Women's Ordination

Thesis

The position that women should not be pastors or teachers is an historical practice of the church that is also well founded in Scripture.

The Scriptural Case

Women are not to teach in the church

The Apostle Paul wrote:

1 Cor 14:33-35 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

This prohibition against speaking is limited by the context to prohibit speaking as in speaking to teach.

Women are not to teach men

Paul also wrote:

1 Tim 2:11-15 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

Paul's argument here is not from the basis of a cultural bias, or personal preference, but rather as part of the nature of deception. Paul is saying that men and women have a different nature when it comes to matters of deception.

Older women can teach younger women

Titus 2:3-5 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

Wives are not even supposed to teach unbelieving husbands

This is truly an example where the actions are to speak louder than the words.

1 Pet 3:1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;

Qualifications for Leadership

The Biblical qualifications for leadership explicitly limit the gender of the leaders to males.

1 Tim 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

1 Tim 3:12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.

Titus 1:6 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. Titus 1:7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;

Related Texts

Rev 2:20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

2 Tim 3:6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,

Frequently Answered Objections

There are a number of objections that are raised against this by those who support women's ordination to church leadership. This paper will consider only the arguments based on Scripture.

Priscilla Taught Apollos

It is frequently objected that Priscilla taught Apollos. What is much less frequently noted is the context of that teaching.

Acts 18:24-26 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.

There are several points to Consider about this text.

Timothy was taught by his grandmother

This argument comes from putting together two passages from two separate letters to Timothy.

2 Tim 1:5 When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.

2 Tim 3:14-15 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Read it carefully. There is no proof from these passages that Timothy was actually instructed by Lois and Eunice, but it's a reasonable assumption if you do not examine all the evidence. Note that many of the arguments in favor of women's ordinations are based on assumptions, not actually Scriptural passages.

In fact, Paul wrote:

1 Tim 1:2 Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith:

Hence, it's even more reasonable to conclude that Paul was the spiritual father to Timothy.

Paul had a cultural bias as a rabbi

This paper assumes that the Word of God is true and divinely inspired. Arguments that deny inerrancy of the Bible are outside the scope of this paper.


Bibliography

Journal Articles

Holymary, Harold R. III. Does 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 Refer to Women Praying and Prophesying in Church? Bibliotheca Sacra, October-December 1997, pages 461-472.

On-Line Resources

Smith, Chuck., Calvary Chapel - 1 Timothy 2 Commentary Tape. The Word For Today

Feminist Theology Books

Tucker, Ruth A. Daughters of the Church. Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan, 1987.


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This page contains personal opinion and commentary that is not reflective of the seminary that I attend.

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