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There are women pastors in the New testament Priscilla Phoebe Nympha


For the umpteenth time, I’ve been asked where in the New Testament it says that women were pastors. Someone, who I’ll refer to as Tee, wanted information. He said he wanted examples that are “rock solid,” where it says “point blank” something like “’Susan was a preacher and teacher’ in plain text.” In reply to Tee, I rehashed points and arguments that I’ve shared many times before in conversations and in articles.

I wasn’t intending on posting my reply as an article. However, after observing the online hoo-hah over the ordination of three female pastors at Saddleback Church on May 6, I’ve edited and expanded my reply to Tee and posted it here. (If you’re interested, you can see the original conversation on my Facebook page here.) There is a biblical case for female pastors.

Paul’s Ministry Terminology

The apostle Paul doesn’t identify anyone in his letters as a pastor, or as a local church elder or overseer. His favourite terms for fellow ministers are (in descending order): coworker, brother/ sister, diakonos (“minister/ deacon”), and apostolos (“apostle/ missionary”).[1] He also uses “labourer/ labour” words when referring to identified ministers. Paul uses these terms for men such as Timothy and Silas, and for women such as Prisca, Euodia, Syntyche, Phoebe, Junia, Persis, Apphia, etc.

Furthermore, Paul often uses several terms to describe one minister. He was flexible with ministry terminology. He didn’t use fixed titles, so there wasn’t, for example, Pastor Silas or Pastor Phoebe.

If we’re looking in the New Testament for individuals called “pastor,” we won’t find them. If, however, we look for people who functioned as pastors in local churches (which were mostly house churches), then we find women as well as men, and also couples (e.g., Nympha in Colossae, the Chosen Lady in Asia Minor).

The Example of the Ephesian Church

New Testament churches were not organised, and did not function, in the same way as most of our churches today. And in the New Testament, it’s difficult to find identified ministers of local churches with titles.

The church in Ephesus, for example, had overseers (episkopoi; possibly patrons, hosts and leaders of house churches),[2] male and female ministers (diakonoi; unspecified ministers), male and female elders (presbyteroi; some elders taught), and enrolled widows (which quickly became a church order).[3] But none of the people with these ministries or roles is identified or named. None of them!

Apart from three apostate teachers, Hymenaeus, Alexander, and Philetus (1 Tim. 1:20; 2 Tim. 2:17), the only people identified as ministers associated with the Ephesian church are Timothy, who was in Ephesus for a limited time acting as Paul’s representative (cf. 2 Tim. 4:13, 21), Prisca and Aquila (2 Tim. 4:19), and the household of Onesiphorus (2 Tim. 1:16; 4:19).[4]

Prisca is arguably as clear an example of an NT church leader or pastor as you can get. I suggest one of the reasons she is not recognised by some as a church leader, apart from the fact that she is female, is because people don’t understand how Paul spoke about ministers and ministry, and they don’t understand how mid-first century churches operated and organised themselves.

Prisca in Ephesus, and later in Rome, was just as much a minister and leader as Stephanas in Corinth. In fact, she and her husband may have had more experience and more influence in ministry than Stephanas and his fellow ministers.

Preachers and Teachers

What about the terms “preacher” and “teacher”?

The only people called “preacher” (kērux) in the NT are Paul and Noah. The word “preacher” is used differently in the NT from how the word is used by many Christians today. This article, here, looks at “preaching” words, both nouns and verbs, in the NT. These words are typically used in the context of proclaiming the gospel message to people who haven’t heard it before.

The only people called “teacher” (didaskalos) in the context of the church are Paul (a few times) and the named leaders in Syrian Antioch who are referred to as “prophets and teachers”: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, and Saul (as he was known then) (Acts 13:1). In 1 Tim 2:7 and in 2 Tim 1:11, Paul calls himself by three terms: preacher, apostle, and teacher.

“Teaching” verbs are used for various people in Acts including Peter and John, Paul and Barnabas, and Apollos who was corrected by Priscilla and Aquila. That Apollos (an eloquent and educated man who was teaching in Ephesus) was corrected by Priscilla and Aquila, and that this was recorded in a positive manner in Acts 18, surely tells us something about the significance of the ministry of this couple.

Paul uses “teaching” verbs occasionally in his letters for himself and Timothy, etc. And a “teaching” verb (as well as the noun “prophet”) is used in Revelation 2:20 for Jezebel of Thyatira. Her example shows that women were church leaders. However, she is an example of a bad leader and an errant teacher. (She was given time to repent of her immorality.)

It’s important to note that in his general instructions about ministry, Paul never says that the ministry of teacher/ teaching, or of pastor, is off-limits to women. See Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:28, and Ephesians 4:11. And in 1 Corinthians 14:26 and Colossians 3:16, Paul encourages participation in ministry, including bringing a teaching.

Terminology and Authority

Tee wanted a clear statement such as “Susan was a preacher and teacher.” In fact, we do have a clear statement from Paul about a female minister. Among other things, he says that Phoebe was “diakonos of the church at Cenchrea” (Rom. 16:1-2). Unlike what some detractors say about the word diakonos, Paul typically used the word for Christian ministers, including himself: Phoebe was minister of the church at Cenchrea.[5]

The problem isn’t that there are no women in the NT who ministered as pastors, there are. The problem for some is that Paul, the other letter writers, and the author of Acts, use different terminology for ministers than what most of us are familiar with. And sometimes these authors don’t use any term for someone who is clearly a minister (e.g., the seven men in Acts 6 including Stephen, and Stephanas in 1 Cor. 16:15-18).

Furthermore, many Christians are stuck on the idea that women can’t be church leaders because of a faulty notion of authority. The authority to minister, however, is not an authority over fellow believers, but an authorisation and giftedness from God to function in a certain ministry. Genuine Christian ministry is not about exercising authority over people but about humbly serving them.

Final Thoughts

The church in Jerusalem seems to have been led by men, and also the church in Syrian Antioch. So some may choose to follow that “model.” But as we move north and west from Syria, the names of more and more women ministers pop up, especially in verses about churches in Macedonian and Roman cities. I have no doubt that Phoebe, Prisca, Nympha, and women like them, were influential leaders in their churches.

In one passage, Romans 16:1-16, Paul mentions ten women, seven of whom he describes in some way as ministers: Phoebe, Prisca, Mary, Junia, Tryphena, Tryphosa, and Persis. These women were not called pastors, just as no man in the NT is called a pastor of a church, but at least a few of these, and other NT women, functioned as pastors; they were responsible for the spiritual and physical wellbeing of members in their congregations. There is a biblical case for men and women as church leaders and pastors.


When I use the word “pastor,” I have Ephesians 4.11 in mind. This is the only verse in the Greek New Testament that uses the noun for “pastor” in the context of Christian ministry. I don’t use “pastor” with the ideas of ordination or a church office in mind (these ideas came later) but purely in terms of function. A pastor was someone who had the means and inclination to care for the spiritual and material needs of those in their congregation.

[1] See E.E. Ellis, “Paul and his Coworkers” in Dictionary of Paul and his Letters, editors: Gerald F. Hawthorne and Ralph Martin (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 183.

[2] Episkopoi is sometimes translated as “bishops.” At this early stage of the church, however, it is unlikely these Ephesian episkopoi were bishops with oversight of several congregations in a city or parish.

[3] These ministry roles are mentioned in 1 Timothy 3 and 5.

[4] Paul also mentions his plan of sending Tychicus to Ephesus (Eph. 6:21; 2 Tim. 4:12).

