The Role and Authority Women Have in Ministry
LIBERTY BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY The Role and Authority Women Have in Ministry A Research Paper Submitted to Dr. Michael D. Stallard in partial fulfillment of the requirements for completion of the course, THEO 592 SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY II 201220 Spring 2012 THEO 530-B19 LUO By John Theodore Zachariah Student ID# 20004547 Lynchburg, Virginia March 2012 TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction ….. ………………………………………………………. ………………………. 1 Prominent Women in the New Testament …………………… ………………………………. 2 New Testament Teachings ……………………………………………………………………. First Corinthians 14:34-35 ……………………………………………………………………5 First Timothy 2:11-12 …………………………………………………………………………. 7 Conclusion ……………………………………………………………………………………. 11 Bibliography ………………………………………………………………………………. …13 Copyright © 2012 by John Theodore Zachariah All rights reserved Introduction Women have long played an important role in the shaping the nation of Israel which has shaped the Christian church of today. Not only were they daughters, wives, concubines, mothers, and grandmothers of men but they were also special agents of the Lord.
It was the Hebrew midwives Shiphrah and Puah who refused the Pharaoh’s order to kill all males that preserved the life of Moses. (Exodus 1) It was the widow of Zerephath who offered food and lodging to Elijah. (1 Kings) There have been women who prophesied and served as spokeswomen for God such as Miriam (Exodus 15) and Huldah. (2 Kings 22; 2 Chron. 24) There were women such as Deborah who served as both a prophet and a judge doling out justice from under a palm tree for the people of Ephraim during the rule of Jabin. Judges 4) Women such as these received the call of God to serve Him in the roles he directed, roles which were typically filled by men. When Jesus of Nazareth assumed his ministry he brought to the nation of Israel a new and unique way of doing things. Sent into the world to serve all of mankind Jesus called forth both men and women alike to serve him and the Lord God our Creator. The roles in which women today serve in the ministry of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior are as limitless as God’s love itself.
But a woman’s participation in these roles has been constrained by the church’s understanding of these roles. God fashioned man and woman in His image to be equal partners in exercising His dominion over the beasts of the field, the birds of the air and the fish in the seas. What we see today is that dominion has been replaced by domination. Not only is it humans over all the beasts and the birds and the fish but it is also male over female, this race over that, and rich over poor.
When we as fellow believers in Christ seek to perceive what roles God has for our lives we must also take into account the creation story and the stories told of some of history’s most amazing women. Can we deny the fact that it is God’s intent that men and women should be co-laborers doing His work here on earth? Should we deny God’s will when He empowers women to serve in roles that have traditionally belonged to men? Is it our intent therefore to call God’s judgment into question? The purpose of this paper is to argue for the ordination of women in the church.
Prominent Women in the New Testament The New Testament records various women who ministered in the early Church Age. They include Tabitha, also known as Dorcas, who was called a disciple and entered into a ministry of helps (Acts 9:36) It was known that Phillip the evangelist had four virgin daughters who were prophetesses. (Acts 21:8f) And it was Paul who in his ministry to spread the gospel labored with Euodias and Syntyche. (Phil. 4:2f) Paul acknowledges Priscilla as a servant of Jesus Christ as he greets numerous others ministering in the name of the Lord, many of them women.
In Romans 16:3 Paul says “Greet Priscilla and Aquilla my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. ” An item of note here is the listing of the names Priscilla and Aquilla. Whenever names are listed in the New Testament the one most prominent is identified first. In this verse Paul identifies Priscilla as the leader of this husband and wife ministerial team. In Acts 18:26 Luke also mentions Priscilla first therefore indicating she possesses the more prominent role. Paul commends Phoebe, the prostaisis or patron of the church in Cenchrea, to the church at Rome. Romans 16) Many view Phoebe as only a “servant” or “helper” but Paul also refers to her as diakonia which is normally translated as deacon or minister. Paul often used the term diakonia when he referring to the minister or leader of a congregation as he did also when speaking of Tychicus, Epaphras, and Timothy. The appearance of both these terms in describing Phoebe presents a picture of one who not only serves the church by giving financial support but also one who does acts of compassion.
