Apologetic: Women in (Church)Leadership. Introduction: for the purpose of this…
Apologetic: Women in (Church)Leadership.
Introduction: for the purpose of this study, I begin with two significant premises. One, the scriptures are wholly inspired by God and without error. Two, they (the scriptures) are not in conflict and any appearance of such signals a need for further understanding and not their fallacy.
New Testament verses, that do not seem to allow women to have a ministry which involves public speaking (1 Cor. 14:34) or which involves teaching a man (1 Tim. 2:12), are frequently cited as the reasons women cannot be leaders. As stated in premise number two, we either have finite understanding of these passages, or the scriptures would appear to be in conflict in light of the books of Joel and Acts:
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:
16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions and your old men shall dream dreams
Do Joel and Peter really intend for us to believe that daughters would prophesy? Would God indeed keep his promise to pour out his spirit on all flesh? Even female flesh? Let’s examine several cases from scripture where we can see demonstrated that women would prove capable deacons, elders, prophets, evangelists, and yes even pastor/teachers.
Case 1: Junia
Romans 16:7Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
Here we find both a man and woman (Junia in antiquity a feminine name) who were possibly husband and wife noted to be outstanding among apostles (NIV) and who had come to faith previous to Paul’s own conversion. He also speaks of their persecution as prisoners. In any case, they were not merely members of the church at Rome. Because Paul refers to them as apostles, they were likely the founders of the church there.
The feminine name Junia was typical, whereas the masculine name Junias, found in other translations, is unheard of and does not appear in manuscripts prior to the 13th century. In short, the apostle Junia was a woman.
Acts 21:8 And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.9 And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.
This is that!(Joel 2:28)
It was foretold that sons and daughters would prophesy. Here, Phillip the apostle has four daughters who were unmarried (virgins) that prophesied!
In 1 Thessalonians the apostle commands us to 5:19 Quench not the Spirit. 20 Despise not prophesyings. Would we be so bold as to despise the word of God because it passed through the lips of a woman? Paul considered prophesying the greatest of the spiritual gifts (1 Cor 14:1) and God entrusted it to four of Philip’s daughters!
I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant (diakonos) of the church which is at Cenchrea: 2 That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer (prostatis)of many, and of myself also.
Phoebe is a very interesting figure in the New Testament. She comes from the same body of believers as Philip and his daughters. Widely recognized as the deaconess, it is clear by this passage she is more. Paul described Phoebe as both a diakonos and a prostatis. The meaning of the last term has been much debated. In either its masculine or feminine form it means literally one who stands before. This meaning is never lost whether it be translated leader, president, protector or patron. Its verbal form is proistanai (Thess. 5:12; 1 Tim 5:17), a common term used of male church leaders elsewhere in the New Testament.
The first word, diakonos, is translated as servant. Yet, the people of the church to receiver her and assist her. She was clearly an itinerant teacher doing the work of an evangelist! We have no reason to believe Phoebe was an apostle (missionary or church planter), but it is clear that she traveled assisting Paul in the care of existing churches and she was not alone. Evangelists were men and women who preached the gospel of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Euodia and Syntyche of Philippi were coworkers of Paul. Paul wrote that these women “have struggled together with me in the ministry of the gospel” (Phil. 4:2-3). This is similar to what Paul says about Timothy in the same letter: that he had served with him in the gospel (Phil. 2:22). Like Timothy, Euodia and Syntyche were involved in gospel work. Clearly they are involved ministering as evangelists.
2 John 1 The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;
The elect lady who John addresses in his second letter, was a woman functioning as a house-church leader and pastor. In the Greek of 2 John, it is clear that at times John is addressing a single person (the lady), and that at other times he is referring to plural persons (her followers or her congregation). John refers to his followers, and hers, similarly, as children (2 John 1:1, 4, 13 cf. 3 John 1:4). Furthermore, the word lady (kuria) used in 2 John 1 & 5, is the female equivalent of lord (kurios). This lady was a woman with an elevated social position. Numerous ancient papyrus letters, as well as ancient Greek literature, show that kuria was a respectful way to address a woman.The Chosen lady was a person, a house-church leader and pastor.
The gospel radically altered the position of women, elevating them to a partnership with men unparalleled in first-century society. This is seen throughout the New Testament. The following list is of first-century women ministers and church leaders mentioned in the New Testament: Philip’s daughters (Acts 21:9), Priscilla (Acts 18:26; Rom. 16:3-5, etc.), Phoebe (Rom. 16:1-2), Junia (Rom. 16:7), possibly Chloe (1 Cor. 1:11), Euodia and Syntyche (Phil. 4:2-3), Nympha (Col. 4:15), Apphia (Phlm. 2), the chosen lady (2 John 1), the chosen sister (2 John 13), and probably Lydia (Acts 16:40), etc.
To use alienated scripture to sustain a theological argument is haphazard at the very least and at most quite dishonest. Two scriptures that appear to disqualify women from leader ship (1 Cor. 14:34) or (1 Tim. 2:12) must have other significance that is not apparent to the casual reader. The reasons Paul makes these statements in Corinthians and Timothy are subject for another paper. It is noteworthy that these instructions were never given to the other churches in which Paul served as apostle. We clearly feel we have adequately demonstrated that in regard to the 4/5 fold ministry gifts, women have and will even in the last days continue to serve and be used by the Holy Spirit. To believe otherwise would also require one to believe that the Scriptures in the New Testament are in serious conflict.