[5] Paul was consistent with how he used the word diakonos. He typically used the word for an agent with a sacred commission. These diakonoi include Paul himself (Rom. 15:25; 1 Cor. 3:5; Eph. 3:7; Col. 1:23, etc), Timothy (1 Tim. 4:6), Epaphras (Col. 1:7), Tychicus (Eph. 6:21-22; Col. 4:7-9), Apollos (1 Cor. 3:5), Phoebe (Rom. 16:1), and even Jesus Christ (Rom. 15:8). The diakonos in Romans 13:4, though not a Christian minister, is also an agent of God with a sacred mission. Note also Paul’s description of false apostles as agents (diakonoi) of Satan with a diabolic commission (2 Cor 11:13-15). And in Galatians 2:17 Paul asks the rhetorical question if Jesus is a diakonos, acting as an agent, of sin. Paul is the only NT author to use the word diakonos for a Christian minister, and the citations I’ve given here, plus Philippians 1:1 and 1 Timothy 3:8-13, are every occurrence of diakonos in his letters. Not once does he the word for ordinary servants.

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Explore more

The First-Century Church and the Ministry of Women
Did Priscilla Teach Apollos?
A List of the 29 People in Romans 16:1–16
Partnering Together: Paul’s Female Coworkers
Here are articles on whether women were elders (presbyteroi), overseers (episkopoi), or deacons (diakonoi), or whether they preached in New Testament times.
Here are articles on various NT women who were ministers and church leaders.
And here are all my articles on 1 Timothy 2:12 (“I do not permit a woman to teach …”)

131 thoughts on “There are Women Pastors in the New Testament

  1. This is a very good and succinct summary. Imma gonna steal it, cause Imma gonna need it soon. 😉

    1. With proper citation, of course. 😉

      1. But of course — after all, it is particularly important that they know that this teaching comes from a woman. 😉

        1. I’m a woman and I disagree with this post! Women were not permitted to preach! The women used in this article were not leading in scripture to preach the word of God. Priscilla and Aquila did pull aside to correct Apollos but they weren’t preaching. I do believe women helped in the ministry but not in the capacity of leading the churches. Their roles were more in an administrative, prayer, prophecy capacities. The Lord gave order however Satan has made it a male/female battle of equality.

          Corinthians 14: 33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
          34 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.
          35 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.

          Also regarding man over woman :1 Corinthians 11: 3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.

          1. You’re welcome to disagree with this post, Safe Haven, but it doesn’t help me if you don’t point out which statements in the article you disagree with. Do you disagree with the terms Paul used for ministry?

            I disagree with your statement about a battle for equality. It is God who made humanity equal (Genesis 1:26-28). I don’t have to battle for equality, I am equal. I am not in any way inferior to other people, male or female.

            Also, taking one or two verses out of context is never a good idea.

            In 1 Corinthians 14:26-40, Paul silences three groups of people in the Corinthian church. He didn’t just silence the women who wanted to learn but who should keep their questions for home. And even though he silenced three groups of unruly speakers, Paul begins and ends this passage by encouraging orderly and edifying speech without specifying gender. See 1 Corinthians 14:26, 39-40.

            And 1 Corinthians 11:3 is not the only thing Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. In 1 Corinthians 11:11-12, he speaks about those who are in the Lord. Paul wanted mutuality for those who are in the Lord, not a hierarchy of status among fellow believers.

            Paul’s overall theology of ministry was, “You have a gift, use it to build up others in the Lord.” He never actually said women can’t “preach.” And the only time he says a woman can’t teach, he was speaking about an Ephesian woman (or perhaps a group of women) who needed to learn (1 Timothy 2:11-12). She wasn’t ready to teach and had to learn quietly and in full submission, the usual conduct of a good student. https://margmowczko.com/1-timothy-212-in-a-nutshell/

            Paul welcomed the ministry of women.

          2. Kephale (head) was not used in Greek to mean “boss” like it does in English. It’s probably a word pun to go with the arguments about covering actual heads and means “source.”
            Also you are importing ideas about “preaching” and leading in church that doesn’t exist in those times. Nowhere is preaching a sermon in church mentioned–preaching refers to announcing the good news to the general public, and has nothing to do with church meetings which were a place for all the believers to share with and encourage each other. We cannot conflate preaching, teaching, and prophesying because they weren’t the same thing, and in Cor 11 we see women are publicly praying and prophesying in the meetings but someone in Corinth is trying to control how they dress. It’s entirely possible that Paul quotes the Corinthians without agreeing with them, amd then says the women have authority over their own head.

          3. You must understand history to understand this verse. Women were not well educated back then. And men set on one side of the so called church and women sat on the other side. Because the women had questions about what was being said, they would yell across the room to ask their husbands questions. Not orderly like God wants it. That’s the history of that scripture.
            Also the head of every man is Christ, and the head of every woman is man you need to go back and read that in context. It’s also the order of marriage. The word says to submit to one another, but the final say should be the husbands.

          4. Hello Christa, I’ll respond to a few of your statements.

            “Women were not well educated back then.”
            As a general statement that is true, but there were some women, such as Priscilla, who knew Christian doctrine very well. She and her husband, who were both close friends of Paul, knew doctrine well enough to correct the theology of Apollos who was highly educated and who was teaching in Ephesus (Acts 18:24-26).

            More about Priscilla here:

            “men sat on one side of the so called church and women sat on the other side.”
            This was true of some, perhaps most, churches in later centuries, but there’s no ancient evidence that men and women were separated in church meetings (or in synagogue meetings) in the first century. Most Christian congregations in the first century were small and met in homes. Some of these house churches were hosted and cared for by a woman.

            More about first-century church life and the contribution of women here:

            “the head of every man is Christ, and the head of every woman is man”
            First, there is no “every” before the word “woman” in 1 Corinthians 11:3. Second, the passage this verse comes from is about the heads, or hair, of the men and women who were praying and prophesying in Corinth; Paul’s concern here was about minstry, not marriage as such. Paul wanted the Corinthian Christians, male and female, who were engaged in spoken ministry to do so in a respectable and orderly fashion.

            More on the context of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 here:

            “the final say should be the husband’s.”
            There is no New Testament verse that says a husband has the final say. The only time the New Testament mentions husbands and wives making a decision, Paul says it should be done by mutual consent (1 Cor. 7:5). Most wives who live normal and healthy lives make many decisions daily in areas that directly affect them and their responsbilities. There’s simply no biblical or spiritual reason why the husband has the final say in big decisions. This is not what Paul meant when he said in Ephesians 5:23 that the husband is the head of his wife.

            More about “head” in Paul’s letters:
            More about the context of 1 Corithians 7:

          5. Thank you…my thoughts too. And I would like to add that this article appears to be one for the people who have itching ears and don’t follow sound doctrine.

          6. I agree. I will never go against God’s written word in the KJV BIBLE.

          7. That’s great Kathryn. This article is about understanding and complying with God’s written word including the English translation in the KJV Bible. This article also looks closely at what the Bible says, including Paul’s actual ministry terms in the original language. There is no verse in the KJV that says women cannot be pastors or preachers or that only men can be pastors or preachers.

          8. As a former ordained female pastor I totally agree with you. A woman pastoring a church goes against God’s order. Can a woman proclam the gospel outside the church? yes. Can a woman fulfill the great commission? Certainly! Can a woman baptize someone she leads to Christ? Yes. Can a woman hold Bible studies in her home for other women? yes she can. Can a woman teach men? no. Can a woman stand in the pulpit and preach to a congregation? no. Can a woman do good works and let her light shine and bring glory to her Heavenly Father? yes! I felt the call of God on my life from the time I was a child and because I had such a desire to serve God I became a preacher then much later took a pastorate. But after reading the writings of Paul to the church at Corinth and to Timothy I came to see that God never intended for women to pastor. Sadly, some will do so anyway and shipwreck the faith of many. Those who try to whitewash it and attempt to make the Bible say something it clearly doesn’t say are in danger of coming under the judgment of God. Unfortunatley those who do so don’t believe in the judgment of God or the need of repentance but only proclaim God’s love and acceptance. How can you call Paul a liar and just sweep his commands under the rug? The Bible isn’t confusing. It is very clear but must be spiritually discerned. Not being a pastor in no way takes anything from women. Women are very important to the body of Christ and Jesus Himself loved women as He did men. It is human nature to grasp for the one thing we are forbidden to have. Be content. The world is your pulpit. Preach the gospel at work, on the bus, in a carpool, at the grocery store or doctor’s office. Be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit and let God use you everywhere you go. But leave the pulpit to the one God called to fill it.