These tasks are fundamental to the jobs most leaders in today’s churches do. Paul marks Phoebe “as a leader in the church at Cenchrea because of her status and labor in behalf of the community. ” The Apostle’s words clearly make this obvious that her significance in the church cannot be assumed as merely a consequence of her wealth. Taken together prostaisis and diakonia signal Phoebe as an extremely important figure for Paul and the church at Cenchrea. Other names in Romans 16 refer to women who are also ministering the ospel. They include Mary in verse 6, Tryphena, Tryphosa, and Persida in verse 12. What can safely be concluded is that Paul views women as active participants in the gospel ministry, people who extend his work in a manner equivalent to what we see Timothy and Titus doing elsewhere in his communications with other churches (e. g. 1 Cor. 4:17). Of the remaining men contained in his greetings, only Urbanus is commended as a fellow worker. In Romans 16:7 Paul also identifies Junia as being an apostle of noteworthy recognition.
There are many scholars and translators who are unwilling to admit that women have played an important role in the ministry of Jesus Christ and therefore have masculinized the name into Junias even though the name Junias or Junianus appears nowhere in the Roman list of men’s names. It is from the very pen of Paul himself that we see just how strong an advocate of women’s ministry he truly was. John Chrysostom, the Archbishop of Constantinople, once wrote this of Junia, “Who are of note among the Apostles. And indeed to be apostles at all is a great thing. But to be even amongst those of note, just consider what a great encomium this is!
But they were of note owing to their works, to their achievements. Oh! How great is the devotion of this woman that she should even be counted worthy of the appellation of apostle! ” It is likely that Andronicus and Junia were husband and wife who were both witnesses to Jesus resurrection and who were both sent out to bear witness and proclaim the gospel (cf. 1 Cor. 15:5-9). The house of Cloe is also mentioned by Paul in 1 Cor. 1:11. This is most likely referring to those early Christians meeting in the home of Cloe and not in direct reference to her family or servants.
Historical writings suggest that when Scripture refers to a particular woman “and the church meets in her house,” these women were not merely hosting the meeting but rather had a prominent position of leadership within the group. Given the status of Jewish women during the first century the number of women Paul pays homage to is quite remarkable. It is clear from the Scriptures that both he and the Apostle John greatly appreciated the women who joined them in sharing the gospel. These women were not simply the church hostesses or the secretaries but rather they were hard-working embers of the church, many with positions of leadership and responsibility. New Testament Teachings First-century Jewish society was very much male dominated. Women were treated much like many of the children of this era, submissive to the male head of the house. For a woman to undertake a religious leadership role in a totally male dominated society would have scandalous and an outrage to the fidelity of worship. Not only were women prohibited from assuming any position that would suggest a dominant position over a man they were instructed to dress modestly (1 Tim. 2:9f) and never shear their hair (1 Cor. 11:5).
Both men and women were encouraged to conform to the appropriate head covering for their gender (1 Cor. 4-7). Moreover, first-century women were not formally educated in the Scriptures as were the men. Instead women were generally confined to more domestic duties such as keeping the house and raising the children. The subject of women in ministry has for quite some time caused much controversy and has been the topic of many a discussion. There are certain Scriptures, several within the Pauline letters which on the surface exclude women from participating in certain positions and roles within the church structure.
These “Pastoral” lettersto the churches have been taken to be authoritative, especially when they lay down rules for a “normative” relationship within the church hierarchy. Controversy concerning the appropriate role for women in ministry hinges primarily on three New Testament passages, 1 Corinthians 14:33-35, where women are commanded to be silent in church and 1 Timothy 2:11f, where women are not permitted to teach or have authority over a man. Each of these passages will be examined in the light of the whole Scripture to provide an acceptable and sound interpretation.
First Corinthians 14:34-35 The first Scripture to be discussed, 1 Cor. 14:34f is one worthy of discussion for it commands that women be silent while they are in church. 34 Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. 35 And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church. This particular Scripture, Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth, has much to do with order within the church, most particular in regard to church gatherings.
In chapter 7 Paul addresses the issue of marriage, in chapter 8 he speaks to meat offered to idols, in chapter 9 he lectures concerning support for the ministry, in chapter 11 he tackles the issue of appropriate attire for both men and women during public meetings, in chapters 12 through 14 he deals with this issue of spiritual gifts, but at the close of chapter 14 he speaks about chatty wives who constantly create disorder during church meetings when they shout out their inquiries to their husbands.
Earlier in his letter (chapter 11) Paul speaks about both men and women praying and prophesying during church meetings, therefore it would seem rather self-contradictory that he would now demand that all women should be silent. Accordingly, if the males mentioned in 14:35 are “husbands at home,” then it would only make sense that the “women” mentioned in 14:34 are the “wives” and not just women.
