is “up for grabs,” including denying Christ’s virgin birth and even challenging salvation through Him alone. This process has been the history of the liberal church. I won’t address this approach because it calls into question the very nature of the Bible as the word of God. The moral absolutes of the Bible can easily be compromised (sadly this has already happened in some churches), and over time, may well be lost in many churches to the shifting sands of cultural morality. 


We can better understand the Bible by recognizing God’s order throughout Scripture. Patterns in the Old Testament can help in understanding the New Testament, unless the pattern is specifically changed by Scripture. One part of God’s design addresses how men and women are to function in the church. An overview of His order in the Old and New Testaments may help in understanding the passages that specifically address women under the New Covenant. However, before we look at “The Overall Pattern of God’s Order,” let’s look at two related subjects. The first is “God’s Order and Ministry for Women” to see what freedoms and what limitations, if any, there are for women in the New Testament as it is currently translated. Then we will look in detail at the question of “Women in Church Government.”   


Most churches recognize that all believing Christians, both men and women, have the responsibility and privilege of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost. But beyond this common calling, some authors believe that there are only two extreme places for women in the church. Women are either “equal” to men (and therefore, by their definition, allowed to be in governmental authority in the church) or subjugated as inferior to them. Is there room in God’s economy for a God-ordained order in which two “equals” are in a relationship where one of them is in a place of headship or oversight and the other in a place of willing submission? (More on equality later.) I find such an order in the Bible as it is currently translated. Nowhere in the Bible does it say or even imply that husbands are better than or superior to wives or that elders are better than or superior to other believers, whether men or women. Yet, women are specifically instructed by Scripture to be submissive to their husbands and all people are to submit to the leaders in the church. Scripture never states that husbands are to make their wives submit to them; they are instructed to be heads of their families and to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Elders also are not told to see that people submit to them; they are told to lead them and are challenged with accountability to God for how they lead and the attitude they exhibit in their leading (see Ephesians 5:22-26 for order in marriage and 1 Corinthians 14:34, 1 Timothy 3:1-7, and Hebrews 13:17 for order in the church). 

“Equality” between men and women is emphasized in Ephesians 4:11-14. This passage charges pastors, and those who exercise the other “ascension” gift ministries (gifts given when Jesus ascended), to equip “the saints for the work of ministry.” This equipping is to prepare and encourage everyone (both men and women without discrimination) to be active participants, not only in church services, but also in ministering personally to one another and to the lost (see 1 Corinthians 12:7 and 14:26, Romans 15:14, Acts 1:8). All believers are called to become active ministers of His life and grace. Ministering, or having a “ministry,” does not automatically mean one is a pastor or is involved in the church government. The New Testament’s view is that every believer in the church is to have a ministry. The exact ministry depends on the gifting and call of God in each life. Regardless of their individual calls, men and women are both to be vital parts of the life of the church. 


God has raised up very talented women in our day, many who speak His word with anointing. No doubt there have been capable women over the centuries who could also do so, but often they were constrained by unbiblical restrictions on women. Some churches have even forbidden women to speak in meetings. Changes in the church and in our culture have released them to a great degree. At times this release has been wrongly influenced by the radical feminist movement. Has this release gone too far? In an effort to correct the past wrongs involving unscriptural submission and the domination of women, some churches have rightly freed women from man’s order. But have they also freed them from God’s order as well? Complementarians, who believe in the historic interpretation of Scripture regarding male only leadership, say that egalitarians, proponents of women in church government, have indeed done so by violating 1 Timothy 2:11-12. The egalitarian response to the complementarians, whom they consider repressive, archaic, and divisive, is often in the form of a question, “If women aren’t allowed in church government, how then can they minister?” 