          9. Just to be clear, when Paul mentioned that some in the Ephesian church had “shipwrecked the faith” (1 Tim. 1:18), he mentioned men, not women, namely Hymenaeus and Alexander. In 2 Timothy 2:17-18, Paul mentions Hymenaeus and Philetus as false teachers in Ephesus whose teaching spreads like gangrene. The false teachers in Ephesus were predominately men.

            Nevertheless, Paul tells Timothy that a woman, who needed to learn, was not allowed to teach, or to domineer a man/ husband. She needed to learn and tone down her behaviour (1 Tim. 2:11-12). This is good advice from the apostle.

            Paul addressed the bad behaviour of men and of women in his letters to Timothy.

            Also, there is no verse in the Greek New Testament that says women cannot or must not be pastors or any other kind of minister. This idea is based on people’s interpretations of scripture rather than scripture itself.

          10. The idea that women can not be used to preach is negated by those who God used first to preach the gospel of Jesus. The gospel is the birth, life, death and resurrection of our Lord. It was women whom the angel appeared to giving them the command to tell the disciples (Matthew 28:7). God selected those women to give a word from the Lord. When Jesus later saw his disciples he upbraided (Mark 16:14) them for not believing those He sent to them. Women have been used in every capacity of leadership in scripture (except of priest). Due to most Christian’s’ ignorance of how the government of the nation of Israel was structured, they don’t realize the weight women in the OT carried. As this article explained, the majority don’t realize how the NT church was structured either. Deborah set in Moses’ seat judging the nation. Every town in Israel had judges. Their lowest court required 3 judges to hear a case. 23 were required for capital punishment cases (the lower Sanhedrin). And 71 were required for the great Sanhedrin. The 70 elders plus Moses is where they continued this tradition from. With Deborah judging the nation she sat in the seat of Moses making decisions regarding national and international issues. Men say these women are an exception. I say how many exceptions are needed before we recognize something is not an exception?

          11. People work very hard to dismiss the scriptures you’ve listed but in doing so they forget that women had basically no rights during this time. Women were not even allowed to own properrty , to vote and unfortunately many time were seen as property. I can see women being very important in the church administration , in prayer, laying on hands for healing giving of money and leading what we would call a bible study but would not have been allowed to stand and teach a mixed group of men and women in a synagog type setting. It takes women being involved and active in the church to have a successful ministry. Some people get the importance of roles in a church backwards becuse anyone can preach or teach but without the lions share of the burden on a ministry being handled by women it will not succeede. Most men are horrible at multitasking at administration this happens to be an area that every woman I have ever known handled effortlessly.

          12. Hi Mark, I’ll make three comments.
            First, from ancient census records that still surive, we see that, even though most property owners were men, it was not uncommon for women to own property in their own name.

            Second, in the Greco-Roman world, very few people could vote (except in very local and specific settings). The Roman Empire was not a democracy. There were no general elections.

            Even in countries like the USA, the idea that most men could vote is a relatively new idea.

            The right to vote in the USA began with the Declaration of Independence in 1776, but at first, only white adult male property owners (about 6% of the population) were permitted to vote. In several states Jews, Quakers and/ or Catholics were denied the right to vote and/ or they were forbidden from running for office.

            By 1856, property ownership requirements were eliminated in every US state which allowed most white men to vote, but they had to be tax-payers. Tax-paying requirements remained in five states until 1860 and in two states until the 1900s. In the 1900s, more legislation loosened restrictions further.

            Most men across the globe could not vote for national leaders or for representative in general elections until the mid-1800s (some still can’t). In developed countries, women were typically less than 100 years behind the men regarding the right to vote.

            Third, the concept of equity and human rights is a relatively new idea. People in the ancient world, men and women, boys and girls, did not have human rights, as such. Nevertheless, the idea that many women, but not men, were treated as property is flawed.

          13. AGREE! This is grasping at straws at best.

          14. Safe Haven, You speak scripturally and truth nowhere is it recorded in N.T. does Paul are any other Apostle speak, teach, nor confirm the appointment of any woman usurping authority over a man. I’ve been unable to read where there is a female leader, helper yes, it goes back to the GARDEN OF EDEN, have a Blessed day!

          15. Likewise, James, nowhere in the NT does Paul or any other Apostle speak, teach, or confirm the appointment of any man “usurping authority” (Greek: authentein) over a man. Usurping is bad behaviour for men and for women.

            And if the story in Eden tells us anything, it is that the man needed “help” (Hebrew: ezer). It is not good for the man to be alone and do things on his own.

            Men and women working together, side by side, participating and sharing their gifts and talents in the service of others, including the gift of leadership, is the ideal. Paul understood this and he endorsed the leadership ministries of women such as Priscilla.

    2. What the author does not mention… is that every time Paul addresses a leadership role in the church it is always specifically geared towards men…..
      ** Paul never left a woman in charge of a church he started or had one in a position of authority on any of his missionary journeys…
      **The early church leaders were all men…every one
      **There is no specific record anywhere in the New Testament of a woman leading a church, search for it you won’t find it.

      **A Rabbi was and is a male
      **The High Priest was always a male
      **Jesus only had Male apostles (yes he had woman followers but they were not given authoritative roles…..)
      **When Apollos was corrected they…(both Pricisilla and Aquilla) took him aside and spoke to him in private NOT in a public setting

      1. David, there are some assumptions in your comment that are baseless.

        “Paul never left a woman in charge of a church he started or had one in a position of authority on any of his missionary journeys.” We are only told a few times who Paul left in charge when he moved on. Lydia may have been the main person to care for the church at Philippi when Paul moved on. And Priscilla and Aquila appear to have been the main people to care for the church at Ephesus for a while.

        And who were leaders of the church at Rome if not Priscilla and Aquila? Priscilla is the first Roman who Paul greets in Romans 16. Who was a leader of the church at Laodicea if not Nympha, the only person in Laodicea identified by name?

        “The early church leaders were all men … every one.” “There is no specific record anywhere in the New Testament of a woman leading a church …”
        I’m wondering who you think were the leaders of local churches mentioned in the New Testament. Many of the people mentioned were apostles or Paul’s envoys, such as Timothy and Titus, who came and went. When it comes to local church leadership, there are quite a few women named, as well as men such as Stephanas. In the first century, Priscilla, Phoebe, Euodia, Syntyche, Nympha, and others were leaders in their churches. Women were leaders in churches situated in Roman colonies, more so than in Israel and Syria.

        Christian ministry is service and is open to any gifted and capable person. We are New Covenant people. We are not part of the Old Covenant where ministry was based on physical attributes and ancestry. In the New Covenant, ministry qualifications are spiritual and moral. Christian ministry is open to many more kinds of people than only Jewish rabbis, high priests, or male apostles!

        The Holy Spirit who has been poured out on “all flesh” enables men and women to minister, sometimes as leaders (Acts 2:17-18). And as I say in the article, all the verses that list ministries, including leadership ministries, do not exclude women or hint that they are only for men.

        The authorisation to minster doesn’t change whether one is in a synagogue, a public square, a house church, a jail, a lecture hall, etc. It doesn’t change whether one is indoors or outdoors, or whether it is given in a public space or in a home where many first century congregations met. Paul’s authority didn’t change depending on venue. The same for Philip (e.g., Acts 8:26-40) and Peter (e.g., Acts 10:24-48).

