So, Can a Woman Be a Pastor? You May Be Surprised!
A deep dive into women in church leadership.
Can a woman be a Pastor? Honestly, this is one of the hottest topics when it comes to Christianity. You have women trying to break out into what they believe their calling is and others limiting their ability to do so. No true Christian wants to go against the Word of God and sometimes we can get in our flesh when we do not like something. After all, the Word of God is offensive to the flesh. So let’s start with the two verses in Timothy that is used all of the time when it comes to women in a ministry position.
1 Timothy 2:12– But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.
1 Timothy 3:2– An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach.
1 Corinthians 7:8– So I say to those who aren’t married and to widows—it’s better to stay unmarried, just as I am.
Proverbs 18:22– The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the LORD.
Psalm 127:3– Children are a blessing and a gift from the Lord.
Luke 23:29– For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’
Women in Church Leadership
So let’s finally do it. Let’s talk about the age-old question about women in church leadership. All of the time I get asked, “Can a woman be a Pastor?” or “Where in the Bible does it say women can be Pastor’s, Elder’s, or Apostles?”. Or how come you ordain women into Church leadership?
We know Huldah was the relative of Jeremiah and taught the Word publicly in school…over men and women.
So to begin our studies on this, let’s go to the Word. Let’s highlight some of the women in the Bible to paint a picture of how women are used. This way the next time someone asks you, “Can a woman be a Pastor?”, you will have a good answer for them.
Deborah the Judge; Can a woman be a Pastor?
I want to start with Deborah the Judge. She was a great example of women in leadership We will use only one old testament reference since we are not under the Old covenant anymore, but we can still see scripturally, culturally, and historically how the women were used in the framework of the Church structure.
Judges 4:1-4– Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, now that Ehud was dead. So the Lord sold them into the hands of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. Sisera, the commander of his army, was based in Harosheth Haggoyim. Because he had nine hundred chariots fitted with iron and had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years, they cried to the Lord for help. Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time.
2 Samuel 7:11– And as since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel, and have caused thee to rest from all thine enemies. Also the LORD telleth thee that he will make thee a house.
Women In Church Leadership – New Testament
What I would like to do now is use 3 examples of women in the New Testament. We can easily see how they were used and how they operated. We will be able to see what their roles and responsibilities were. Then, after we deal with these few examples we will specifically get into the “anti-women” verses that appear in scripture.
Can a Woman Be a Pastor? Consider Phoebe.
Romans 16:1-3– I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea; that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and that you help her in whatever matter she may have need of you; for she herself has also been a helper of many, and of myself as well. Greet Prisca (the Roman name for Priscilla) and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus,
I argued that because the apostle Paul commended the work of Phoebe-a deacon (Romans 16:1-2)-the tradition of female deacons continued throughout the early centuries, as noted both by the archaeological evidence and also in Christian literature preserved from this period. For example, Clement of Alexandria (150-215 C.E.), Origen (185-242 C.E.), John Chrysostom (347- 407 C.E.), and Egeria (a fifth-century pilgrim) refer to female deacons without reservation. The historical evidence is abundant because the biblical record is so clear.
1 Timothy 3:1-13- It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach. Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things. Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households. For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
While some scholars believe Paul restricted the office of deacon to men, others do not, since, when describing the qualities that the office-holders called “deacons” must possess, Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 3:11 gunaikas (Greek for “women”) hosautos (Greek for “likewise”), translated “likewise the women.” The “likewise” indicated that the women deacons were to live according to the same standards as the men deacons (see also the Apostle Paul’s use of the term “likewise” in Romans 1:27, 1 Cor. 7:3,4,22, and Titus 2:3,6).
Romans 1:27– and in the same way (likewise) also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.
In classical Greek the word prostates (προστάτης) (feminine, prostatis) was used to mean either a chief or leader or a guardian or protector, often in a religious context; it was later used also to translate the Roman concept of a patron. The Apostle Paul’s use indicates that its range of meanings had not changed by New Testament times. This suggests that Phoebe was a woman of means, who, among other things, contributed financial support to Paul’s apostolate, and probably hosted the house church of Cenchreae in her home, as well as, providing shelter and hospitality to Paul when in the town…who also taught, trained and pastored the men and women when paul was not there.
Euodia and Syntyche
Philippians 4:2-3– I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
The Temple of Artemis or Artemision (Greek: Ἀρτεμίσιον; Turkish: Artemis Tapınağı), also known less precisely as the Temple of Diana, was a Greek temple dedicated to an ancient, local form of the goddess Artemis (associated with Diana, a Roman goddess). It was located in Ephesus(near the modern town of Selçuk in present-day Turkey). It was completely rebuilt twice, once after a devastating flood and three hundred years later after an act of arson, and in its final form was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. By 401 AD it had been ruined or destroyed. Only foundations and fragments of the last temple remain at the site.
Acts 19:23-29– About that time there occurred no small disturbance concerning the Way. For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, was bringing no little business to the craftsmen; these he gathered together with the workmen of similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that our prosperity depends upon this business. You see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable number of people, saying that gods made with hands are no gods at all. Not only is there danger that this trade of ours fall into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis be regarded as worthless and that she whom all of Asia and the world worship will even be dethroned from her magnificence.” When they heard this and were filled with rage, they began crying out, saying, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” The city was filled with confusion, and they rushed with one accord into the theater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia.
Can a Woman be a Pastor? What does history say?
There are many indications (from ancient statues found in Ephesus, etc) that the “new Roman woman,” with new social freedoms and powers, was making her influence felt among the wealthier Ephesian women. The passage in 1 Timothy 2:9-10, where wealthy women in the Ephesian church are given corrective instructions, is another indication that not all women in Ephesus were the epitome of sōphrosunē—modest propriety.”
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1. MacDonald, Margaret Y., “Was Celsus Right? The Role of Women in the Expansion of Early Christianity”, Early Christian Families in Context: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue, ed. David L. Balch and Carolyn Oziak (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003), p. 166
2. Liddell, Scott & Jones, 1882, Lexicon, s.v.
3. Manes, Rosalba. “Phoebe a woman of luminous charity”, L’Osservatore Romano, January 2, 2018
4. Jewett, Robert. Romans: A Commentary (Minneapolis, MN.: Fortress Press, 2007), p. 943