Many people still assume that there is no vehicle for women to exercise the indwelling Spirit’s ministry and power if  indeed they are not allowed to teach men or assume positions of governmental authority in the church. This is far from the truth in a church that does not limit ministry to one man or to a select few. God intended that local churches would have the gifts of the Spirit freely exercised under the oversight of an eldership in each congregation. In 1 Corinthians 14:26-33 Paul describes meetings where there is freedom for everyone to minister and function in the gifts of the Spirit. Many churches don’t allow this kind of liberty. Instead, often a pastor or a group of men do most, if not all, of the ministering, or else they choreograph how and when others may participate (list of the hymns to sing, selected responsive readings, joint recitation of the Lord’s prayer, assigned scripture readings, etc.). 

What 1 Corinthians 14 describes is a freedom for the Holy Spirit to express the gifts He has deposited in all His people, on His schedule, and in His format. No longer should those who want the freedom to use their gifts freely and on a consistent basis feel that they have to go to seminary and become full time pastors to do so. 

In this environment, women have as much freedom as men to exercise all of their spiritual gifts as long as they don’t teach men or assume governmental authority in the church (see 1 Timothy 2:11-12). They can teach and pastor freely within these restrictions. They can prophesy, encourage, exhort, evangelize, share revelations from God, applications of Scripture to their lives, and how God is working in their lives and families. They can do just about anything short of establishing doctrine or engaging in teaching that gives authoritative, theological direction to the church.  In fact, when women teach and pastor women and children, they are very much within their sphere of ministry. (See Proverbs 1:8, Romans 15:14, and Titus 2:3-5.) 

Freedom of this kind (for anyone), of course, must have the anointing of God and must not just be an opportunity to feed one’s ego. It requires each one to have a submissive heart that is willing, and even eager, to be corrected for errors or for going beyond one’s sphere. It also requires a committed leadership with a vision for much of the ministry in the church to come from the people. A properly functioning leadership is to oversee, not control meetings. The leaders must understand that God has placed gifts and wisdom in all His people, both men and women. Elders should encourage everyone to express all that God has given them. If they do not, the church can miss God, no matter how gifted the leaders may be. 

But what if a woman believes that she has a lengthy message to bring to the whole church? How can she bring it without teaching men or being in the government of the church? For part of the answer to this question, let us look at the difference between teaching and preaching. 


Paul writes in 1 Timothy 2:12 that he does not “permit a woman to teach (Gr.- didasko) or to have authority (Gr.- authenteo) over men.” I believe Paul linked the Greek words didasko and authenteo to convey a limitation on a specific kind of teaching. With this understanding, I conclude that teaching in this verse specifically includes authoritative instruction, such as that involved in establishing doctrine or giving spiritual direction to the church. Instruction of this kind relates to the governmental authority (elders) in the church. 

However, teaching is not the only kind of formal communication. The following verse includes teaching, but adds another form, preaching: 

And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching (Gr.- didasko) and preaching (Gr.- euaggelizo) Jesus as the Christ. (Acts 5:42) 

Is there a difference between the two words and is the difference significant? Compare the following definitions: 

didasko- to teach.
to announce good news, especially the gospel. 

Euaggelizo appears in 54 other New Testament passages. The verses below represent a sampling of the uses of both of these words: 

....with many other exhortations he preached to the people. (Luke 3:18) 

....has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.. (Luke 4:18) 

....preaching peace through Jesus Christ.  (Acts 10:36) 

....preaching the Lord Jesus.  (Acts 11:20) 

....he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection. (Acts 17:18) 

....(Jesus) taught the people in the temple and preached the gospel...  (Luke 20:1) 

....they were astonished at His teaching for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the          scribes.  (Mark 1:22) 

... the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things...  (John 14:26) 

... teaching the word of God among them.  (Acts 18:11) 

....he spoke and taught accurately the things of  the Lord.. (Acts 18:25) 

Some of the differences between preaching and teaching can be seen in these verses. Preaching involves exhorting, testifying, and proclaiming not only the gospel of Jesus and His resurrection, but the person of Jesus Himself! It seems to involve anything related to the “good news.” On the other hand, teaching expresses authority whether brought by the Lord, by men, or directly by the Holy Spirit. Scripture places no limitation on women (that it doesn’t place on men) regarding preaching, evangelizing, or exhorting nor does it limit where or to whom a women may preach.  It also places no limitation on women teaching other women or children.t times there may be a fine line between teaching and preaching, but a submissive heart in a woman to the church leadership is an essential part of her preaching. Is she willing to be corrected if she goes beyond the realm of preaching in the eyes of the elders? This is the kind of heart God is looking for in everyone, including elders. This freedom for women to preach requires conscientious oversight by the elders as do all activities in the church. Elders must be willing to guide or gently correct anyone who goes beyond the intent of Scripture or their call in God. 


