Sunday, August 3, 2014

Women can be Pastors/Preachers.

Those who insist that women should not be allowed to be Pastors really have only one Bible passage they base that view on - 1 Timothy 2:11-14. Most articles on the subject never cite any other verses.

It is inadvisable to build a doctrine on something mentioned only once; the Bible is a massive book the repeats itself frequently for a reason. Every detail of it is important and inspired, but not everything in it is doctrine.

The passage in 1 Timothy only says a woman shouldn't teach or hold authority over a man. Speaking for myself, I look upon the roles of Pastor/Preacher as neither a position of authority (the only Authority in the Church is the Holy Spirit), nor strictly speaking a teacher. The Pastor is simply someone who declares the Word of God.

1 Timothy 2:12 ought not be regarded as a blanket rule for all women in all churches. If it were, then women could not speak at all, for the same verse that tells them not to teach also tells them to be silent.

This is the chief passage that is used to oppose women preaching and yet strictly speaking it says nothing about preaching, nor does it say anything about a public worship or church service. On the contrary, this passage is giving instructions to wives as to how they were to conduct themselves in regard to their husband. Paul says in 1 Cor. 14:35, "And if they will LEARN anything, let them ask their husbands at home." Now he states in 1 Tim. 2:12 that women should learn in silence, and should not usurp authority over the man. Paul is dealing with more of a home problem than a church problem.  This is purely about the relationship between husband and wife.

Acts 18:25-26 and II Chronicles 34:22-24 clearly refute any notion that women can't teach men as an absolute rule.

To cite 1 Corinthians 14:34-5 as saying women shouldn't speak in church is to take the passage out of context. To do so ignores the point of Paul's entire message to the Corinthians. It's dealing with the problem of people blurting things out exuberantly disrupting the sermon. Elsewhere Paul speaks of women prophesying in church in 1 Corinthians 11:5 and onward deals with things going on in church.

The point of Titus 1:6-7 is a warning against Polygamy (the exact meaning in the Greek is that there be only one wife, not 'at least one', as some make it sound). Paul himself was single and clearly served as a preacher.  Some say Paul wasn't a pastor because neither the word Elder, or Bishop was ever used of him.  Lots of time a word doesn't get used of someone it qualified for.

Something else I would like to point out is that whenever one sees the term 'man' or 'men' in the New Testament, if the word in Greek is 'anthropos', then it actually means 'man' as in 'mankind', i.e. the Human race. 'Arseno' is the term for the male gender. I've discussed that elsewhere. By the same token, in the Old Testament, if the Hebrew is 'adam' or 'enosh', that denotes 'mankind' also; 'ish' and 'zakar' are gender-specific.

The Great Commission, Mark 16:15, "Preach the Gospel," is intended for ALL believers, and to all the Church. The command to "preach the Gospel" makes no distinction between male and female.

Women preachers are a fulfillment of prophecy (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17-18). "and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy".

Both the Hebrew (N@biy'ah (neb-ee-yaw'); Noun Feminine, Strong #: 5031), and Greek (Prophetis (prof-ay'-tis); Word Origin: Greek, Noun Feminine, Strong #: 4398) are used for 'prophetess', meaning "female prophet".

The role of 'prophet' means "public expounder," and is not limited to just supernatural predictions of the future. The Pastor/Preacher is the post-Pentecost equivalent of the office of 'prophet' in ancient Israel.

As a verb, "prophesy" means "to speak forth, or flow forth." 1 Cor. 14:3 says, "But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men ('anthopos', meaning 'mankind') to edification, and exhortation and comfort."

The dictionary says that to prophesy is "to speak under divine preach."

Therefore we learn from the original translation, from the Bible interpretation, and from the dictionary, that to prophesy means more than to tell the future, but to speak publicly about the past, present, or future. It is to preach under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

A number of prophetesses are mentioned in the Hebrew Bible.

Miriam the sister of Moses was a prophetess, while Aaron held the office of priest, and Moses was the civil head of State during the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness (Exodus 15:20; Numbers 12:1; Micah 6:4).

Deborah was a prophetess as well as a judge (judges were the civil heads of state for Israel during the period between Joshua and Saul; Judges 4:4-5). The Bible mentions no fewer than four female heads of state - Deborah; the Queen of Sheba; Athaliah, and Kandake queen of Ethiopia from Acts 8. Only Athaliah is portrayed negatively (Jezebel was not a Queen-Regent, she was influential but did not officially rule). The other three are all positive figures in the Biblical narrative, so female leaders may well have a better over all track record then males.

Isaiah 8:3 mentions a prophetess.

And then there is Huldah from 2 Kings 22:14 and 2 Chronicles 34:22, to whom King Josiah and the Priests had to go to for Divine counsel since the Ark was already gone.

There's also Noadiah from Nehemiah 6:14

I should note also that the Talmud counts the mother of Samuel as well as David's wife Abigail both as prophetesses, although they are not so named in scripture. They did not serve that office but they did prophesy.

