Here I will simply present a case which I believe has clear Biblical support for women to function as teachers and ordained ministers of the gospel in Biblical context. Everything in life has a Biblical context -- love, sex, hate, confrontation, war, peace, dancing, mourning, killing, marriage, money, work, prayer, holiness, people in ministry, etc.. God clearly defines and contextualizes. This is what keeps the universe (God’s creation) in proper balance with His approval (blessing) or disapproval (curse).
We must take the entire passage of 1 Tim. 2 into account as it reads:
"A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. … But women will be saved through childbearing--if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety."
Paul is addressing the attitude that woman should possess (as does Peter in 1 Peter 3:1). As to women teaching or having authority over a man, God says in Proverbs that sons are not to forsake their mother’s teaching or their father’s instructions (Prov 1:8; Prov 6:20). Again, please note that God is defining roles. The woman is allowed, in fact is instructed, to teach, but her teaching comes under the authority of the husband, just as in the Church a woman’s teaching should come under the authority of a man. Paul, in this passage, is setting down an order of things. He is not saying that a woman cannot teach or give input. If that were so, God would not have completed man with the creation of woman. If you recall, Jesus submitted to his mother’s request, before His time had come, in performing His first miracle at the Wedding in Canaan of Galilee. (John 2: 4-5) Mary was not silent.
We could go on. God told Abraham to heed Sarah’s instructions and send Ishmael away with his mother, Hagar. (Gen 21:10; 21:12) Sarah was not silent. The angel of the LORD appeared to Manoah’s wife (not Manoah) who then told her husband about Israel’s next deliverer. (Judges 13) She was not silent. An entire nation submitted to the leadership of Deborah. (Judges 4:4) Deborah was not silent. Apollos, the gifted evangelist and apologist, submitted to the teaching of Priscilla. (Act 18:26) Priscilla was not silent. It is clear that Paul cannot be saying a woman cannot teach or speak. He is addressing the posture women must possess as mothers and teachers of the word, for God does not contradict Himself.
When we look at this passage in its entirety, it appears that a woman’s salvation is conditional upon bearing children and holy living. Salvation is not predicated upon “good works” but upon His grace. What I am saying here is – this is not an easy passage to understand. Therefore, to take one sentence and build an entire doctrine around it is dangerous. Furthermore, if you hold to the position that “a woman must be silent and not teach men” it contradicts Biblical precedent set by the Old Testament and New Testament pattern as well.
For instance in Acts 21:8-9 we are told that Philip had four virgin daughters who preached. The Bible does not say they only preached to women. They were given by the Holy Spirit the gift to preach and “they were not silent.”
Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven. He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.
The word here is “preach.” The passage further implies that although they had the gift to preach, they did not possess the gift to foretell. But, that addresses another question for another time.
If you hold to the position that women should not teach or preach then every mother should be removed from the home and every woman Sunday school teacher should be removed from the classroom. This cannot be what the Apostle Paul is saying because, as I have stated, it contradicts Old and New Testament pattern and theology. Paul is addressing the attitude and posture a woman should exhibit, and her role as one submitted to male authority; he is not removing her from office. If she has been gifted with a calling then she should use her gift and she should be accepted by the congregation as one ordained by the LORD.
In reference to 1 Tim 3:12:
“a deacon must be the husband of one wife and manage his children and his household well.”
I do not see any conflict here. Since God is “no respecter of persons” and “there is neither male nor female in the body of Christ” then the same standard and requirements for a man would hold for a woman (in context of a woman’s submission to male leadership). She would need to be the wife of one husband and manage her children. Throughout the Bible, we are often given only one gender (the male) when indeed the female gender is likewise included. John 3:36 tells us
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."
Does this exclude women from salvation since only the male pronoun is used? Certainly not! I believe the same is true of those who qualify for ministry by gifts given to them by the Holy Spirit.
In closing, may I say that there is ONLY one teacher and that is the Holy Spirit. I may have the gift to preach and teach, but what a person receives and takes home is up to him or her. People accept what they want to accept and they reject what they want to reject. Therefore, each person decides who is his or her teacher – is this not true? Whether the instrument is a man or woman, what we hear from God is up to us. Those who heard the testimony of the “Woman at the Well” could have easily rejected her message because she was a woman; instead, they received her message and were gloriously converted.
Ultimately, this responsibility (authority) in deciding who our teacher is has been entrusted to us and we will answer to what it is we have accepted as truth. (That does not negate the responsibility of those called to Pastor and teach, and as Scripture tells us: “they have the greater accountability.”)
This is what I believe. It is what I believe the Bible teaches concerning women in ministry and the ordaining of women to ministry, and I believe I have the mind of God on these matters.
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