If all of this is true and women have so much freedom, why then do people strive to include women in the government of the church?  Part of the answer lies in the conforming influence of the world. In spite of the strong exhortation in 1 John 2:15 to “not love the world or the things of the world,” some churches have succumbed to the love of the world. They have encouraged unscriptural sexual “freedoms” and easy divorces, and made other moral compromises (not that all churches who promote women in eldership necessarily encourage such loose morals). But this leads us to an important question. How do people, who have been convinced to disregard what appears to be the Scriptural order for the church, justify women being part of church government? 

There are four main propositions advanced by egalitarians who want to open the governing of the church to women. They propose that: 

1. The statement in Galatians 3:28 that “there is neither male nor female” has removed all distinctions between men and women, including the defining of who may be in church oversight. 

2. Men and women are created equal. Therefore, women should have the same opportunities as men for all positions n the church. 

3. Passages that restrict women have been mistranslated or misinterpreted to justify male only leadership in the church. 

4. There were women in the New Testament who governed and taught in churches. This pattern should allow women to do so today. 


Some authors who seek to redefine Scriptures that limit a woman’s role in church government begin with Galatians 3:26-28. They claim that this passage eliminates differences between men and women and, therefore, all Scriptures that restrict a woman’s ministry relative to a man’s must have been misinterpreted or mistranslated. 

But, does this passage remove all distinctions between men and women? It obviously has not eliminated their physical or psychological differences, e.g., men are not able to bear children, and men and women still have many different emotional needs. The terms “feminine” and “masculine” continue to have meaning, both in the church and in the world. 

Not only did the New Covenant not alter the physical characteristics and distinctions between men and women, but it also did not do so between Jews and Greeks. In addition, it did not even confront the institution of slavery within the Roman Empire. It did, however, define how believing slaves and masters are to relate to each other (see 1 Corinthians 7:20-21, Ephesians 6:5-9, Colossians 4:1, and 1 Timothy 6:1-2) and how men and women are to relate to each other (see 1 Corinthians 11:1-7, Ephesians 5:21-33, 1 Peter 3:1-7). If  racial, economic, and gender distinctions were not changed by this passage, then what is it addressing? 

The context of Galatians 3:28 should define its meaning. In this verse, the word “for” essentially indicates that “there is neither male nor female” because we are now one in Christ. Oneness among believers is rooted in our shared life through our common bonds with Jesus Christ. Such unity breaks down walls normally associated with gender, nationality, and economic status. But was this oneness intended to remove role distinctions between men and women? Jesus’ unity with the Father, the pattern for ours (John 17:22-23), did not alter the Father’s loving authority nor the Son’s loving and willing submission during Jesus’ life on earth (see John 5:19 and 10:30). The rich miracle of oneness, a major thrust of Galatians 3:28, obviously does not deny the role distinctions between Jesus and the Father during Jesus’ earthly ministry, nor is it reasonable to assume it is supposed to do so in gender roles in the church or in marriage. 

In the passages before verse 28, Paul discusses God’s promises to Abraham and our call to sonship. Immediately after this verse, Paul declares that all who are Christ’s are “Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” It seems clear that our sonship and our inheritance of God’s promises, in addition to oneness, are being addressed by Galatians 3:28. No one receives sonship or God’s promises because he is Jewish, male, and free, but because he is in Christ. These blessings are not based on gender, nationality, or freedom from slavery in the New Covenant; they are based solely on one’s faith response to the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

A careful study of Galatians will reveal that Paul does not address, or even mention, the qualifications for teaching or eldership anywhere in this epistle. To try to apply Galatians 3:28 to the subject of a woman’s place in church government is to read into this passage subject matter that was not on the apostle’s mind. 


