WOMEN IN THE CHURCH
I. Where have women served according to Scripture?
A. As Prophetess-
Miruim (Exodus 15:20, Numbers 12:1-2)
Deborah (Judges 4:4)
Huldah (2 Kings 22:14-20)
Noadiah (Nehemiah 6:14)
Isaiah’s wife (Isaiah 8:3)
Anna (Luke 2:36-38)
Philip’s 4 daughters (Acts 21:9)
Acts 2:17 “In the last days your sons and daughters will prophesy…”
I Corinthians 11:5 “Every woman who prays or prophesys…”
Role of Prophet/Prophetess:
To speak for God to the People through-
*Revelation and insight into the word of God
(Ephesians 3:5, Acts 21:10, I Corinthian 14:25)
*Exhortation (I Corinthians 14:3, Ezra 5:1, 6:14)
*Warning (Acts 21:8-11, Acts 11:27-30)
*Directing people to where God wants them to go (Jeremiah 14:14)
Prophesy is one of the Spirit’s Gifts:
I Corinthians 12:1-11
B. Leader of the Nation and Judge:
Deborah (Judges 4)
C. As Witnesses and Proclaimers of the Good News
*4 Women at the Cross (John 19:25)
*Mary Magdala/Women first to see the risen Christ
(Mt. 28:8-10 / Luke 24:9-11 / Mark 16:1-11 / John 20:10-18)
*Aged Women to teach younger (Titus 2:3-4)
*Romans 16 of 29 names 9 are women
D. As Deaconess:
*Romans 16:1 Phoebe called a diakonus which is translated deacon typically
or servant here at times. The specific noun was used and not the abstract
noun diakonia nor the verb diakonein (serving)
*Pliny wrote 60 years after Paul of torturing 2 Christian maidservants who
were deaconess. (Dunn, Romans 9-16, pp. 886-887; AF Walls, NBD p.298,
HC Kee, The New Testament in Context: Source and Documents)
*I Timothy 3:11 seems to be talking about a position of Deaconess and not
Deacon’s Wives as it is sometimes translated. The sentence structure and
the form of the section is just like that used for the sections on Elders and
Deacons. Also why would Paul ignore mentioning anything about Elder’s
E. Fellow Workers / Church Planters / Missionaries:
*Romans 16:3 Priscilla and Aquilla
Why is Priscilla mentioned if she wasn’t in a leadership role? Why is she
mentioned first 4 of the 6 times mentioned?
*Romans 16:7 Junias
It could grammatically be either a male or female name. Yet in 250
instances in Greek Literature there is not one where it was a male.
The word used is used of (1) the 12, (2) Paul and Barnabus (Acts 14:4, 14),
(3) the Messengers Jesus sent out (Mark 6:30), (4) James the Lord’s brother
(Galatians 1:19) (5) those set aside to teach (Apollos, Junias).
“oitines eisin episnmoi en tois apostolois” translated episnmoi as
Outstanding, well known, or nortorious (Matt. 27:16) en as: in, on, among,
II. Passages Limiting Women’s Role:
A. I Corinthians 14: 26-35
33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints, 34 women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.
The word translated “silent” is sigatosan which means to keep silent or to hold ones peace. It is a word used in : Luke 9:36, 18:39, Acts 12:17, 15:12, Romans 16:25 and I Corinthians
14:28, 30, 34.
Some see this as a ban for all time that women are to be in submission to husbands both at home and in the church. But how does this fit with I Corinthians 11:5 if it is a total ban on women speaking in the church? Others maintain that Paul’s concern is that the church be strengthened by believers showing respect for each other and outsiders. This includes taking account of social practices. Still others say that Paul is talking specifically about the disruptions of worship by women who became involved in noisy discussions surrounding tongues-speaking and prophecy. This perspective is that Paul was telling the women to “hush” so that others can hear what is being said in the service.
General Cultural Information:
The Jews gave a bigger place in the home and family than most cultures yet women,
according to the Law, were not people but things at the disposal of the father of the
husband. They were forbidden to learn the Law, had no part of synagogue service, were separated off in a gallery in the synagogue where they couldn’t be seen, forbidden to teach even the youngest children, were classed together with slaves and children. A man’s morning prayer included thanking God that he wasn’t made a “gentile, slave or woman.”
A strict Rabbi would talk to no woman on the street including his wife, mother or
The Greek culture saw a respectable woman as one who lived in seclusion. It was to be a very confined life where she didn’t even share meals with men. Only her husband came to her quarters. In Corinth was the Temple of Aphrodite with 1000 sacred female prostitutes.
Ephesus has the Temple of Diana with 100 Priestess called “bees”. In these towns if
Christian women took an active role in speaking the Gospel their reputation would be that They belonged to a resort of loose women.
B. I Timothy 2: 11-14
11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.
Is this a general prohibition or is it having to do with the teaching of women not properly Instructed. The women of Ephesus, where Timothy was working, had been promoting some wrong teaching because of their lack of understanding.
Learning in “Quietness” --- nsuxia which means tranquil or quiet not silence with no
Questions. It is used in 2 Thessalonians 3:12, Acts 22:2 and the adjective form used in
I Peter 3:4 and I Timothy 2:2. It has to do with the demeanor and is talking about not
“talking foolishness” or “being a busybody”.
“Not have authority over a man” --- the word is only used here and means to domineer.
It probably referred to women advancing errors of the false teachers and badgering their Husbands with its mistakes.
A powerful argument about what may be a more accurate translation of the passage is
given by the Bishop of Durham, Dr N. T. Wright. He says what Paul was actually saying was: So this is what I want: the men should pray in every place, lifting up holy hands, with no anger or disputing. 9In the same way the women, too, should clothe themselves in an appropriate manner, modestly and sensibly. They should not go in for elaborate hair-styles, or gold, or pearls, or expensive clothes; 10instead, as is appropriate for women who profess to be godly, they should adorn themselves with good works. 11They must be allowed to study undisturbed, in full submission to God. 12I’m not saying that women should teach men, or try to dictate to them; they should be left undisturbed. 13Adam was created first, you see, and then Eve; 14and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived, and fell into trespass. 15She will, however, be kept safe through the process of childbirth, if she continues in faith, love and holiness with prudence.
II. The Goal of the Church:
26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were
baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor
Greek, slave nor free, no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you
belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.