Monday, April 3, 2017

Can Woman Be Apostles And Pastors?

Can Women Have Authority In The Church?

Question : Can women have authority in the church, can women be apostles and pastors? The reason I ask is because I want to follow God's word before I join a certain church that utilizes women as pastor, bishops, and apostles.

Answer :
Greetings in Jesus wonderful name! God has given a different role for a woman in this life. The role is not to have leadership and authority over men, but to jointly be a helper along with men both in the home first and then in the Church activities later (1 Tim 2:12). When God created woman, the true intention of God was not to keep man alone in his activities, but give him helper comparable to him (Gen 2:18). When woman is compared to man, it is acceptable to see them work together as a unit. But when they compete, they do not complement each other and destroy the unit of the family and church where they are in.

Being a helper doesn't mean a woman is inferior in her role although she is a weaker vessel by God's design (1 Peter 3:7), the word 'helper' is the same word used for the work of the 'Holy Spirit' and we know for sure that the Holy Spirit is not inferior in any way of His position within the Triune God-head (Matt 28:19), but he is playing the role of an helper within the Church universal to help each believer grow spiritually in Christ and become effective members of the body of Christ (John 15:26-27; 16:7, 8-14). So what a unique position God has given to every woman in the Church to transform the church with the role of a helper and an aid and a facilitator in spreading the goodness of God in the land of the living.

One of the chief reason, the Church has been affected these days, is because in this matter of woman's authority, the Church wants to follow the world rather than follow God's word and His will. The world is playing 'feminist' card to draw the power of woman, and create rebellion with in the society. This is the work of evil directly from the pit of hell, which created the society that insist on equality in the authority of men and woman in direct opposition to the Word of God. When God says that woman are weaker vessels and therefore should be considered specially in consideration for more help than men, the world insists the advocacy of women's rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes which is feminism. The result of it is, every where such 'feminist' rebellion of woman is there, we see broken homes, chaotic work place, confusion in business, children suffering, etc....So sad to see the Church follow the world and also suffer the same consequence within.

We know that there are five offices in the New Testament Church which carries authority to minister the Word of God to the Church and to the world (Eph 4:11). According to God Paul categorized these five-fold offices in the following order and hierarchy of authority, "26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. 28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the best gifts." (1 Cor 12:26-31). From the above verse we can see that these offices start from apostles first, prophets second, third teachers, then fourth evangelists who operate in miracles and gifts of healings mainly and fifth pastors who have the strong gifts of helps, administration and variety of tongues to en flame the Church along with the interpretation of tongues. So what do we see here, the gender category is not emphasized here which means, if God has given any one of the above office gifts to hold for a woman, then they should have the liberty to act under a bishop with her gift which will benefit the Church, but not independently apart from the male leadership or an apostle.

At the same time we see apostle Paul also giving the qualification for overseers and deacons to be as male members and not female ones (1 Tim 3:2, 12), thus we see that there should be no confusion in this matter where we should solidly decide, that a woman leadership in the Church is not a principle but rather a exception when God gives a gift to a woman to act with it in the Church. If the Church will not use that woman whom God has chosen and empowered with a gift, the Church will lose strength and confusion will reign when she will start to independently work for the Lord which is not good for her too.

We see God using men and women in the Bible times of both Old Testament and New Testament. Even though women were helpers and played a supportive role to men, yet God used certain women by choice when he did not find enough men ready to take the challenges of leadership. Here are a number of women are mentioned as leaders and prophets of Israel, including Miriam (Exodus 15:20), Deborah (Judges 4:4-5), Esther (Esther 4:15-17), Huldah (2 Kings 22:14) and Athaliah (2 Chronicles 22:10-12).

Jesus chose only men as His twelve apostles (Mark 3:13-19), during the time of Jesus' ministry of which God wanted Him and his apostles to only concentrate on the lost sheep of the nation of Israel and not to the Gentiles which was planned later (Matt 10:6; 15:24). To the Twelve he later committed his teaching, and he commanded them to pass it on after his ascension in order to make disciples of all the nations, who were the nucleus upon which the Church community was built (Matt. 28:19; 16:18). Jesus made clear a relation between the old covenant people represented by its twelve tribes and the people of the new church community represented by the twelve apostles, with the latter taking precedence over the former (Luke 22:29-30). The ancient nation of Israel had begun with the patriarchs, the fathers of the twelve tribes (Gen 49:28; 13:16; Gal 3:6-7; Rev 21:12). The new Israel, the spiritual descendants of Abraham, began with the twelve disciples (Gen 15:5; Gal 6:15, 16; 3:29; Rev 21:14). They formed the transition group between the past and the future, between the ancient people and the new community. Again in the second mission of apostles Jesus chose seventy two laborers to be sent, and they returned with joy and great result of evangelisation (Luke 10:1-24). Then again Jesus chose disciples (students), in order to make them his apostles (missionaries) to the ends of the earth of which he must have chosen some woman disciples in spite of the social taboo and cultural restrictions on woman at that time. We can reasonably assume that among the 72 some may have been women too as they have previously joined themselves in to the ministry of becoming Jesus' disciples in his Galilean ministry (Luke 8:1-3), of which it must have increased to 120 at Pentecost (Acts 1:13-14). The empowerment is the ordination of God that they received divinely to be sent forth to preach the Gospel in all the world, of which women were included in the list.

Paul the apostle clearly mentioned about women's role within the Church saying, "As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church." (NIV, 1 Corinthians 14:33-35). The above verse speaks about woman deciding or debating in the matters of the doctrines of the Church, of which they are expected to remain silent, not allowed to debate about it and then submit to the Law of God which the leaders in the position of male authority will decide under the guidance of God to sharpen and solve the issues rising within the Church. This also emphasizes them to go home and ask their own husbands about the authenticity of the doctrines of Christ (Heb 6:1-3; 2 John 1:9), as it is not good for them to cause confusion about doctrines within the Church. So we know that this is not about whether Woman should be allowed to speak within the Church or not, but rather whether woman should be allowed to influence the doctrines of the Church which is prohibited by the clear instruction of the Scripture as revealed to Paul the chief apostle.