In the New Testament yet another prophetess is mentioned in connection with the Nativity - Anna the daughter of Phanuel of the Tribe of Asher (Luke 2:36).

Entering the Dispensation of Grace, it's important to remember that the first news of the Resurrection of Christ was relayed by women to a group of men.

Phillip had four daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:9).

Priscilla is almost always listed before her husband Aquila whenever they are mentioned. Perhaps both were preaching, but she certainly was.  Paul lists her first in Romans 16 and refers to the church that is in their home, it makes nos sense for her to be listed first if she's not the leader.

In Romans 16:1-2, Phebe is called a "succourer" in the KJV translation; the Greek word is 'prostatis' (pros-tat'-is); Word Origin: Greek, Noun Feminine, Strong #: 4368 - meaning a woman set over others, a female guardian, protectress, patroness, caring for the affairs of others and aiding them with her resources.  The feminine for of the same word the KJV translated "rule" in I Timothy 5:17, it's used through out the pastoral epistles to refer to the Overseer's authority.

She is also called a deacone.

1 Timothy 5:2 refers to women Elders, Elder is a synonym for Bishop.  Titus 2:3 also in the Greek.

I could also appeal to Junia or numerous other women mentioned in Romans 16.  Or Nympha from Colossians, which the KJV erroneously changes into a male name and adds a male pronoun.  The church met in her house.

But I shall finish with Euodia and Syntyche form Philippians 4.

When he describes the ministry of Euodia and Syntyche, Paul uses a couple of the same terms he had previously applied to Timothy and Epaphroditus.  Paul writes that Euodia and Syntyche had contended together with him “in the Gospel”.  Earlier in the same letter, Paul had also described Timothy as someone who had served with him “in the Gospel” (Phil. 2:22).  Paul goes on to refer to Euodia and Syntyche as his “fellow-workers“.  Earlier, Paul had also referred to Epaphroditus as his “fellow-worker” (Phil. 2:25).  So, according to Paul, the ministries of the women Euodia and Syntyche were comparable to the ministries of the men Timothy and Epaphroditus.

 Early church bishop and theologian, John Chrysostom (c349-407), believed that Euodia and Syntyche were leaders in the Philippian church.  Moreover, he compared them to Phoebe, a woman minister (diakonos) in Cenchrea (Rom. 16:1-2).  In his 13th Homily on Philippians he wrote:
 These women [Euodia and Syntyche] seem to me to be the chief of the Church which was there, and [Paul] commends them to some notable man whom he calls his yokefellow; [Paul] commends them to him, as to a fellow-worker, and fellow-soldier, and brother, and companion, as he does in the Epistle to the Romans, when he says, I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a minister of the church at Cenchrea (Romans 16:1). (Homilies on Philippians, 13)
 It was not unusual for women to have, leadership roles in Philippi.  Philippi was the chief city of Macedonia (Acts 16:12) and it has been well documented that Macedonian women enjoyed greater freedoms, rights and powers than many other women of that time.
“If Macedonia produced perhaps the most competent group of men the world had yet seen, the women were in all respects the men’s counterparts; they played a large part in affairs, received envoys and obtained concessions for them from their husbands, built temples, founded cities, engaged mercenaries, commanded armies, held fortresses, and acted on occasion as regents or even co rulers.”  W. Tarn and G.T. Griffith in Hellenistic Civilisation, 3rd Edition, 1952, pp89,99; quoted by Ralph Martin (1983:16)
“We can see this [freedom of women] even in the narrative in Acts of Paul’s work in Macedonia.  In Philippi, Paul’s first contact was with the meeting for prayer by a riverside, and he spoke to the women gathered there (Acts 16:13).  Lydia was obviously a leading figure in Philippi (Acts 16:14).[6]  In Thessalonica, many of the chief women were won for Christianity, and the same thing happened at Berea (Acts 17:4 & 12). …it is well worth remembering, when we are thinking of the place of women in the early church and of Paul’s attitude to them, that in the Macedonian churches they clearly had a leading place.” (William Barclay 2003:86)
 Were Euodia and Syntyche church leaders?  Paul’s letter to the Philippians differs to his other letters because Paul specifically includes the overseers (episkopoi) and ministers (diakonoi) in his opening greeting.  Instead of the traditional English translation of “overseers and deacons”,  FF Bruce (1981) translates this phrase in Philippians 1:1 as “chief pastors and other ministers” which may more faithfully convey the meaning of these roles in New Testament times.  It does seem possible that Euodia, Syntyche, and possibly Clement who is mentioned with them, were the overseers or chief pastors of house churches at Philippi.  In the 1st century, independently wealthy women, as well as men, who hosted a church in their own homes may have functioned as overseers (episkopoi).  At the very least, Euodia and Syntyche, like many other 1st century Christian women, were ministers (diakonoi).

So there is certainly no Biblical reason women can't preach.

New insight, what we call the Pasotrial Epistles, should be called the Paulian Pastoral Epistles.  There are two other Pastoral Epistles in The Bible, 2 John and 3rd John.

For some additional context, here  is my post on traditional traditional gender roles in The Bible in general.

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