Tag Archives: #womeninministry


Women in Ministry

Navigating the treacherous concourses of modern Christianity can be difficult in the best of circumstances due to the propensities of the modern desire to re-examine the basis of long-held assumptions concerning morality, theology, and the practical applications of The Faith, which is understood to be normative Christianity.  The contemporary charge toward a culturally relevant expression has opened the doors for a rejection of the historically grounded suppositions concerning faith and the practical configuration of Christianity.  This can be seen in the quest for a supposed historical Jesus, the challenge to the veracity of Scripture, modernity’s critical assessment of the deity of Christ: all these issues are just a small sampling of the attacks that have been leveled against the churches bulwark.  

Responses to this onslaught have been varied, with some theologians ignoring the trends of deconstructionism and reification, while others have risen to the challenge, accepting the newly formed boundaries with a religious zeal that is vaguely reminiscent of the reformations of days by-gone days.  A bevy of responsible apologetics has appeared on the scene to counter the difficult issues at hand with varied measures of success and failure in their attempts to defend the classic expressions of Christianity.  Among the hotly contested themes that have entered the fray of discussion, few have been as contentiously debated as the subject of women’s roles in the annals of ministry as members of the recognized clergy.  

Opinions have swung with a wide girth as some historical denominations have opened the gates to a woman’s right of acknowledgment as worthwhile church servants. This includes the majority of Presbyterians, Lutherans, Methodists, and Episcopalians, while others have drawn a firm line in the sand, refusing to accept a woman’s role in the clergy as ordinates as a valid expression.  

Dr. Frank Schmitt of Liberty University identifies with the view that would restrict women in being recognized as valid members who have the right of ordination, as he emphatically states in: A Practical Introduction to Church Administration: “(A)…question being asked a lot today is concerning the ordination of women.  It is my strongly held conviction that God calls men and women to full-time vocational service, but that only men should be ordained as pastors…and, I do not believe a women should occupy any position that uses the title pastor.”[1]  This understanding of a woman’s restricted access to ministry in a substantive way that embraces the right of ordination seems to utilize a bias which negates the modern movement of the High Churches acceptance of women as fully deputized administrators over the church. By combining the ordination of women into the more problematic aspects of theological deliberations, such as homosexuality as a viable lifestyle within and without the ranks of the clergy, biblical authority, and abortion rights, among the fervently disputed points of dialogue.  

John MacArthur exemplifies this view as he states his position in Rediscovering Pastoral Ministry, by issuing an opinion which reads: “This discussion will assume the biblical teaching that God calls only men as pastors/elders of the church.  Therefore, only men should be candidates for ordination… (As) ordination validates/authenticates God’s will for a fully qualified man to serve God and His people.”[2]

But is this a fair appraisal of the issue?  Is it possible that the church may be a process that is God ordained and directed when the subject of women as being suited for ministry is concerned?  This paper will take the position that women inherently possess the right of ordination along with their male counterparts.  Thisisn’t an attempt to justify deviations from biblical standards.  Challenges to the authority of Scripture need to be addressed and dealt accordingly.  Biblical standards of marriage and human sexuality need to be defined with an ongoing condemnation of homosexuality as an aberration of nature and biblical authority.  But the subject of women and ministry may not be easily dismissed if the theological truths contained in Scripture are properly embraced.

It is in defining the roles of men and women, where the great Apostle Paul liberated women from doctrinal subordination with the proclamation: “There is neither male nor female” (Gal. 2:28).  This simple, yet profound statement, which was set in a qualifying frame of freedom for all humanity that acknowledged equality regardless of race, background, or gender in the eyes of God, formulates the lynchpin concerning a proper understanding of women in ministry.  There has never been a greater opportunity to instill the high value and view of women that Scripture attests to the churches governmental structure as the modern times provide.  