"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." (NIV, 1 Timothy 2:11-12). In this above verse, we come to see again that a woman should learn in quietness and full submission and is not permitted to teach or have authority over a man, rather she is told to be remain silent when she learns the doctrine of Christ within the Church. This does not restrict a woman to stand to teach or preach or testify in the Church, as Paul himself has instructed that a woman can pray or prophecy with her head covered within the Church (1 Cor 11:5, 9-10, 11). The key in the above verse that is emphasized again is for a woman not to "teach or to have authority over a man". Men should have spiritual authority, accountability and have oversight over other men in spiritual matters. No woman should step in to this role particularly against the Scriptural prohibition and go against the will of God in this matter.

So again I see that women are not restricted by the Scripture to use their gifts and talents to spread the gospel for the Glory of God anywhere except the above two restrictions put forward by Paul the apostle under Divine inspiration. Jesus did have a number of women among His larger circle of disciples (Matthew 27:55-56, Mark 15:40-41, Luke 8:1-3, 23:49, John 20:14-18). A number of women held important positions in the early Christian churches (Acts 1:12-14, 18:24-26, 21:7-9, Romans 16:1-16). Virtue and good character comes not by rebellion but in complete obedience to God, so women should not rebel against their lot in life (1 Peter 3:1-6), even though the society may be prejudiced against them in many aspect, yet God has the power to make them stand and make them a blessing to the whole humanity. Thus, like what is told to slaves which includes both man and woman, woman should accept freedom if offered, but, if not, should be obedient to their masters in all things (1 Corinthians 7:20-24, Colossians 3:22-24, 1 Peter 2:18-21). God is never pleased with a rebel woman, but rather only with the submissive inner beauty of her (1 Peter 3:4).

Paul also states that Andronicus and Junia were “outstanding among the apostles”. One of these is a woman—Junia. This is a wonderful commendation coming from someone who was himself an outstanding apostle (Rom 16:7). God promised to use both men servants and maid servants, and promised to pour out His Spirit to make them see visions and prophesy over people in the last days (Acts 2:17-18). Paul considered the ability to prophecy as being the most desirable of the spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 14:1); and he regarded the ministry of prophets as important and influential to spread the gospel. In Acts 21:9 we are told that Philip had four unmarried daughters who prophesied. “Prophesying” is what characterized the ongoing ministry of these women. Thus they were prophets (Ex. Agabus the prophet who accompanied them v 10). By all accounts, Philip’s daughters were highly respected female prophets and leaders in the early church. Paul wrote that these women had “contended at my side for the cause of the gospel” (Phil. 4:2-3). Like Timothy, Euodia and Syntyche who were women, were involved in gospel work. Another female minister esteemed by Paul was Phoebe (Romans 16:1-2). It seems that Phoebe traveled widely and proclaimed the gospel in foreign lands where she effectively ministered as an evangelist. There are several women in the New Testament who functioned as pastor-teachers. Priscilla, another close friend and coworker of Paul, was one of them. Together with her husband Aquila, she taught the already learned and eloquent Apollos, who was himself a teacher, “the way of God” (i.e. theology) more accurately (Acts 18:24-26).

In Acts we see Mark’s mother providing a home for the Christians to assemble (Acts 12:12) and at Philippi we hear of believers meeting in the home of Lydia (Acts 16:14-15, 40). Writing to the Colossians, Paul greets “Nympha and the church in her house” (Col. 4:15). Perhaps Chloe is also the female host of a home-church (1 Cor. 1:11), as may have been some of the other women Paul greets in the last chapter of Romans. The lady Apphia (Phlm. 2), “the chosen lady” (2 John 1), “the chosen sister” (2 John 13), and probably Lydia (Acts 16:40), etc. The “chosen lady”, whom 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. The “chosen lady” was a person, a house-church leader and pastor. The “chosen lady” was not a church (i.e. congregation) as some have wrongly suggested. The gospel “radically altered the position of women, elevating them to a partnership with men unparalleled in first-century society

It would be wonderful if the Church as a whole would recognize that, according to the New Testament, women did function as leaders—as apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers—and that they were respected and valued in these roles by such people as the apostle Paul.

Can woman be apostles and pastors in the Church? Yes, but should not teach or exercise authority over men by holding spiritual authority on the matters of doctrine, accountability and have oversight over other men in spiritual matters. Woman's first service is to her home, bear children and bring up godly children (1 Tim 2:15), take care of her husband and walk pleasing to him (1 Cor 7:12-16) and take care of the home (Titus 2:4, 5). To women who aspired to teach, Paul spoke of Eve's vulnerability to deception, illustrative of how if they take leadership without a man over them, they could be deceived to become false teachers in their horizontal relationship. Yet in the vertical relationship with God, Paul made no distinction between male and female and proclaimed that both are equal in their proximity (Gal 3:28).

I believe if God has called you in to the office and you can realize the gift of God operating within you, you as a woman should not feel any inhibition about it, but rather join in the team of deacons and work your way up to serve all the saints of God in the Church, but always end up at least one post down below the highest bishop man which is the safest place to stand as a woman in leadership. God will be with you to guide you and bless you in your work to the saints as He has helped all the woman saints in all the ages to make them a blessing to many many generations down the line. Even my mother has been a missionary along with my Dad for nearly four decades and God has blessed them with so much fruit where ever they went even until now.

Much Blessings....


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