        David, I suggest your view of ministry and being a pastor is too narrow. Like families, churches function better when men and women minister together.

      2. The Prophet was and always was both male and female. What ministry in the church does Paul say is most important and most to be aspired to for EVERYONE? Prophecy. What was prophesied to be the epitome of the New Covenant? Everyone prophesying, both male and female, young and old, slave and free. Prophets preached and taught and reprimanded. Are you going to try to say that Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, and Anna, and Philip’s daughters weren’t authoritative? And how is private teaching less authoritative or potentially problematic than public teaching? It seems you are thinking more institutionally than scripturally.

        All believers are priests and are to minister. Hebrews says, “By now you should all be teachers!” Since all the people you mentioned above had to be Jewish, none of it applies to Gentile believers anyway, nor was the Aaronic priesthood God’s first choice. He wanted all Israel to be priests. Titus and Epaphroditus, and many other apostles Paul trained were Gentile, and he names many female coworkers and commends them, as well as Andronicus and Junia, fellow apostles. And there have always been female apostles (missionaries) down thru church history. (And there were female elders and deacons for the first 3 centuries, before the Catholics deliberately squashed them.) There isn’t anything more authoritative than bringing the Gospel to a new people group and getting scripture into their language. And plenty of male missionaries have used their power unwisely and messed up the church badly. So it’s not like only allowing men is some kind of safeguard against problems.

        The 12 were a special group, intended to be a sign that Jesus was constituting the Kingdom, so of course they needed to be male to match the founders of the 12 Tribes of Israel. What does this have to do with other ministries, even other apostles, when the 12 were a special and distinct group, not to be continued?

        Paul didn’t leave anyone “in charge” in the way tradition would have it. And Jesus forbid even the 12 from exercising “authority over” people. Ministry and leadership isn’t about exercising authority over people. Jesus commanded them to be slaves of all.

      3. Marg did her usual great job in replying. I want to take my shot.

        “What the author does not mention… is that every time Paul addresses a leadership role in the church it is always specifically geared towards men…..”

        It is unclear what you mean by “addresses a leadership role.”

        Taken broadly —

        — It would include Acts 20, where Paul instructs the elders/overseers/shepherds (all three terms are used in the passage). The only mention of the sex of the elders is in regard to the ones Paul prophesied would turn evil, and those were MEN.

        — It would include Rom. 12, where various gifts are listed, and there is no suggestion any are reserved for a particular sex. It may be of some interest that the word “leadership” in 12:8 is a cognate of one of the words used to describe Phoebe in ch. 16 of the same book.

        — It would include 1 Cor. 12, where various gifts, manifestations, etc. are listed. There is no suggestion that any are reserved for a particular sex.

        — It would include Eph. 4, where various gifts are listed, and there is no suggestion that any are reserved for a particular sex.

        — It would include 1 Tim. 3 and Tit. 1, where are listed desirable attributes for elders/overseers for Ephesus and Crete respectively. Contrary to most English translations, nothing in those passages limits those roles to males.

        — It would include Rom. 16, where Paul “addresses,” in the sense of commending or greeting, various leaders, including several women.

        — It would include Col. 4, where Paul “addresses,” in the sense of greeting, Nympha, hostess and thus almost certainly responsible party for the church at Laodicea.

        “** Paul never left a woman in charge of a church he started or had one in a position of authority on any of his missionary journeys…”

        Junia was an apostle. Nympha hosted a house church. Phoebe was a “prostatis.”

        All of those positions involved at least some kind of leadership. (Paul rarely if ever used the term, “authority.”)

        “**The early church leaders were all men…every one”

        This is patently false.

        From just the NT testimony, we can see that Nympha, Junia, Phoebe, Prisca, and many others were “leaders” in various senses.

        Beyond that, Gary Macy (and likely others) have done interesting research showing that for about the first 1100 years of the Church, there was little or no meaningful difference in the “ordination” of men vs. women.

        “**There is no specific record anywhere in the New Testament of a woman leading a church, search for it you won’t find it.”

        Fine. Now show us a “specific record” of a particular *man* “leading a church.”

        But FTR, I believe you are incorrect. I believe the most normal way to understand the greeting to Nympha is to regard her as having responsibility (i.e. “oversight”) for the Laodicean church. And I’m inclined, although somewhat less so, to see John’s “Chosen Lady” as a church overseer.

        “**A Rabbi was and is a male
        **The High Priest was always a male”

        These observations are completely irrelevant. Those offices (for lack of a better word) only existed under the Obsolete Covenant and its Law. That Covenant and Law are no longer in effect.

        “**Jesus only had Male apostles (yes he had woman followers but they were not given authoritative roles…..)”

        This is irrelevant. The original apostles were also all Jews and non-slaves. *At most* their choice would *suggest* (not prove) that only free male Jews could be “apostles.” It would say nothing about who could be teachers, preachers, shepherd-overseer-elders.

        “**When Apollos was corrected they…(both Pricisilla and Aquilla) took him aside and spoke to him in private NOT in a public setting”

        This is irrelevant until and unless you provide explicit evidence that there is some clear rule about when women may and may not instruct men.


        A bit about terminology:

        AFAICT, in the NT, “pastor/shepherd,” in both noun and verb forms, is only associated with two *specific* people: Jesus (multiple times) and Peter (in John 21).

        AFAICT, “overseer/supervisor/bishop,” in both noun and verb forms, is only associated with two *specific* persons in the NT — Jesus (1 Pet. 2:25) and Judas (Acts 1:20).

        “Elder,” AFAICT, is only associated with two *specific* persons in the NT (at least post-Pentecost) — Peter and John.

        So demands to name a “specific” pastor — male or female — are silly.

        1. just a heads up ..

          Nymphas was a man
          Colossians 4:15 NKJV
          [15] Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and the church that is in ‘his’ house.

          Junia was a countrymen
          Romans 16:7 NKJV
          [7] Greet Andronicus and Junia, my ‘countrymen’ and my fellow prisoners,

          Aquila and Priscila
          are husband and wife
          a man is the head of the house

          and anytime Paul was present
          none of these were leaders

          1. Hi mc.

            Nympha: It seems you’re relying on one English translation. Paul wrote in Greek and I’ve looked at the Greek manuscript evidence. Most people, myself included, agree that Nympha was a woman. I’ve written about this here:

            Junia: Junia is a female name. Junius is the masculine equivalent, and that’s not what we have in Romans 16:7. All early and medieval scholars took Junia to be a woman, and most still do today. I look at the early and medieval evidence here.

            Paul describes Andronicus and Junia as suggeneis. Paul uses this Greek word four times in Romans for fellow Jews. Just because the word “countrymen” has the word “men” in it, it doesn’t mean Junia was a man. I’ve written about Paul’s use of suggeneis here:

            Priscilla and Aquila: Paul never refers to Aquila as the head of the house. In the older surviving Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, in four of the six times the couple are named, Priscilla (or Prisca) is named first before her husband. In Paul’s list of 28 Roman Christians who are greeted in Romans 16, Priscilla is listed first. First!
            I’ve written about this here: https://margmowczko.com/list-of-people-in-romans-16_1-16/ (See footnote 2 also.)

            I recommend getting the facts straight before giving a heads-up.

          2. Hi mc.

            The link in my email notification took me directly to your post, and I didn’t notice that Marg had already answered you better before I gathered what follows:

            I generally don’t use the NKJV.