Henry Virkler, author of Hermeneutics: Principles and Practices of Biblical Interpretation and Former Professor of Hermeneutics at Liberty University, adds to this conversation by observing that over the years:  

 “More orthodox interpreters have emphasized the importance of a literal interpretation… interpreting God’s Word the way one interprets normal human communication… others have practiced an allegorical approach… others have looked at individual letters and words as having a secret significance which needed to be deciphered.  A historical overview of these practices will enable us to overcome the temptation to believe that our system of interpretation is the only system that has ever existed… By observing the mistakes of those who have preceded us, we can be more aware of possible dangers when we are similarly tempted.”[3]  

Virkler also makes a significant contribution to the issue at hand in his excellent analysis of the historical, cultural, and contextual analysis of Scripture and their implications to sound, biblical exegesis as he discourages proof-texting as a means of proper biblical analysis.  Rather, he encourages the expositor of Holy Writ to ask a series of secondary questions that can help enlighten the text that is under inspection.  These questions are: “What are the major blocks of material and how do they fit together as a whole?  How does the passage… contribute to the flow of the author’s argument?  Third, what was the perspective of the author?”[4]  An additional query could be inserted in a reasonable fashion which would ask: what did the author say about the subject in other places?  Utilizing these methodologies, along with the other rules of sound hermeneutics, will keep the exegete safely within the confines of proper Scriptural boundaries.

Historically, the church has operated in much the same manner as most cultures. Males have been the dominant alpha force.  Men have brought a male-influenced bias into the conversation of theological speculation and interpretation, with this bias serving as a blinding guide that has shaped the churchesstructure.  This subjugation of women within the churches hierarchical system typically rests upon another oft-quoted passage, penned by Paul that is found in I Timothy 2:11-15, which reads: “Let a woman learn in silence and full submission.  I permit no woman to teach or have authority over a man.  She is to keep silent.  For Adam was formed first, then Eve.  And Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.  Yet she will be saved through child bearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness with modesty.” 

Paul’s address to Timothy has influenced the early Church Fathers and their view of women and ministry.  The following are excerpts from various Fathers:

 Paul did not hesitate to mention his “companion” in one of his epistles. . ..  He says in his epistle, “Do I not have the right to take along a sister or wife, as do the other apostles?”  However, the other apostles, in harmony with their particular ministry, devoted themselves to preaching without any distraction.  Their spouses went with them, not as wives, but as sisters, in order to minister to housewives (Clement).[5]

It is true that Paul instructs women to be silent in the church, but this does not include speaking for the mere sake of learning.  In doing so, he goes to the Law for his authority that women should be under obedience.  When Paul calls for the wearing of a veil for the woman who prophesies, Paul demonstrates that even veiled women have the right of prophesying.[6] “It is not permitted to a woman to speak in the church, nor to teach, baptize, offer, or to claim to herself a lot in any manly function, not to mention the priestly office.”[7]  

Cyprian said that a woman should be silent in the church.  In the first Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians: “Let women be silent in the church.  But if any wish to lean anything, let them ask their husbands at home.”  Also, to Timothy: “Let a woman learn in silence, with all subjection.  But I do not permit a woman to teach, nor to be set over the man, but to be in silence.”[8]

  In the Apostolic Constitutions, we find that “We do not permit our women ‘to teach in the church. Rather, they are only permitted to pray and hear those who teach.  For Jesus Himself, our Master and Lord, when He sent out the twelve to make disciples of the people and of the nations, nowhere sent out women topreach—- even though there was not lack of women available.  For there were with Him the mother of our Lord and His sisters; Mary Magdalene; Mary, the mother of James; Martha and Mary, the sisters of Lazarus; Salome; and certain others….For “the head of the wife is the man,” and it is not reasonable that the rest of the body should govern the head.’[9]

  Constitutions further stipulate that, as to women baptizing, we let you know that there is not small peril to those who undertake it.  Therefore, we do not advise you to do it.  For it is dangerous, or rather wicked and impious. . . . For it in the foregoing constitutions, women have not been permitted to teach, how will anyone allow them . . . to perform the office of a priest?  For such is not one of the institutions of Christ, but is one of the ignorant practices of the Gentile atheism.  For they ordain women priests for the female deities.  After all, if baptism were to be administered by women, certainly our Lord would have been baptized by His mother and not by John.  Or when He sent [the apostles] to baptize, he would have also sent along women for this purpose.[10]

  Nevertheless, I have a few things against you because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and beguile my servants to commit sexual immorality and to eat things sacrificed to idols (Revelation 2:20).

  Irenaeus taught that Handling mixed cups to the women, [Marcus, a heretic,] instructs them to consecrate these cups in his presence. . ..  He devotes himself especially to women, and particularly to those women who are well-bred, elegantly attired, and of great wealth.[11]

  The very women of these heretics, how wanton they are!  For they are bold enough to teach, to dispute, to enact exorcisms, to undertake cures—it may be even to baptize (Tertullian).[12]

  That most monstrous creature [a heretical female teacher], who had  no right to teach even sound doctrine, knew full well how to kill the little fishes [i.e., new believers] (Tertullian).”[13]

As these comments show, there was a distinct bias against women and ministry in the formative years of the church, typically predicated upon the Pauline writings.

