Name: Greyson M. Gambrell
Women in Ministry
In a world today of women’s rights and with women being in the role of men in work and other activities, the issue of women in authority roles in the church is a touchy issue. One issue is whether or not social changes are to be considered when dealing with scripture. At issue is how literal a person should take the scriptures. Jesus is quoted saying that not a jot or tittle will pass from the law till all be fulfilled (see Mat 5:18). This is the importance of each letter of the word of God. Paul demonstrates this scrutiny of the word with the difference between seed and seeds (see Gal 3:16). If such detail is important, then it is hard to debate the immutability of God’s word, and its detail to be trusted.
Paul in his letter to the Corinthians explicitly says women should be silent in the churches. It is shameful for a woman to speak in church. In anticipation of backlash, he asks women “was it from you that the word of God came” (see 1 Cor 14)? Also he asks “or are you the only ones it has reached (see 1 Cor 14)? The word of God came by men and reached men and women. Many make the excuse that women are the principle members of church because of men being slack about their roles. Paul anticipates this issue now because it was an issue in his day. He anticipated women being contrary to this command because like Solomon says, “there is nothing new under the sun” (see Ecc). Women had similar mindsets to today despite many years difference. Paul even more importantly points out this is a command of the Lord and not just his opinion (see 1 Cor 14). Does a command of the Lord become out of date? The answer is no. This is not a subject of Old and New Testament as the passage in question occurs in the New Testament revelation. It is not an issue of legalism because the Lord of the New Covenant is the Lord and His command through Paul is certainly to be obeyed in the New Testament era.
Paul also comments he does not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, rather to remain quiet (1 Tim 2:11). His reasoning applies to all women, because he cites Eve as an example. His reason is not male chauvinist, his reason is the Eve was deceived, and his logic is that all women like Eve are susceptible to be deceived. This is not to say a man cannot be deceived, but rather that Eve’s case is so much that she should not teach or have authority over man.
Now the positions a woman can hold are those that hold authority over a man or teach. The word “or” means that a woman can neither teach nor can she have authority over a man. The positions of appointed in the word are apostles, prophets, teachers, then miracles, gifts of healing, helping, administration, and various kinds of tongues (1 Cor 12:28). Also in the church government there are overseers, elders, and deacons (see 1 Tim 3). If these offices have authority over men a woman is prohibited to hold that office. Or if the office is teaching she is prohibited from teaching. This excludes them from apostle, prophet, teacher, overseer, also called shepherds, elders, deacons. Elsewhere elders and deacons are said to be husband of one wife (1 Tim 3:8-12, and Tit 1:5). This is for the office of deacon, not to be confused with the fact that all Christians are servants. The Greek word for deacon is the same as servant.
There is the question of prophetesses in scripture. Anna was a prophetess (see Luke 2:36) as well as Deborah a judge of Israel and a prophetess. The instruction holds that these women are not to be in authority over man in the church. The way they can be prophetesses like those described and the ones in Acts 2 and Acts 21 has to do with the nature of a prophet. God speaks his word directly through a prophet. All men are subject to God. In the case of a prophetess, all men are subject to what she speaks as God speaks through her, but not to her.
Women may have all other positions in the body of Christ, just not those exercising authority over men or those that are teaching.