If you think women are weak, read Judges, chapters 4 and 5. Deborah is the nation of Israel’s wise and godly leader. All the men are following her leadership. Jael, also a woman, is the one who shows the warrior heart and defeats the evil king with courage and action. In the Old Testament of the Bible we see other women referred to as prophets, like Miriam and Huldah:
- Exodus 15:20a Then Miriam the prophetess… (NIV)
- 2 Chronicles 34:22a Hilkiah and those the king had sent with him went to speak to the prophetess Huldah… (NIV)
I really don’t understand the bias against women in ministry among so many believers these days. I do not think it is Biblical. In the New Testament there was a woman named Junias who was recognized as an Apostle:
- Romans 16:7 Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. (NIV)
“Though widely accepted as a woman apostle throughout early Church history, in later translations an “s” was added to the end of her name, making it into a masculine form, Junias. What was the reasoning behind this – was it a scribe’s mistake? Or could it have been something more political, like an attempt to deny that women could be apostles? We don’t know. What we do know is that any masculine form of the name Junia was essentially non-existent during those times, while the feminine was, and is to this day, quite common (just Google it and see the evidence!). More recently, scholars have overwhelmingly acknowledged that the name is definitively feminine. The NIV translation finally corrected the name in the 2011 revision, along with thousands of other gender-related corrections. In naming our ministry The Junia Project, we hope to restore Junia’s identity and honor her service in advancing the gospel in the early Church.” (From The Junia Project)
And what about this passage?
- Acts 21:8-9 8 Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven. 9 He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied. (NIV)
To prophesy means to speak to others under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Do we really think that they didn’t prophesy publicly? God went out of His way to note that these women were used to speak this way in the New Testament scriptures.
We use passages like, “The husband is the head over the wife.” Okay, but does that mean that all men are the head over that woman’s life? No, it does not! We see clearly that Deborah was used by God to lead men in Judges 4.
What about Phoebe in the New Testament? The italicized excerpts below are from the position paper “The Role of Women in Ministry as Described in the Holy Scripture,” by The Assemblies of God General Presbytery, Web link: http://ag.org/top/Beliefs/Position_Papers/pp_downloads/PP_The_Role_of_Women_in_Ministry.pdf
Phoebe, a leader in the church at Cenchrea, was highly commended to the church at Rome by Paul (Romans 16:1,2). Unfortunately, translation biases have often obscured Phoebe’s position of leadership, calling her a “servant” (NIV, NASB, ESV). Yet Phoebe was diakonos of the church at Cenchrea. Paul regularly used this term for a minister or leader of a congregation and applied it specifically to Jesus Christ, Tychicus, Epaphras, 3 Timothy, and to his own ministry. Depending on the context, diakonos is usually translated “deacon” or “minister.” Though some translators have chosen the word deaconess (e.g., RSV, because Phoebe was female), the Greek diakonos is a masculine noun. Therefore, it seems likely that diakonos was the designation for an official leadership position in the Early Church and the proper translation for Phoebe’s role is “deacon” (TNIV, NLT, NRSV) or “minister.”
What about these passages:
Genesis 2:18–25 Some expositors have taught that all women should be subordinate to adult men because Eve was created after Adam to be his “helper” (NIV; “help meet”, KJV). Yet the word ēzer (“helper”) is never used in the Hebrew Bible with a subordinate meaning. Seventeen out of the twenty times it is used, it refers to God as the helper. Eve was created to be a help (kenegdo) “suitable” or “corresponding to” Adam, not a subordinate.
There are only two passages in the entire New Testament that might seem to contain a prohibition against the ministry of women (1 Corinthians 14:34 and 1 Timothy 2:12). Since these must be placed alongside Paul’s other statements and practices, they can hardly be absolute, unequivocal prohibitions of the ministry of women. Instead, they seem to be dealing with specific, local problems that needed correction. Therefore, Paul’s consistent affirmation of ministering women among his churches must be seen as his true perspective, rather than the apparent prohibitions of these two passages, themselves subject to conflicting interpretation.
First Timothy 2:11–15 The meaning and application of Paul’s statement, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent” (1 Timothy 2:12), have puzzled interpreters and resulted in a variety of positions on the role of women in ministry and spiritual leadership. From the above survey of passages on exemplary women in ministry, it is clear that Paul recognized the ministry of women. There were obvious problems in Ephesus, some relating to women. Some women were evidently given to immodest apparel and adornment (1 Timothy 2:9). The younger widows were “into the habit of being idle . . . And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to” (1 Timothy 5:13). In his second letter to Timothy, Paul warned against depraved persons (possibly including women) who manipulated “weak-willed,” or “gullible,” women (2 Timothy 3:6). A reading of the entire passage of 1 Timothy 2:9–15 strongly suggests that Paul was giving Timothy advice about dealing with some heretical teachings and practices specifically involving women in the church at Ephesus. The heresy may have been so serious that he had to say about the Ephesian women, “I am not allowing women to teach or have authority over a man.” Other passages show that such exclusion was not normative in Paul’s ministry.
Although the first-century cultural milieu produced a primarily male church leadership, this passage along with other biblical evidence of female spiritual leadership (e.g., Acts 21:9; Romans 16:1–15 ; Philippians 4:2,3) demonstrates that female leadership was not prohibited, either for Paul’s day or for today. Passages that imply most leaders were male may not be taken to say that all leaders were male, since the biblical record speaks approvingly of numerous female leaders.
If you don’t think women can be ministers and preachers, listen to this sermon by Christine Caine of Hillsong Church in Australia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-1DTsvBtbQ If you say that she is not effective as a preacher, you are probably not being honest. Thank God for the women He has called. Thank God for the women He is calling.
I know that this article will upset people who believe differently, but as for me, I see it in the Bible and I see it with my own eyes today, so I say, “WOMEN RISE UP AND TAKE YOUR PLACE IN MINISTRY!!!”
Grace & Truth,