At first blush, this passage in I Timothy seems to deal a devastating blow to a biblically based view of women as ordained ministers.  The church has built a historical view of doctrinal boundaries and practical expression based essentially on this one passage, although another key passage of Scripture that is found in the Corinthian letters adds to an understanding of the Apostle’s perspective concerning and ministry.  This additional passage will be addressed at a later point in this treatise.  Advances in the understanding of ancient Greek language appear to be undermining this view, however.  A growing number of scholars are adopting a change concerning the traditional interpretation of the Greek verb auvqentein (authentein), which is the pivotal word that advances the subordination of women in so far as ordination is concerned.

Interpreting this verb is extremely difficult, as this is the singular place in which it appears throughout the entirety of the Scriptural record[14].  This solitary usage restricts an interpreter’s ability to contrast this passage’s use at the time the passage was written against the whole of Scripture.  Additionally, it is extremely dangerous to base an entire theology upon one appearance of any concept in Scripture, let alone one word.  Virkler adds another word to this debate that appears to relevant to the conversation as he addresses the concept of Scriptural analogy.  He suggests: 

“Hypothesis about the pattern of God’s relationship to man is necessary, for they provide an organizational framework around which the biblical data can be understood.  Without some sort of organizing principle, the bulk of data would be too great to comprehend.  However, there are at least two major dangers in accepting a certain system or hypothesis about the nature of divine revelation… ‘They are…’ the danger of imposing one’s own system onto the biblical data rather than deriving the system from the data… and perhaps (an) even greater is that of accepting a theory about the pattern of divine revelation without even recognizing it as a theory, or without looking at other theories to see which theory fits the data best.”[15]  These two dangers could be described as a myopic approach and an extremely myopic view of Scripture.  Caution is the customary note when addressing any subject in Scripture that isn’t validated repeatedly throughout the revelation of God to man.  Milton Terry further elucidates this point in his address of the subject of usus loquendi.  Terry states that it is: “Important in interpretation to collate and compare all that is written.  The obscure or doubtful passages are to be only explained by what is plain and simple… Sometimes the etymology of a word, or the context, or a parallel passage may have more weight than all the versions combined; while in other instances the reverse may be true.”[16]

Terry’s cautionary note is an important one, as the use of translational cross-referencing allows the exegete the ability to view a vast compendium of different minds and the inherent struggle to produce valid Scriptural translations from the original language into their intended target.

Typically, the verb auvqentein (authentein) is translated: ‘to usurp authority’ or ‘to have authority’ over a man.  Research may prove this to be erroneous, however, as it appears that this view violates the context of the passage and the historical context of auvqentein (authentein) during the New Testament era.  The earlier usages of the verb carry the thought of: “one who with his own hand kills either others or himself.”[17] Thayer’s identifies the term as existing as a biblical and ecclesiastical term.  Conversely, Thayer goes on to state that in later Greek the term meant: “One who does a thing himself, the author,” and citing Polybius, circa 122 BC. Thayer further delineates the historical usage as becoming: “One who acts on his own authority, autocratic,” Phrynichus, the grammarian, circa 180 A.D.

This appears to be a word that transformed over a period of roughly 1,100 years.  In the earliest appearances, it ‘s usage in classical literature of the sixth century B.C. typically meant: “to initiate or be responsible for the murder.” By 200-300 A.D., the verb usually meant: “to claim ownership of property,” through fraud. [18] It was during that period that the term took on a dual connotation where it could mean to “usurp power” as well as the ownership of property clause.  Again, Virkler adds to a proper approach to the recorded Word, as he addresses the topic of Sensus Plenior, as he advises that: “Words or phrases may have both popular and technical denotations… connotations (with) implied emotional meanings… a word that has more than one denotation may also have more than connotation.”  This leads to the conclusion that one must: “Study parallel passages to understand the meaning of an obscure word or phrase… Look for additional data in clearer passages… (And) distinguish between verbal parallels and real parallels.”[19]

A problem arises in this discussion when authentein’s use is examined during the New Testament period.  The common use in the classical application is: “to be or to claim to be the author or the originator of something.[20] It is entirely possible that this was the intended meaning of the Apostle Paul as he instructed his neophyte pastor Timothy.  As such, the point of origin would be the prevailing issue, not authority.