Even when the argument for female eldership from Galatians falls apart, there are those who redefine the Biblical concept of gender equality to be the removal of all role distinctions. They maintain that anything that diminishes a person’s role robs them of their “equality.”  After all, aren’t we all created “equal?” I can partially agree with this, but only if we define equality correctly. Before God it has nothing to do with power, prestige, position, or our potential to succeed in society. In fact, God seems to purposely make us unequal in potential as it relates to our physical, intellectual, and aesthetic development. Some are born with less, others with more. In the Kingdom of God, “equality” is about being equally loved, equally forgiven, equally redeemed, equally sanctified by God, and equally righteous in Jesus. God has given us all equal access to His throne of grace. It means that we are all being transformed into His image and that the gifts of the Holy Spirit (distributed “to each one individually as He wills.”) are not given with partiality to sex, race, national origin, or economic status. Every person has an individual call in God’s house. No one is more important than another; all are special. God’s call upon certain men to be the overseers of the church is a part of His order; it is not a call to hierarchy; it is not to make an elite class; it is no more important than any other of God’s summons to serve. Equality is not the subject matter determining who governs in the church; God’s order is.  


The Scriptures that limit church government to men and that appear to restrict women’s participation in meetings are the ones most often attacked by egalitarian writers. They claim, erroneously, that the passages in our many English versions that limit women’s authority in the church have been distorted by incorrect translation of certain Greek words or by misinterpretation of the passages. They especially question 1 Corinthians 14:26-40 and 1 Timothy 2:11-12. For an analysis of this approach and a detailed study of the challenges to the translation of specific Greek words in the disputed passages see Chapter Three of “God’s Divine Order.1” 

A recent radical evangelical proposal called “trajectory hermeneutics” seeks to place women in eldership of churches by appealing to revelations outside of scripture. See reference 2 for a detailed analysis of this approach.   


Women were a very important part of the ministries of Jesus and the apostles. They were essential to the functioning of the early church. Paul revealed the significance of women’s influence in the church when he wrote about Priscilla, Phoebe, and others. He encouraged women, and taught against the practice of demeaning them. He also encouraged future generations to see the vital role women should have in the church. However, in spite of the clarity of the apostolic record, men down through the centuries have practiced discrimination. Their ignorance doesn’t mean that Scriptures need to be retranslated to correct such oppression. We have seen that complete freedom exists for women when God’s word is considered as a whole. Study of Scripture can reveal significant ministries for them without trying to extend their spheres to include church government. 

Proponents of women in eldership often justify their theological position by using examples of the prominent women in the Bible who, they believe, functioned in places of authority in the church. Let us examine some of the examples they offer and consider if their proposal is reasonable (Deborah’s ministry is analyzed in reference 1). 

JUNIA - Romans 16:7 has been used by some to prove there was at least one female apostle. Many commentaries state that Junia(s) could be a man. In fact, of the ten most common Bible translations, only the KJ, NKJ, and NRSV list the person as Junia (feminine). All the rest have Junias (masculine). The NRSV footnotes Junia with, “or Junias; other ancient authorities read Julia.” However, even if Junia were a woman, the verse still doesn’t prove that she was an apostle. In fact, it could very well be speaking of Andronicus and Junia(s) as people of note. This would mean that they were well known to the apostles for significant contributions in support of their ministries, not that they were apostles. If they had been apostles who excelled, it probably would have said that they were “apostles of note,” rather than “of note among the apostles.” 

 PRISCILLA- The extremes to which some authors will go to prove their point is demonstrated by the following quotes: “Priscilla...exercised her teaching gift and ministry freely.” “Aquilla was a ready and zealous patron rather than a teacher. Priscilla had the gift and her husband gave her support,” and  “..Roman women were elevated to full and equal status (with men). We can assume that Priscilla.....continued in the same freedom she had in Pontus.” These statements are an argument from silence. Examining the Scriptures concerning Priscilla (Acts 18:1-5, 18-19, 24-29, Romans 16:3-5, 1 Corinthians 16:19-20, and 2 Timothy 4:19 are the only ones), it is obvious that such conclusions either come from extremely loose assumptions or from extra-biblical sources. 