Thus, Paul’s command in verses 34f is not a general silencing of women but rather he is directing the wives who have questions to remain silent during the public meeting and to wait until later when they can ask their questions of their husbands in the privacy of their home. This would also be fully reflective of a situation in which the husband was participating in the prophetic ministries of a Christian meeting and in this context the co-participation of his wife, which may involve her publicly “testing” her husband’s message, would be considered to be a disgraceful disregard of him and her own wifely role.
There are some such as William O. Walker Jr. that believe there is ideational evidence to suggest that 14:34f is non-Pauline as it appears to contradict Paul’s avowed egalitarianism articulated in Galatians 3:27f. Apart from this passage and perhaps 1 Cor. 11:3-16, which is also highly regarded as non-Pauline, there is nothing in the undisputed Pauline letters that suggests that the activity of women in the church was regarded as a problem by Paul or even during Paul’s lifetime. First Timothy 2:11-12
The first-century church meetings most likely permitted more congressional interaction than what is seen in church worship services of today. There were probably several learned speakers who arose to teach, encourage one another, and prophesy. As we have seen in Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth women there rudely interrupted the speakers causing Paul to confront this unseemly insubordination. In 1 Timothy 2:11f we hear how Paul suggests that women of Ephesus learn their Scripture lessons: 11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 2 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. In his letter to Timothy Paul contends that women of Ephesus were not only to dress tastefully and modestly (1 Tim. 2:9f) – that is, different from the pagan women – but they were also to “learn in silence. ” Paul presents not only a radical new idea for the first-century Christian women to learn but he also describes the manner in which they are to learn – in silence. Despite the negative connotations that one may imagine, in the first century “silence” was a positive attribute.
It did not necessarily impose “not speaking” as Paul intends in other Pastoral writings (cf. 1 Tim 2:2; 2 Thess. 3:12; 1 Cor. 14:34). But rather it implies respect or lack of disagreement (as in Acts 11:18; 21:14). A more proper understanding of the Greek work hJsucia or hesuchia used in this instance would be “stillness” or “to desist from bustle or language. ” The word used here in this example is depicted to mean that women, and quite possibly men as well, should learn in quietness, without dissension or conflict. Rabbis and early church fathers deemed quietness appropriate for rabbinical students, wise persons, and even leaders.
This attitude of silence or quietness as it were would be quite appropriate for such tense situations exhibited by the Church of Ephesus at the time. Angry students forced to learn in silence learn very little. But an atmosphere of “quietness” encourages study and fosters understanding. With regard this particular text John Chrysostom writes, “He was speaking of quietness…” It is here that we note that the Apostle Paul did not instruct the women to be in submission to neither their husbands nor to the male leadership of the church. But rather Paul suggests that the women assume an attitude of receptivity.
Most likely the reason Paul suggests this posture is because the women of Ephesus had been learning ungodly worldly and material issues in submission to the teachings of false prophets (cf. 2 Tim. 3:6). Instead Paul would have these women surrender themselves to more orthodox instruction and to the authority of the true church teachers. Paul did not specifically indicate to whom the women were to submit themselves but conventional wisdom suggests that it would at least include the leaders of the congregation, those who were responsible for giving instructions in doctrine.
In this particular instance Paul would have women educating themselves in quiet and submissiveness, not asserting themselves nor their opinions thereby yielding to those with greater understanding and knowledge. It is important to note what Paul does not do with his word choice here in 2:11. Even though the erring women at Ephesus were a serious problem it was not as serious as the rebellious men, empty talkers, and deceivers Paul speaks of to his disciple in Titus 1:10. In that instance Paul uses a much stronger word, epistomizo meaning to “stop the mouth” or “silence. Simply put, the women at Ephesus were not rebellious deceivers with evil intentions they were merely poorly educated in the spirit of Christianity and were in much need of being taught sound doctrine. First Timothy 2:12 stands in stark contrast to what we find in 1 Tim. 2:11. In 2:11 Paul is telling what women must do and in 2:12 he is telling them what he strictly prohibits them from doing. A proper exegesis of the verb epitrepo as found in verse 2:12 is that it is used in the present continual tense.
Paul is not saying “I do not/will not/will never permit” but instead he is saying is that “I am not (now) permitting” or “Not at this time will I permit. ” Phillip Payne summits that within the New Testament Scriptures or even within the Septuagint that there exists no reference where this verb is used in the active indicative first person singular tense which would certainly imply perpetuity but rather it is only used to convey a timely and specific prohibition.