Russo undergirds this thesis as he draws attention to the prevailing cultural concerns of the Ephesians believers. William Mounce addresses the cultural concerns in a commentary included in the Word Biblical Commentary series entitled: Pastoral Epistles where he postulates a distinctly troubling period due to the philosopher’s dismissal of the Greek Pantheon and their inability to replace the lost gods with another means of hope.[21]  When the temple of Artemis is included in the cultural milieu, Ephesus was a hotbed for religious sentiments that preyed upon the simplistic ideas of the populace (Acts 19:21-41).  Timothy was pastoring in Ephesus, the site of the Pauline riot over Diana.  Artemis worship must be examined in context to 1 Timothy 2:12 and auvqentein (authentein), as this cult, advanced the idea of feminine superiority over males and propagated the notion of female dominion.  

Furthermore, the cultic tenants held to a doctrine of female procreation.  They believed the goddess could bring offspring into existence without any male interaction.[22] A further difficulty enters the concerns of Ephesus when the Gnostics assessments are introduced into the equation.  There was a strong Jewish Gnostic contingency at Ephesus that espoused a belief in spirit guides, combining the Aramaic teachings with the Old Testament, dating to the 60’s B.C. Pagans and Christians.[23]  The Gnostics had infiltrated the church and Paul instructed Timothy to challenge the pagan inclusion into the practice and theology of the Ephesian church.  Timothy was to sharply reprove those who accepted mythological formulates, genealogies that never end and to harshly rebuke anyone who spoke evil against the God of Holy Writ.  These are important considerations to the discussion of the ordination of women when Paul’s aversion demonic doctrine and mundane dialogue about wife’s tales are considered when a woman’s role is examined within the church.  

Mounce takes Kroegger and Kroegger to task on the translation difficulties of auvqentein (authentein), where they advance the notion that Paul was prohibiting women from teaching error[24] and that a woman was disallowed from asserting herself into a position of authorship over man.[25] The point is well taken.  However, the argument over the scant evidence for interpreting a solitaire word is equally erroneous.  When auvqentein(authentein) is combined with silence h`sucia| (hesukia), the idea of harmonious conformity or agreement with doctrine is entirely possible, as hesudia can mean peace, conformity, agreement, and silence, based upon context.[26] The text implies a position that abdicates turmoil.

Overall, Paul’s lifestyle and practice should also create an imprint on the modern application of women and ministry, as Paul frequently worked with women and married couples throughout his ministry, Priscilla, Phoebe, Junia: all were fellow laborers in the ecclesia.  In fact, Phoebe is sent as a minister of the gospel as a deacon to the church at Rome.[27] Paul frequently labored alongside women, commissioned, and sent women to administrate in a church, and he broke with his traditional rabbinic view by insisting that women be permitted to lean the Word alongside men.  Bernard Ramm grants insight into the power of observation, as he challenges the interpreter of Scripture to carefully follow the basic rule that allows Scripture to interpret Scripture in Protestant Biblical Interpretation. He succinctly states that: “Obscure passages of Scripture must give way to clear passages.”  He further delineates that: “There is no question that there are passages in Holy Scripture that are obscure for the modern man who may have been clear to the authors of the passages.”[28]  The passage in I Timothy is one of these passages.

The following is an insertion from the website of the International Church of the Foursquare[29], taken from their positional statement on women in ministry.  The Foursquare denomination has ordained women from their inception in the early 20th Century.  This has given them a profound ability to address the pertinent issues of a woman’s unique ability to contribute to the Corpus Christi.

1) Biblical Position on:

Women Prophets

  • Miriam (Exodus 15:20, 21; Numbers 12:1-15; 20:1; 26:59; Deuteronomy 24:9) “I brought you up from the land of Egypt, I redeemed you from the house of bondage… and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam” (Micah 6:4).
  • Huldah (II Kings 22:14-20II Chronicles 34:22-33)
  • The wife of Isaiah (Isaiah 8:3)
  • Anna (Luke 2:36)
  • The four daughters of Philip (Acts 21:9)
  • Early church women (1 Corinthians 11:5)

Judges/Military Leaders

  • Deborah (Judges 4-5)