Some authors claim that Priscilla not only taught, but also discipled Apollos. Note in Acts 18:24-26 that Apollos was, “eloquent ...mighty in the Scriptures...taught accurately the things of God,” except that, “he knew only the baptism of John.” It seems likely that what Aquilla and Priscilla (it could have been mostly Aquilla) shared with Apollos was the truth of baptism into the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. How much more could Aquila and Priscilla give a man who is described by such superlatives relative to his knowledge of the Scriptures and his ability to teach? 

None of these passages imply that Aquilla or Priscilla were teachers or ever taught in a church meeting. In fact the Greek word for teach (didasko) is not used in any verse about Priscilla and Aquila. At the most, their explaining to Apollos “the way of God more accurately” was “teaching” done one-on-one (i.e., a personal sharing of their faith.) This hardly indicates that she exercised authority over men, taught in the church, or helped to establish churches in Corinth, Ephesus, and Rome, as some boldly claim.  

PHOEBE - The following verse is the only passage referring to Phoebe:  

I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant (Gr.- diakonos)  of the church in Cenchrea, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper (Gr.-prostatis) of many and of myself also. (Romans 16:1-2) 

Despite this, some authors claim that she taught men. If she did so, it isn’t revealed in Scripture. From the definitions and the context of the two words servant (diakonos) and helper (prostatis) in the passage, all one can say with certainty is that Paul commended Phoebe for serving and helping. She could have provided housing, arranged for food, been generous financially, ministered to the sick, taught women, or exercised the ministries of helps. She no doubt was a gifted helper who assisted many. Did she do more than this? 

Some have said, “Phoebe was a deacon (diakonos), whom Paul called a ruler or leader (prostatis) of many.” Several passages, such as John 2:5 and Matthew 22:2-3, use diakonos and translate it simply as a normal servant over and against the church function of “deacon.” (Interestingly, diakonos is only translated in the KJV as “deacon” three out of thirty occurrences.) Phoebe may or may not have been a “deacon.” Even if she were, deacons were not called to oversee the church (or required to be apt to teach) as elders were, and therefore, were not part of the church government. (See  “God’s Divine Order1,” Chapter Three, for more on the role of deacons.) 

Was Phoebe a ruler of many? Romans 16:2 is the only usage of the feminine Greek word prostatis in the Bible. It is hard to draw conclusions about her ministry from the verse other than from the definition of prostatis (which includes patroness, benefactor or assistant, which are important functions, but not necessarily a leader). Additionally, if the phrase “helper of many” is translated “leader or ruler of many,” then the phrase “and myself also” that directly follows it creates a problem. Was she also a leader or ruler of Paul? That does not make sense. Helper, though, makes complete sense in the context of one who is a servant of others. 

JEZEBEL- Some writers claim Revelation 2:20-23 (the only New Testament reference to Jezebel and the only New Testament reference to a woman teacher in a church) is a good example of a woman teaching in a church and one who influenced the leaders. Some say that she was accepted as both a prophetess and teacher. That seems true enough. But therein lies the problem. 

There is no question that this woman had no business teaching in the church. She should not even have been allowed to attend the church if she didn’t repent for her sins. After all, the fruit of her teaching was immorality and seduction, and she herself was involved in sexual sins. God told the church that what He had against them was that they “allow that woman Jezebel... to teach and seduce My servants.” Scripture does not endorse her ministry and it clearly says that she should not have been allowed to teach. Her acceptance by and influence on the elders, rather than being an endorsement of women teaching, is an indictment of the leaders. Leaders who allow anyone who is a false prophet and heretical teacher to teach and seduce others should be disqualified from leadership. Using their acceptance of Jezebel as justification for allowing women to teach in church is indefensible. If anything, it is an example of what not to do. But, Jezebel is more than just a bad example for egalitarians. She also raises a very challenging question for them: Would God have chosen a heretical harlot as the only Biblical example of a female teacher if He intended that women should be teachers in churches? 