One of the main thrusts of the Pastorals is to protect the fledgling church from the dangers of false teaching which, if left unchecked false teaching held the potential to permanently stain the church. The urgent nature of the situation at Ephesus is thereby expressed by Paul’s intent to curb such false teachings. In the same breath that Paul speaks about women and teaching he also addresses a woman’s exercise of authority over men. Rather than choosing two more commonly recognized verbs to describe authority (exousiazo) and power (kyrieuo) he uses a word found nowhere else in the New Testament authenteo.
In the early days of the church the verb authenteo held two closely related meanings, “instigating or perpetrating a crime’ and “the active wielding of influence (with respect to a person) or the initiation of an action. Harris also concludes that that the verb meant “to hold sway or use power, to be dominant. ” In itself it never meant “to be an official” or “to be authorized. ” Wilshire is in complete agreement with this position and comments that, “The meaning of authentein in 1 Tim 2:12 may not be “exercising authority” or even ‘holding sway or using power,’ or ‘being dominant. In itself it never meant ‘to be an official’ or ‘authorized ’” In establishing prohibitions against women teaching in 2:12 Paul introduces certain limitations in order that women could take full advantage of their learning. Paul envisioned something happening at Ephesus which had happened once before. The women at Ephesus had been lead to believe certain unorthodox things. The women in Ephesus were reminiscent of the woman in the Garden of Eden. Because of her lack of knowledge Eve had been deceived into believing certain “unorthodox” teachings as well.
Such as if she would dare touch the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil she would become like God but she would not die. She authoritatively taught this to her husband. Unfortunately, Adam learned too well. In giving this command Paul wanted to break a similar sequence of events at Ephesus. Just as Adam and Eve destroyed themselves in Eden the church at Ephesus could also be destroyed. It is at this point that Paul as their own apostle and teacher (2:7), using his personal judgment (verse 12), he give the Ephesians this particular guideline. Conclusion The relationship of man and woman was established during creation week.
Although created as equals in God’s image men and women are different but yet each complements each other. Standing equally before God each is charged with his own personal spiritual responsibility and each has been given the opportunity to engage in a personal relationship with God through His gracious plan of redemption. Thus, man and woman are equally valuable, equally important, and equally necessary for God’s plans and purposes. Relational order was established during creation where man was formed first and was charged first with his role and then woman was addressed.
This relational order is expressed over and over again throughout much of the Bible. Created to complement each other in a family unit so too, must men and women complement each other in the family of Jesus Christ. Each must recognize the needs of each other to accomplish the specific mission of the church. Understanding each other and ministering to full complement of his or her own good is the only way that men and women can minister together in the name of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul was known around central Asia as a liberator and a purveyor of peace.
For the women of Ephesus learning God’s truth from those more knowledgeable than they was truly liberating for them. But in the two millennia that has passed simply learning in submission and never given the opportunity to mister to those who may need it the most to many is still the norm to follow. Paul never intended for women to simply learn and remain silent. It was Paul’s plan to have women mature as heirs according to God’s promise (cf. Gal. 3:26-29). Much as the writers of the New Testament passively accepted slavery there are few today that believe we should revert back to this archaic practice.
In much the same way these same writers of New Testament Scripture accepted the oppression of women to be a part of daily life should we too deny women of today a leadership role as head of the local church? Just as Paul’s proclamation of equality in Galatians 3 stood for all in the city of Galatia to understand that all are one in Jesus Christ so should women of today be able to serve in whatever position they are qualified for. Have we received God’s wisdom or are we simply being foolish? 26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 7 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. 30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— 31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD. ” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 Bibliography
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Perriman, “What Eve Did, What Women Shouldn’t Do: The Meaning of Auqentew in 1 Timothy 2:12,” TynBul 44. 1 (1993): 138. [ 24 ]. Timothy J. Harris, “Why Did Paul Mention Eve’s Deception? A Critique of P. W Bameit’s ‘Interpretation of 1 Timothy 2,’” EQ 62 (Apr-Jun 1990): 342. [ 25 ]. Leland E. Wilshire, “1 Timothy 2:12 Revisited: A Reply to Paul W. Barnett and Timothy J. Harris,” EQ 65. 1 (Jan. -Mar 1993): 48. [ 26 ]. Aida Dina Besancon Spencer, “Eve at Ephesus: Should Women Be Ordained as Pastors According to the First Letter to Timothy 2:11-15? ” JETS 17, no. 4 (Fall 1974): 219.