  • Abigail (1 Samuel 25:1-42; 2 Samuel 2:2)
  • Esther, the queen
  • Phoebe, deacon, and minister of the Gospel (Romans 16:1-2)
  • Junia, an apostle (Romans 16:7)
  • Priscilla, early church teacher (Acts 18:2, 24-26; Romans 16:3; 1 Corinthians 16:19)
  • Euodia and Syntyche, preachers, and co-workers with Paul (Philippians 4:2-3)
  • Unnamed intercessors and prophetic women (1 Corinthians 11:2-16)
  • Nympha, pastor (Colossians 4:15)

2) The Ministry of Jesus

The words “subordinate” and “inferior” are good words describing the cultural status of women during the time of Jesus. Through teaching and actions, Jesus affirmed the worth of women. Women were to be included with men in service to God.

Note these examples of Jesus relating to women:

  • The woman at the well (John 4:4-42)
  • Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42)
  • Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9)
  • The widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-17)
  • The woman with the issue of blood (Mark 5:25-45)
  • Peter’s mother-in-law (Luke 4:38-39)
  • Jesus’ teaching about “one flesh” (Matthew 19:3-9)
  • Mary anointed Jesus’ head (John 12:1-8).
  • Jesus’ feet were anointed by a sinful woman (Luke 7:36-50).
  • Women were followers of Jesus and ministered to Him (Luke 8:1-3).
  • Women stood at the foot of the Cross and remained there until His body was taken down (Mark 15:40-41, 47).
  • Women were first at the tomb on resurrection morning, for they had come to anoint His body for burial (Mark 16:1-3).
  • Women were first to give the message that Jesus is raised from the dead (Matthew 28:7-11)

3) Ministry of Women in the Early Church

The early Church included both men and women in membership and leadership ministry. There were women at the first early Church meeting (Acts 1:14-15) – most likely the women noted in:

  • Luke 8:1-3; 23:49,55; 24:10 – where they waited for the promise of the Holy Spirit.
  • Acts 2:11 – There were women present at the Spirit’s outpouring.
  • Acts 2:17 – There is the prophecy about “daughters prophesying.”
  • Acts 9:36-41 – Tabitha (Dorcas), a devoted disciple, was raised from the dead.
  • Acts 16:15; 18:1-3; 21:8-9; Philemon 22 – Hospitable women opened their homes to missionaries and as centers of outreaches.
  • Acts 16:15, 40 – There were churches in women’s homes.

A text which gives validity to women in ministry is Joel 2:28, quoted in Acts 2:16-18, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.” 

The additional teachings of Scripture need to be weighed in this matter as well.  Bernard Ramm leads the interpreter of Scripture to a very significant point when he states that conceptual cross-referencing is a valid aspect to consider in interpreting Scripture.  Ramm defines this topic to mean that when: “There is a verse or passage in one book of Holy Scripture that has the identical substance or content of another part of Scripture even though there is no use of common words.  The concepts in the passage are identical rather than just the words being the same.”[30]   

The following are passages that are valid contributors to the task of understanding women’s roles throughoutthe Scriptural record.  In the beginning, God created man and woman equal, and both bore the clear, divine image.  

 KJV Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.[31]

This passage also stipulates the command as to how they were admonished to extend dominion.  Exodus 38:8 and I Samuel 2:1-10 indicate that women had participatory roles within the ritual practices of Israel.  Women also served as leaders politically, thereby lending a strong consideration for a woman’s role in ministry.  Deborah served as a prophetess and a judge.  God used Hilda and Miriam as prophetesses (Ex. 15:20, 21; II Kings 22: 14-20, Judges 4-5).  Although these passages do not constitute a primary basis for legitimatizing a woman’s role in ministry, they do create a fertile climate for precedence to be entertained. 

Any New Testament perusal should easily bring to view the counterpoint that Christianity created, to contrary to the dominant views that prevailed in most ancient societies.  In Biblical times, women were typically excluded from fields of education and public life.  They were viewed as focal points of temptation and were expected to live a quiet life at home raising children.  Women did not count in the numerical requirements for the formation of a synagogue, and their testimony was invalid in courts of law.

Jesus established an antithetical stance that ran contrary to His Jewish upbringing.  The Christ spoke to women openly (John 4) and had an entourage that was composed of men and women (Mk. 15: 40, 41; Lk. 8:1-3).  Additionally, women helped in the financial matters of His mission.  Jesus instructed Mary and then defended His right to instruct her (Lk. 10:38-42), thus qualifying women as disciples.  Women disciples were among the finalists at Golgotha, and they were the initial witnesses of the Resurrection of that fateful first day.  The first disciples Jesus appeared before following the Resurrection were women (Matt. 28:7).