It seems clear that the reasoning of egalitarians who propose that women should be part of the government of the church is at best unsound. However, is the concept of male only church government unique to the New Testament or is it clearly consistent throughout the Bible? 


As part of His pattern for authority, God consistently reveals Himself in male terms in both the Old and New Covenants. He is our father, not our mother; our king not our queen; our husband not our wife. God incarnate was a man. Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father not, ‘our mother’ who is in heaven.” According to Romans 8:15, our hearts cry is “Abba! Father!”, not “‘Em! Mother! 


The pattern of male leadership that was established in Israel for the priests in the house of God in Exodus 28:1 continued throughout the Old Testament in the priesthood and in the kings. The only exception was Athalia. Athalia destroyed all the royal family of the house of Israel, forcibly took the crown (obviously not God’s chosen method), and reigned as queen for a short time over the land (see 2 Chronicles 22:10-12). She was the only ruler of Judah who was not of the lineage of David. Using her as a pattern for feminine authority is, of course, ludicrous. There were no other queens in Israel and no female priests. In addition, with the exception of Deborah, all judges (a civil position) in Israel were male. (“God’s Divine Order1” explores reasons why God made an exception in Deborah’s case.)  Male leadership in Israel is clearly defined and appears to be the pattern for the New Covenant. Is it as clear in the New Testament as in the Old? 


When Paul describes the order that is applicable to local churches in 1 Corinthians 14:26-40, he ends with, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” God has an order for His church as He had for Israel, a blueprint for both His universal church and its local expressions. In describing the government of the church in 1 Timothy 3:1-13, Paul refers only to men in oversight, just as the Scriptures did for the priests in the Old Testament. That this is part of God’s plan for His house is evidenced in Paul’s directions on how women are to conduct themselves in the house of God in 1 Corinthians 14:33-35 and 1 Timothy 2:11-12. These Scriptures, as translated, clearly state that women are not to be in authority over men. They are also not to teach men from a place of authority. Instead, they are to have a quiet and submissive spirit in the church, especially in things related to authoritative decisions and evaluations. If these passages are true, the church in many assemblies has drifted from His expressions of order by allowing women to govern in the church. 


The Bible is consistent throughout regarding male government in God’s house. There is no credible evidence that the Lord sanctions women to be in the government of a church (any more than in His house in Israel) or that any women in the Bible, including Junia, Priscilla, and Phoebe, were in this position, as some fervently claim. The ministries of women in the Bible, although significant and anointed, were not indicative of people in church eldership. Rather, they represented God’s call for all Christians to be a part of the ministry in and of the church. 

The answers to a two part question raised in the preface of this tract are: Yes, the Bible does accept and encourage women to minister in the church, and that ministry is to be significant. No, their call is not to include the role of church government. 

In “God’s Divine Order1” I quoted a non-evangelical feminist who said that, “Feminist theology must create a new textual base, a new canon ...Feminist theology cannot be done from the existing base of the Christian Bible.” She was right. Allowing women in the government of the church can only be justified if the word of God is significantly altered. 

However, the Scriptures as they stand give women complete freedom to exercise all the gifts God has given them. Elders must insure that they have that freedom. God’s restriction from church government for women is but one part of His redemptive plan to bring His whole church, both men and women, to perfection. When we struggle against His order, we wrestle not against men, but against God Himself. When we submit fully to God’s plan, His life is manifest in our midst and His wisdom made known to the world. 

Reference 1- “God’s Divine Order” by John Whritenor. This book is available from Saugerties Christian Fellowship. 

Reference 2- “ Trajectory Hermeneutics: Valid Theory or Deception” by John Whritenor. This tract is available from Saugerties Christian Fellowship

All quoted scriptures are from the New King James Version. 

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