            Here are the relevant notes from the NET regarding Nympha:

            “If the name Nympha is accented with a circumflex on the ultima (Νυμφᾶν, Numphan), then it refers to a man; if it receives an acute accent on the penult (Νύμφαν), the reference is to a woman. Scribes that considered Nympha to be a man’s name had the corresponding masculine pronoun αὐτοῦ here (autou, “his”; so D [F G] Ψ [1505] M), while those who saw Nympha as a woman read the feminine αὐτῆς here (autēs, “her”; B 0278 6 1739[*] 1881 sa). Several MSS (א A C P 075 33 81 104 326 1175 2464 bo) have αὐτῶν (autōn, “their”), perhaps because of indecisiveness on the gender of Nympha, perhaps because they included ἀδελφούς (adelphous, here translated “brothers and sisters”) as part of the referent. The harder reading is certainly αὐτῆς, and thus Nympha should be considered a woman.”

            Here are the relevant NET notes for Junia:

            “tn Or “Junias.”
            sn The feminine name Junia, though common in Latin, is quite rare in Greek (apparently only three instances of it occur in Greek literature outside Rom 16:7, according to the data in the TLG [D. Moo, Romans [NICNT], 922]). The masculine Junias (as a contraction for Junianas), however, is rarer still: Only one instance of the masculine name is known in extant Greek literature (Epiphanius mentions Junias in his Index discipulorum 125). Further, since there are apparently other husband-wife teams mentioned in this salutation (Prisca and Aquila [v. 3], Philologus and Julia [v. 15]), it might be natural to think of Junia as a feminine name. (This ought not be pressed too far, however, for in v. 12 all three individuals are women [though the first two are linked together], and in vv. 9-11 all the individuals are men.) In Greek only a difference of accent distinguishes between Junias (male) and Junia (female). If it refers to a woman, it is possible (1) that she had the gift of apostleship (not the office), or (2) that she was not an apostle but along with Andronicus was esteemed by (or among) the apostles. As well, the term “prominent” probably means “well known,” suggesting that Andronicus and Junia(s) were well known to the apostles (see note on the phrase “well known” which follows).”

            “tn Or “prominent, outstanding, famous.” The term ἐπίσημος (episēmos) is used either in an implied comparative sense (“prominent, outstanding”) or in an elative sense (“famous, well known”). The key to determining the meaning of the term in any given passage is both the general context and the specific collocation of this word with its adjuncts. When a comparative notion is seen, that to which ἐπίσημος is compared is frequently, if not usually, put in the genitive case (cf., e.g., 3 Macc 6:1 [Ελεαζαρος δέ τις ἀνὴρ ἐπίσημος τῶν ἀπὸ τής χώρας ἱερέων “Eleazar, a man prominent among the priests of the country”]; cf. also Pss. Sol. 17:30). When, however, an elative notion is found, ἐν (en) plus a personal plural dative is not uncommon (cf. Pss. Sol. 2:6). Although ἐν plus a personal dative does not indicate agency, in collocation with words of perception, (ἐν plus) dative personal nouns are often used to show the recipients. In this instance, the idea would then be “well known to the apostles.” See M. H. Burer and D. B. Wallace, “Was Junia Really an Apostle? A Re-examination of Rom 16.7,” NTS 47 (2001): 76-91, who argue for the elative notion here.”

            Here are Craig Keener’s notes about Junia from the IVP Bible Background Commentary:

            “Rom 16:3-16 Greetings to Friends in Rome (IVP Background Commentary 2nd Edition)
            Rom 16:7. “Andronicus” is elsewhere attested as a *Hellenistic Jewish name. “Junia” is a Latin nomen that should indicate her Roman citizenship. Against attempts to make “Junia” a contraction of the masculine “Junianus,” this contraction of Junianus is not attested, because that is a Greek form of contraction and Junianus and Junia are Latin names. Ancient Christian readers recognized that Junia was a woman. Because she and Andronicus traveled together without scandal, and singleness was unusual, they were undoubtedly a husband-wife team; husband-wife teams were known in some professions, like doctors and lower-class merchants. The majority of scholars read the Greek phrase as indicating that both were *apostles.”

            The bottom line is that translations vary and scholarly opinion is divided. I happen to believe those translations that recognize both as women, and Junia as an apostle, are more likely correct.

    3. What are qualifications of a pastor or preacher according to the scriptures, David, and you will get your answer. PS. All those women you said where pastors did not exist after Jesus died on the cross. Amen. My suggestion to you, David, would be to study the scriptures, not just read it. God says to study to be approved unto me. Amen. Amen.

      1. Adam Kinlaw, If our intention is to show ourselves approved to God by “rightly dividing” (accurately handling) the word of truth, we should, at the very least, quote the scriptures with accuracy.

        It is Paul who said in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (NKJV).


        I don’t know what women you are referring to Adam. Did David mention any women?

        Norrin Radd and I mentioned a few women who were alive when Jesus was alive or shortly afterwards. Angela mentioned Old and New Testament women.

      2. It seems as if you left this comment without having actually read the post and the rest of the comments in this thread.

        As Marg mentioned below, there are many citations referring to women ministering and leading in the early church as well as in the pre-christian era — and it seems they are doing so with the approval of God.

        The title “Pastor” isn’t quite as cut and dried as it may seem to you. That affects how we should negotiate our present understanding and application of the “qualifications.”

        Please read widely and closely of the material Marg, Norrin, Angela and others present on this site (not just this article and comment thread). Read with an open mind, allowing for the possibility that you just might (just MIGHT) not have a whole picture in view. You may still not be convinced, but your convictions will be based on better understanding.

        Either way, I think we both still have this in common; we love and give our allegiance to our Lord Jesus the Messiah. May his Spirit guide us both into greater knowing of him and his love.

  2. Fantastic, as always, Marg!

    1. Thanks, James!

  3. “The authority to minister, however, is not an authority over fellow believers, but an authorisation and giftedness from God to function in a certain ministry. ”

    This succinctly cuts to the heart of the issue. I was raised in a denomination that firmly held that women couldn’t be ordained, yet the entire Sunday School was administered and almost entirely staffed by women.
    When we recognize the inconsistencies, we need to act on that.

    1. This also spoke to me – it literally sent a chill down my spine as I read it!
      As is often the case – the “thing” being debated isn’t really the key. Indeed this has a a lot to do with the inappropriate grasp of power by males.
      Thanks Marg for your amazing work!

      1. Thanks, Pat and Alex. I had a conversation two days ago that I cut short because the person kept insisting that ministry was about authority over people. There was no common ground. 🙁

        1. I so appreciate your thorough research on such important Biblical topics. AND you present it in such a loving way. I come from a family where women were put down, condescending to, and even used and abused. I’ve had to fight resentment and the urge to fight fire with fire. So your example in all of your writings is very encouraging.

      2. The pernicious fascination with “authority” is bizarre.

        They will talk about “servant-leaders” and how the Bible says “the first shall be last,” but they behave as if “serving” is only stepping-stone to get into a position of authority.

        They’ll talk about “head” pastors, and about husbands being the “head” of the household (which is not even what Scripture says), and remark cutely that “anything with two heads is a monster,” impervious to the fact that the “authority” metaphor of “headship” was much less common in that culture.

  4. Excellent. I especially like that you mentioned how we misunderstand authority to minister as “authority over.” I am so happy others are pointing this important missing piece out. If you know of others doing it, please mention them. I only know of Eddie Hyatt in Pursuing Power.

    1. I’m certain I’ve seen many others mention this basic premise. I’ll pay more attention and look for specific references in my reading. I’ve written about authority in the church a few times. https://margmowczko.com/tag/authority/

    2. I mean, the idea of “serving” is right there in the word, “minister”!

      1. Yep. Ministry is service, service is ministry.

    3. Wade Burleson, a teaching pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid, Oklahoma, USA, has been teaching a series on Fraudulent Authority. He has previously published a book of the same title. A quote from his Notes for the first lesson: “ It’s never easy to resist a form of control that comes in the name of God, but Fraudulent Authority will help you consider whether or not the pastor or church leader with whom you serve wrongly believes he “rules over” you. There are a few basic principles which serve as the foundation for the study.
      Principle 1: There is only one head of the Church/churches, and all authority is His….”
      The videos of the lessons and a page or two of his Notes for each lesson are here: https://emmanuelenidarchive.org/fraudulent-authority/
      At least one more lesson remains to be posted, from last Wednesday.