This activity did not cease following the Ascension. Acts include many references to women being present during the foundational period and actively assisting in the church’s formation.  Women’s influence extended from the upper room (Acts 1:14) to Pauline persecution (Acts 8:3) and the gentile reception of the Gospel by Greeks (Acts 17:12).  Joel’s prophecy in chapter 2:28-32 and Peter’s usage of it as a validating Word for the churches initial activities includes a proscription for women: “they shall prophesy,” along with the sons of faith.  Observe the force of the passage:

KJV Joel 2:28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: 29And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. 30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. 32 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.[32]

The Philippian church owed its inception to women. Philips four daughters (Acts 21:9) signify the ongoing ministry expressions by the Spirit through women as the first generation of Christians were winding down. Women’s freedom to express ministry is amplified, not stilled within the Pauline texts.  Racial, sexual, and social barriers were understood to be extant by Paul.  Believers are one in Christ: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ JesusGalatians 3:28.

 This passage is important as it identifies the believer’s unequivocal standing before God.  This oneness extends itself into all present contexts, whether in the first century or the 21st century, as oneness was the underlying principle that caused Paul to sternly rebuke Peter in Galatians 2.

As previously mentioned, Pauline Literature is rife with feminine inclusions into the ranks of church service. It is unfortunate that Paul didn’t articulate the nature of the women’s exact service, but that isn’t necessarily a disqualifier, as job descriptions do not exist for their male counterparts either.  Scripture tells us that offices exist with telling the reader how the office functioned.  This is the basis for the modern argument over elders, prophets, apostles, etc.

Service is the heart of Paul’s view of women Romans 16 lists ten women who served the church in varying capacities.  The probable deliverer of the letter to the church at Rome was the Phoebe above who helped in the ministry of Paul.  Paul identifies Pricilla as a co-laborer in Romans 16:3. Following cultural protocol, Paul addressed the head of the church[33] at the home of Priscilla and her husband, Aquila.  Both saints assisted in indoctrinating one of the leading candidates for authorship of the Book of Hebrews: Apollos (Acts 18:26).  Romans 16:7 likely refer to a feminine Apostle by the name Junia, KJV Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.[34]

The common translation of Junias is dubious, when it makes Junia a historical victim of male bias, as there are virtually no masculine attestations for this name,[35]  as Dunn points out that numerous translationsleap associating Junias as a contraction of Junianus.  Dunn states: “But the simple fact is that the masculine form has been found nowhere else and the name is taken as Iounian = Junia,” Dunn further stipulates that there are over 250 instances where the feminine Junia appears in literary writings, whereas there are not examples of Junias.  Paul, in another instance, (Phil 4:2, 3), draws two additional women into the floodlight of history, as he holds up Eurodia and Syntyche as co-laborers in the Lord’s work. 

Another important passage that should be addressed is 1 Cor. 11:5, which is a critical mass portion of Scripture when women’s roles in ministry are considered.  Paul informs all inquirers of Scriptural truth that women prayed and prophesied in the church at Corinth with his blessing.  His concern was in decorum and apparel, which contributes to any interpretation of 1 Corinthians 14:34-36.  Either Paul gave contradictory injunctions for women, who could be viewed as antithetical concerning the allowance for prayer and prophesying and the demand for silence, which would lead to an acceptance of contradictory commands which would be tantamount to error, or there must be another way of viewing these passages.  Ramm makes a deliberate appeal in the arena of inerrancy as he cries: “Belief in the inerrancy of Scripture leads us to affirm there are no contradictions in the Bible.”[36]

In context, I Corinthians 14:26-36 focuses upon the disruptions of meetings, not the deliberate sequestering of women as capable contributors to the Body of Christ in a ministerial format.  The congregation at Corinth was encouraged to bring something to service that would minister corporately.  In that context, multiple facets of the congregation were told to be silent, not just women.  Messengers of a glossolalia variety were silenced if an interpreter were absent (1 Corinthians 14:28).  When one prophet was prophesying and another received divine insight, the second one was to wait until the first prophet finished expressing his ministry rather than interrupting them as they spoke (1 Corinthians 14:30).  