      1. Thanks for this Bob!

        Authority in the church is something Wade and I have talked about previously. I have a video of him on my site here: https://margmowczko.com/wade-burleson-christian-leadership-hebrews-13/

  5. “Furthermore, many Christians are stuck on the idea that women can’t be church leaders because of a faulty notion of authority…Genuine Christian ministry is not about exercising authority over people but about humbly serving them.”

    This, a thousand times!

    I really appreciate your thorough work on the biblical texts. I get frustrated when I try to explain that our modern view of a ‘pastor’ isn’t in the Bible, but you’ve discussed it succinctly and clearly. Thank you. It’s a necessary and shareable article.

    1. It’s hard trying to explain quickly that first-century church life was different from church life today. One thing is the same, however; just like today, there was a variety of ways that congregations organised worship and ministry.

  6. Margaret, Thank you for your insights and your common sense. It is very hard to understand how certain Christians (1) can continue to insist upon imposing their spiritual, mental and social abuse; their gender injustice and their subjugation of Lutheran women to being second-class Christians and (2) can claim exemption from the requirements of our Government’s carefully, crafted Social and Sexual Anti-discrimination Legislation. Many of your Readers are very grateful to you, for persevering in your efforts to articulate and to promote human gender equality and equity; equal opportunity and basic human rights and dignity to all humans and including those who were born as females. Keep up your good work. It is still much needed!

    1. Thanks John!

  7. I always enjoy reading your insights.

    Do you think that authority to minister can sometimes imply authority over other believers if the ministry itself is in some way an authoritative position (like a leader or overseer)? Does anyone ever have authority of another believer?

    1. Hi Gareth, It’s a busy day. I’ll get back to you. In the meantime, you may want to look at this. https://margmowczko.com/authority-in-the-church/

      1. Thanks Marg, I have since read that post and many of the comments. Great discussion! It does make clearer.

        I wonder if there is a philosophy genius out there who can help tease-out the relationship between the two aspects of authority. I often have these ideas in my head but it is not until a brilliant mind states them plainly that I say “yeah, that’s what my brain was trying to think!”

        1. I do think there’s a blurry line sometimes. But it would be a great start if we can lose the unhealthy obsession with hierarchical authority (or, “authority over”) that many Christians have.

        2. The question for believers would be is there ANY godly meaning of authority that maps to what the church has promoted for 1800 years about “authority over”. Are we just reading our religious understanding back into scripture? Considering what God said about not setting a king over them and why,

          I don’t know how it is for Australians, but I have trouble figuring out why Americans have difficulty with this concept. We make a big deal about government officials being our employees and public servants and we should throw them out if they misbehave even though Paul says more about submitting to them than to church leaders. But in the church it’s absolute monarchy and oligarchy, and if you criticize someone who is abusing people God will smite you rather than the perpetrator! Absolute power corrupts absolutely and we see it every day.

  8. Jesus forbid apostles from exercising authority over others. They were to serve. I don’t see how anyone else can be more authoritative than them! We don’t do things in a Biblical way nowadays, so believers may be in organizations where one has positional and supervisory authority over another. But that doesn’t have to be equated with the creepy religious idea that someone has spiritual authority over you because they are ordained, or a pastor/elder, or male, or whatever. Jesus is your spiritual authority.

    1. Yes, Jesus gave his disciples authority to do things and he gave them authority over demons, but he didn’t give them authority over people.

      Jesus didn’t use words like “lead” or “govern” when giving instructions to the Twelve. He mostly used words like “serve” and “witness.” (More here.)

      “The authority to function as a Christian minister is the commission to serve as a slave.” (From here.)

  9. I find it interesting that you found I Timothy 2:7, but missed the 8 verses that make up the rest of the chapter. I find myself very curious regarding your interpretation of verses 11 and 12, which seem quite straightforward.

    I hadn’t seen the original Greek in Romans 16:2, which I found interesting and worth noting, but given Paul’s very clear context (which I notice you completely ignored in the majority of references, where it didn’t serve your points) and explicit statements on the roles of men and women towards each other, I find it highly likely that, as a deaconess, Pheobe’s service would have been primarily directed towards the women in her local church.

    1. Here are my articles on 1 Timothy 2:11-15, complete with context: https://margmowczko.com/category/1-timothy-212/

      It is highly unlikely Phoebe only ministered to women. Paul says that Phoebe’s ministry as prostatis was to many, including Paul himself. And Paul was a man.

      But you’re right that Phoebe wasn’t a deaconess. Paul doesn’t not use the word diakonissa (“deaconess”) for her. He calls her diakonos (“minister, deacon”) of the church at Cenchrea. He doesn’t say she was diakonos of the women in Cenchrea.

      Furthermore, as I say in the article, Paul uses the same word diakonos for himself. It’s his word. Paul is the only New Testament author to use this word for agents with a sacred commission, especially Christian ministers. He uses the word consistently in that context.

      My articles on Phoebe are here: https://margmowczko.com/category/phoebe/ And I have a chapter about her in this book: https://www.mohrsiebeck.com/en/book/deacons-and-diakonia-in-early-christianity-9783161566462

      The blog post on this page is about women who functioned as pastors in New Testament churches, it is not a comprehensive essay, but what context do you think is missing in the article?

      Perhaps you’re not understanding the context of first-century church life where, especially in churches associated with the apostle Paul, men and women ministered according to their gifts, abilities, and resources, and only bad speech and behaviour are silenced and prohibited by Paul.

      I have more on Paul’s theology of ministry here:

    2. Marg has elsewhere written fairly extensively on 1 Tim. 2. You may be interested in this page: https://margmowczko.com/category/1-timothy-212/

      As to Rom.16, I’m not sure what about the context, which includes a female apostle named Junia, would require that Phoebe minister mainly toward women, especially since the context is likely that of a “letter of commendation” citing her qualifications to carry, deliver, and explain (to everyone, not just women) the contents of the Epistle, and since her other title, “prostatis,” is a term that at least *can* indicate leadership, and is cognate to “proistemi,” “lead” or “leadership” in 12;8 of the same Epistle.

  10. I understand the context quite well, and regardless of how many essays or books you’ve written, there’s only so much you can twist a few words in a handful of verses. It’s pretty clear you’ve made up your mind about what the Bible says, though, regardless of the actual words on the page, and invested quite a bit of your career in perpetuating that belief. I’m not sure why I thought there might be room for an actual discussion with such blind commitment. Forgive my intrusion, I’ll leave you to… whatever you feel happy about believing, apparently.

    1. It looks like we’ve been talking about the biblical context of Romans 16 and Paul’s actual words. And I’m glad you understand this, TL. Though I notice you didn’t respond to the content of my or Norrin’s comments.

      Yes, there is room for discussion, especially constructive conversations. Isn’t that what we were doing? Though your last comment doesn’t feel like a discussion. Also, what career?!

      I responded to your first comment in good faith with my real name.

      Anyway, bye TL. I wish you well.

  11. Now then, there is the parade, and that was a nice a procession as I’ve ever read on the topic, but yet and still, there is the rain. In this case, a massive thunderstorm that can’t be explained away.

    “The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church. [NASB: 1995 update. (1995). (1 Co 14:34–35). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.]

    But these days, who needs the Law.

    1. Hi Dave, It’s interesting that you refer to the examples of women who were ministers in the church as “rain” and two verses where Paul prohibits problem speech from women in two churches as a “thunderstorm.” In real life, thankfully, there are usually few thunderstorms compared with occurrences of much-needed rain.