Women were to be submitted properly along with the prophetic contingency for the services to express the godly characteristic of peace (1 Corinthians 14:32, 33).  The true issue at hand is disruptive behavior, which included women, but was not exclusive to them.  The New Testament’s freeing of the cultural shackles was profound and not without occasional problems, but this should not taint understanding of inclusion.  Yes, this passage along with 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 exhibit the growing pains of the fledgling church.  Women needed to receive instruction about proper decorum in service and to refrain from violating the marital accord found in Ephesians 5:22. Applying Scriptural mandates for marriage to the topic or ordination and service in the church is dubious at best.  

C. S. Keener attests to bewildering interpretations of the Timothy and Corinthian passages.  He addresses the difficulties in approaching the Corinthian passage and the common views that surround it.  Keener points out two of the main approaches as he is pointing out the belief that the church may have been divided into a male/female configuration for seating purposes, or that Paul may have been addressing the topic of directed questions during the formal message that would have been presented. Keener does state,however, that: “Whatever reconstruction one accepts… Paul plainly does not enjoin total silence on women, and… there is nothing in the context to support the view that Paul refers here to women teaching the bible. There is only passage in the entire Bible that could be directly adduced in favor of women remaining silent in the church is 1 Timothy 2:11-14, Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”[37]

Returning to I Timothy it should be further noted that the dispute isn’t about women teaching men.  Paul doesn’t use the common Greek word for man that is normally used in the New Testament, Anthropos.  Rather, Paul uses the lesser term that has specific connotations based on usage and form.  The root word, anair, translates as husband when it typically appears as a noun, which is the case in the 1 Timothy passage, as Freiberg identifies it as a noun, genitive, masculine and singular.  It is entirely plausible to view the issue of authority as a marital condition, not positional expressions about leadership issued.

When a prohibition occurs in Scripture that is gender specific, it is more than appropriate to ask why the prohibition exists.  The question of conditional restriction needs to be explored for fidelity to be maintained as Scripture is handled properly.  Was the prohibiting conditional or universal in its application?  The former interpretation appears to be the more judicious approach, as this would create a harmony between this teaching of Scripture and other texts such as 1 Corinthians 11:5 and 14:34.  Failure to do so violates the principle of harmony and the principle of allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture whenever possible.  For those who espouse the integrity of the Scriptural record as a unified revelation, this is the path that must be traversed.

Paul isn’t secluding women from speaking to or teaching men for that matter.  It has already been pointed out that women prophesied. This meant that they preached according to the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. The verb profhteuwn (propheteuo) means: “To proclaim a divinely imparted message; 1 Corinthians 14:4-5; to foretell (Mark 7:6, Luke 1:67); to bring to light something that is hidden (Mark 14:65); to teach, admonish or comfort (1 Corinthians 14: 3, 31);”[38] among other variables concerning the verbs usage.  Prophecy has long been understood to have a didactical component to it in so far as Scripture is concerned.  This is particularly true in 1 Corinthians 14:4-5, where the imperative to earnestly desire the greater gifts, remains virtually intact: “But the object is no longer, ‘the greater charismata,’ but ta pneumatika,which probably means something like ‘utterances inspired by the Spirit.’”[39]  This transitional clause grants an understanding that easily encompasses teaching as the proper outlook of the verb profhteu,wn (propheteuo). Rather than excluding women from the congregational leadership in addressing the congregants, Paul restricts women in the church from exerting an authoritarian influence over their husbands.  This understanding fits the context and agrees with the greater testimony of Scripture, as this same Apostle would instruct women and men in marriage and submission in Ephesians 5.

It is nonsensical to think that praying and prophesying, which utilize vocalization, would be permitted, yet women still being told to keep silent and not speak over/to men. On the other hand, it is quiet plausible that Paul is addressing the fallen capacity of women to grab at the authority God granted husbands over wives after the fall.  In this light, it behooves the examiner of the Christian faith to realize that this authority fits into the frame that Jesus exercises authority over His body with the express intent of releasing promise and potential, fulfilling divinely inspired promises and moving His constituency into their fullest form of developmental splendor.  This is redemptive authority at its best: bringing a loved bride into her maximum potential and blessing.