      Note that Paul addresses problem speech and problem behaviour of men and of women in 1 Corinthians 14:26-40 and 1 Timothy 2:8-15. No one is explaining these passages away. In fact, I highlight these passages many times.

    2. You’re right, Dave, for those of us who are part of the New Covenant, who *does* need the Law? It’s inextricably tied to the Obsolete Covenant, and Paul observed that life under the Law was a curse (Gal. 3), and that every decree, ordinance, and commandment had been nullified and even destroyed on the cross for those in Christ (Eph. 2, Col. 2).

      I’m curious, Dave: Where exactly does “the Law” say what “Paul” claims it says there in 1 Cor. 14:34?

      And given the emphatic phrasing, how did “Paul” in the space of just a few chapters, forget that he expected women to NOT be silent back in ch. 11?

  12. While I do agree women can be leaders in the church and as very valuable members of a congregation, there seems to be a constant fast and loose use of text and at times a jump in logic to promote female pastorialship which just isn’t there in the text.

    I thank you for writing this piece because I’ve been doing a lot of research to understand both sides of this theological disagreement and you’ve presented a case that’s worth studying. However I will say, as a new Christian, it’s concerning to see the text being used in such a fast and loose way such as to present the argument of Priscilla teaching Apollos while leaving out the context of her teaching alongside her husband (covering) and teaching in private (not pastoring or acting in a role as a bishop from what we can see).

    It also seemed interesting that the word bishop was never used directly in the article since we have a definition of bishop and elders from Paul available in Timothy and elsewhere. It seemed intentional but only God knows the reasoning for that so regardless this was well written however I firmly disagree with the conclusion because it just doesn’t align with the text. And as James says not all should be teachers so this is definitely a warning we all should accept with humility knowing God is Holy Holy Holy and if we know to do right and don’t do it we are in trouble. .

    God bless you Marg

    1. Hi Brandon, I agree that a “female pastorialship” isn’t in the biblical text. So why mention it? (“Male pastorialship” is also not in the New Testament.) I do not use the word, or refer to the concept of, pastorialship.
      That is your word and it may be your concern, but it’s not mine. My article is about the women who functioned as pastors in first-century churches, especially those associated with the apostle Paul.

      I’ve been careful with the terms I’ve used in the article, drawing attention to the terms Paul used in his letters.

      Prisca and Aquila are always mentioned together in the New Testament, usually with Prisca’s name mentioned first. I mentioned Aquila only once in the article because my focus was on women who functioned as pastors, not on male pastors such as Aquila.

      We don’t know how private or public Priscilla and Aquila’s correction of Apollos was. The Greek verb proslambanō used in Acts 18:26 can mean “receive into one’s home” (where Priscilla and Aquila’s church met) and “take along/ take aside.” Their correction was certainly known well enough for the story to be related to Luke who included it in Acts. More on this here: https://margmowczko.com/at-home-with-priscilla-and-aquila/
      And what does it matter if it was public or private? Luke doesn’t make an issue of it one way or the other.

      I have no doubt that Prisca and Aquila, who were clearly capable of correcting an eminent and educated visiting teacher, taught on many occasions, especially as they held church meetings in their own home and were recognised as being close friends of the apostle Paul. The three had lived, worked and travelled together. I’ve written more about Priscilla and Aquila teaching Apollos here: https://margmowczko.com/did-priscilla-teach-apollos/
      But again, the emphasis is on Prisca because no one has a problem with Aquila teaching Apollos, even though it is Priscilla’s name that is listed first in the oldest Greek texts of Acts 18:26.

      There’s no hint whatsoever that Prisca was under some kind of covering. The concept of “covering” is an odd doctrine that has arisen from a distortion of a couple of Bible verses. There is no verse in the New Testament that indicates a minister, male or female, needs some kind of “covering” from another person. Is this an example of a “fast and loose use of the text”?

      I mention overseers twice in the article. I have articles on overseers (episkopoi), sometimes translated as “bishop,” here: https://margmowczko.com/pauls-qualifications-for-church-leaders/
      And here: https://margmowczko.com/manage-household-1-timothy-34/

      I mention elders three times in the article. I have articles on elders here: https://margmowczko.com/women-elders-new-testament/
      And here: https://margmowczko.com/elders-in-new-testament/

      James gives an important warning that not all should be teachers. Paul, however, encouraged gifted and capable men and women to bring a teaching and to exercise other speaking ministries in church meetings, as long as it was done in an orderly and edifying manner (1 Cor. 14:26: Col. 3:16).

      All of Paul’s general instructions on ministry includes women (e.g., Rom. 12:6-7; 1 Cor. 12:1ff; Eph. 4:11). Paul only censured and put restrictions on unruly, unedifying, and bad ministry from both men and women.

      You may be interested in the thoughts of these men: https://margmowczko.com/prominent-biblical-scholars-on-women-in-ministry/ Do they play “fast and loose” with the biblical text?

      I also recommend this new article by Rev Dr Michael Bird: https://michaelfbird.substack.com/p/inerrancy-culture-wars-and-hermeneutics

  13. This a tired argument. There is no biblical case for female bishops or senior pastors. In 1 Tim 3:3, 4)”Paul is uses the word episkopoi: (bishop), “”office of overseer…the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.

    It is possible for women to be teachers, ministers and helpers( diakonoi) but not “leaders” or “bishops.”

    1. Rory, your response is lazy and flawed.

      There is nothing in the New Testament that states women were forbidden from overseeing, hosting, and caring for local churches. Rather there is evidence that some women, such as Prisca and Nympha, did just that.

      My articles on 1 Timothy 3 are here: https://margmowczko.com/category/1-timothy-3/

      What is tiring is being “corrected” by someone who hasn’t bothered to read or engage with the article and who arrogantly presumes they have superior knowledge.

      “Helpers” shows a poor understanding of Paul’s use of diakonoi.

      Diakonos is Paul’s word for a minister, an agent with a sacred commission. Here are all the diakonoi Paul identifies in his letters: Paul himself (Rom. 15:25; 1 Cor. 3:5; Eph. 3:7; Col. 1:23, etc), Timothy (1 Tim. 4:6), Epaphras (Col. 1:7), Tychicus (Eph. 6:21-22; Col. 4:7-9), Apollos (1 Cor. 3:5), Phoebe (Rom. 16:1), and even Jesus Christ (Rom. 15:8). More in footnote 5.

      Paul identifies no one as an episkopos (“overseer, supervisor, bishop”). Nevertheless, if we take our blinkers off, we see some men and women in the New Testament functioning as such.

      Rory, simply stating, “There is no biblical case for female bishops or senior pastors” doesn’t make it so. However, my article discusses first-century ministry, not anachronistic ideas and titles of church leadership. (See, for example, footnote 2.) And you haven’t even been bothered to point out which point is the supposedly “tired argument” and why it is incorrect in your view.

      1. I prefer the translation “guardian” which has no connotations of slave-master, and taps into the shepherd metaphor better. A shepherd’s primary duties are guarding against wolves, sheep wandering off and/or hurting themselves, and tending the wounded. These are all stereotypical mothering duties as well as fatherly ones.

        And I think scripture is pretty clear on there being a team of elders, not the ‘senior pastor” or “lone bishop” model. And the team of elders needs both women and men because there are both women and men in the church. The idea that the church can make up an anti-christ model like “senior pastor” which is nowhere in the NT, and implement it for 1700 years and that’s fine– in fact if you dare question it you will be excommunicated, but woman elders are anathema because they aren’t definitively mentioned! Double standard anyone?

        1. “I prefer the translation ‘guardian’ which has no connotations of slave-master, and taps into the shepherd metaphor better.”

          Or perhaps “one who watches over,” like the “overwatch” role in the military. That captures the same essence, while being a bit more literal.