The Pauline marital restrictions blend with the Ephesian cultural assumptions. Of the 242 verses that deal with combating heresy and false teaching, the myths and genealogies, Gnostic allusions and ascetic aberrations along with the cultic affixation to Diana, it would have been prudent to insure that women were properly instructed before teaching in the congregation.  Again, this fits the context of I Timothy when the realization of women’s roles in falling victim to the false teachers is taken into consideration (1 Timothy 5:13-15).  Paul attests to the reality that the heretic’s greatest successes were among the women.

In this light, 1 Timothy 2 needs to be understood in the context of false teaching and not exclusive female prohibitions.  This follows Paul’s pattern in 1 Corinthians 11.  Women should learn quietly, following Me. 1 Timothy 2:2’s use of esukia: silence or tranquil.  The previous lack of educational opportunities coupleswith the inability to be full participants in society would have allowed for women to become victims of false teachers more easily than their male counterparts.  Rather than restricting women from becoming vibrant participants in the church’s leadership structure, Paul is advising Timothy about how he is to protect those he has been entrusted to pastor over.

As we move into modern times, the church of the 21st century is well positioned in the matter of female ordination.  Concepts of equality and basic human rights are being inserted into the world of women.  It would do the church well to open the floodgate of leadership, embracing women into the ordained clergy.  As a practical matter of submission and legal authority, ordaining women along with other key associates is a sensible proposition.  By recognizing ordination as a positional function, churches can better justify the legal protections they are afforded in handling staff matters that may surface if they are recognized clergy, with all rights and privileges being afforded to them.


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[1] Schmitt, Frank, A Practical Introduction to Church Administration, Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, Lynchburg VA, 1991, P. 22, 28

[2] MacArthur, John, Rediscovering Pastoral Ministry, W Publishing Group, Nashville TN, 1995, p.136

[3] Virkler p.48

[4] ____ ibid, Virkler, p. 48

[5] _____ ibid, Clement, pp. 390-91

[6] ____ ibid, Tertullian, Vol. 3, p. 446

[7] ____ ibid, Vol. 4, p. 46

[8] ____ ibid, Cyprian, Vol., p.546

[9]____ ibid, Apostolic Constitutions, Vol. 7, pp. 427, 428

[10]____ ibid, Constitutions), Vol. 7, p. 429.  

[11] ____ ibid, Irenaeus, Vol. 1, p. 334

[12]_____ ibid, Tertullian, Vol. 3, p. 263

[13]_____ ibid, Tertullian, Vol. 3, p. 669

[14] Kostenberger, Andreas & Raymond Bouchoc, The Book Study Concordance of the Greek New Testament, Broadman & Holman, Nashville TN, 2003, p. 1176 

[15] ___ ibid, Virkler, pp. 118, 119

[16] Terry, pp. 186, 190

[17] Thayer’s Lexicon, p. 84:31  

[18] I Suffer Not a Woman, Richard & Catherine Clark Kroegger, Baker Books Grand Rapids, MI, 1998: Don Rouso, unpublished article.

[19] ____ ibid, Virkler, pp. 25-27, 99, 109

[20] ____ ibid, Kroegger/Ruso, p.4)

[21] Word Biblical Commentary: Pastoral Epistles, p.7

[22] Zond. Pict. Encyc. Vol. 9; article on: Artemis, E.M. Blaiklock author, p. 341  

[23] Fox, Robin Lane, Pagans and Christians, Knopf, Inc. NY, 1989, p.74

[24] ____ibid, Mounce, p. 124

[25] ____ibid, Mounce, p. 129

[26] Danker/Bauer Greek-English Lexicon, p. 440-441  

[27] Romans 16:1, Interlinear NASB-NIV, Alfred Marshall, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 1993  

[28] Ramm, p. 104

[29] http://www.foursquare.org subheading entitled: Women & Ministry, accessed: 6/27/2004.

[30] ____ ibid, Ramm, p. 141

[31] BibleWorks

[32] ____ ibid, Bible Works

[33] Bruce, F.F., Paul, Apostle of the Heart Set Free, p. 388

[34] ____ ibid, BibleWorks 

[35] James Dunn, Word Commentary 38B, p. 894

[36] ____ ibid, Ramm, p. 205

[37] Dict of Paul, Article on: Man & Woman, C.S. Keener, author, p. 590

[38] Kittel Gerhard & Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Abridged, Translated by Geoffrey Bromiley, Eerdman’s Publishing, Grand Rapids MI, 1985, p. 960

[39] Fee, Gordon, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, Eerdman’s Publishing, Grand Rapids MI, 1987 p. 654