      2. I’ve been meandering along for a bit, casting glances in your general vicinity, but not really “following.” Just maybe accompanying. Getting updates, and so on.
        HOWEVER: the fact that your post of May 9 is STILL generating comments, and that YOU are taking the time and energy to respond to those comments, is so impressive that I just signed up as a Patreon.
        Lowest level, of course; the one where you don’t get a tattoo.

        1. 😀 Thank you, Pat. Your support is much appreciated!

          I frequently reply to comments on older articles.

          1. What about in Titus ch 1 and ch 2 Paul writes the qualifications of a Bishop has anyone read this?

          2. Hello Veronica, I’ve written about the qualifications for overseers (episkopoi) in 1 Timothy 3 and elders (presbyteroi) in Titus 1 here:

            And I’ve written about Titus 2 here:

            As I say in the article,

            The apostle Paul doesn’t identify anyone in his letters as a pastor, or as a local church elder or overseer. His favourite terms for fellow ministers are (in descending order): coworker, brother/ sister, diakonos (“minister/ deacon”), and apostolos (“apostle/ missionary”). He also uses “labourer/ labour” words when referring to identified ministers. Paul uses these terms for men such as Timothy and Silas, and for women such as Prisca, Euodia, Syntyche, Phoebe, Junia, Persis, Apphia, etc.

          3. There Are no women named pastor in the Bible? The qualifications are plainly written. Who is to be a pastor what you are doing? You are adding and you are taking away from the Bible. The qualifications for a pastor is specifically speaking of a special man. Not any man put a special man.

          4. Reginald, as I say in the article, “The apostle Paul doesn’t identify anyone in his letters as a pastor, or as a local church elder or overseer.”

            No person, male or female, apart from Jesus, is named or identified as a “pastor” (Greek: poimēn) in the New Testament. I’ve written about this point here: https://margmowczko.com/women-pastors-in-the-new-testament/

            And I’ve written about the moral qualifications for overseers (1 Timothy 3) and elders (Titus 1) here:
            These qualifications, in the Greek, do not say that women cannot or must not be overseers or elders or pastors.

            The only times Paul says that someone, or a group of people, shouldn’t be doing or saying something is when he is responding to bad behaviour such as disorderly conduct and/or poor teaching in Corinth and in Ephesus, etc.

            Your complaint here is general: “You are adding and you are taking away from the Bible.” Can you be more specific about what I have added or taken away from the Bible?

      3. Just a question to add to the discussion.

        Based on 1 Corinthians 11:3 which states
        “ But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.”


        Ephesians 5:24: “Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”


        1 Timothy 3: 4-5: “[Bishop must be] One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)“


        Hebrews 13:11: “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”

        If a woman has a husband, according to the scriptures mentioned amongst others, how can she pastor at church and have her husband submit to her, in the confines of the assembly, and it be seen as scriptural? If a wife is suppose to submit at all times, how can her husband submit to her sometimes?

        1. Hi John, Just as all Christians are to be humble, meek, and loving, all followers of Jesus are to be submissive to one another (Eph.5:21; 1 Pet.5:5 NKJV). Mutual submission is the ideal. I’ve written about this here.

          Here’s another scenario. Children are told to obey their parents (Eph. 6:1-3; Col. 3:20; cf. Mark 7:10). This means that a son is to obey his father and his mother. There are plenty of sons who are pastors where their parents are church members with no issue.

          In the first-century Greco-Roman world, all children—including, or especially, adult children—were expected to obey their parents. (Even pagan authors encouraged their adult male readers to obey their fathers and mothers.) In some cultures today, we still see that adult children are expected to be obedient to their parents. More on this here.

          The words “rule” and “ruleth” in the translations you’ve provided don’t convey the best sense of the Greek behind these words. In modern English, the verb “rule” can mean to exercise ultimate power, control, or authority over people. This is not how Jesus wanted his followers to be led and ministered to. (I’ve written about this here.

          Christian ministry is about serving others not ruling others.

          I’ve written about the word proistēmi used in 1 Timothy 3:4-5, as well as Romans 12:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:12; 1 Timothy 3:4, 5, 12; 5:17; Titus 3:8, 14 here.

          A different Greek word from 1 Timothy 3:4-5 is used in Hebrews 13:7, 17, and 24. “Those leading you” or simply “your leaders” (rather than, “them that have the rule over you”) is a better and perfectly reasonable translation of each occurrence of this word hēgeomai (and the following pronoun = “your”) in Hebrews 13.

          And here’s all my stuff on 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 which contains verse 3 that you quoted: https://margmowczko.com/category/1-corinthians-11-2-16/

        2. Hi John.

          1) Marg has written a fair amount on 1 Cor. 11, most recently just a few days ago here: https://margmowczko.com/1-corinthians-112-16-meaning/

          The relevant point for this discussion is that in context, it is unlikely “head” had anything to do with hierarchy or authority.

          2) At the very least, Eph. 5:24 cannot be as absolute as it sounds, else it would contradict 5:21, which teaches that every Christian is to submit to every other Christian — including husbands to wives.

          3) The CEB more accurately handles the Greek of 1 Tim. 3. Here are verses 1-5:

          1Tim 3:1 This saying is reliable: if anyone has a goal to be a supervisor in the church, they want a good thing.
          1Tim 3:2 So the church’s supervisor must be without fault. They should be faithful to their spouse, sober, modest, and honest. They should show hospitality and be skilled at teaching.
          1Tim 3:3 They shouldn’t be addicted to alcohol or a bully. Instead they should be gentle, peaceable, and not greedy.
          1Tim 3:4 They should manage their own household well—they should see that their children are obedient with complete respect,
          1Tim 3:5 because if they don’t know how to manage their own household, how can they take care of God’s church?

          It is worth noting that when pronouns and idiomatic expressions are translated accurately, overseers / supervisors can be of either sex.

          4) Heb. 13:11 is no problem, though of course those who are in the position of leadership should be mindful of Matt. 20:25. In general, shepherds are to be servant-leaders, not mini-kings.

          Your closing question turns entirely on the citation from Ephesians 5, and when the context of that citation is considered, the citation loses its force.

        3. Right ✅️

          1. Did you even read the other replies to John? 🙂

      4. I may have asked this before, but my Greek is a bit rusty.

        Is there *any* Greek phrase that can be rendered “spouse of one spouse” in a non-gendered way? Wouldn’t “man of one woman” be a generic way of saying this? Much like if you have a group of female friends: in Spanish that would be “amigas”. But if one man friend joins the group the word takes the masculine ending “amigos”. So, if I saw the word “amigos” I could *not* assume this was a group of male friends–it *could* include females.

        I am wondering if the same would be true with the phrase *man of one woman* (husband of one wife)–if it were a mixed group.

        1. Phil Payne supports your thought in the relevant chapters of his “Man and Woman — One in Christ.” More recently, Andrew Bartlett does likewise in “Men and Women in Christ.” Bartlett makes considerable use of Payne’s work, as well as his personal interactions with Payne.

          Specifically, assuming I recall correctly, “one-woman man” could refer either to males or be used inclusively, and one would look to other clues in the context to determine which was intended; in the context of 1 Tim. 3 and Tit. 1, all the nouns and pronouns referring to episkopos and presbuteros are neuter, which suggests one-woman man is used inclusively of both men and women. In 1 Tim. 5, the related term one-man woman is used for the case where women are specifically intended.

        2. Hi Darryl,

          Chrysostom, a native and educated Greek speaker, took μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἀνήρ (“one-woman man”) in 1 Timothy 3:12 as applying to male and female deacons: “This must be understood therefore to relate to deaconesses [women diakonoi]. For that order is necessary and useful and honourable in the Church” (Chrysostom, Homilies on 1 Timothy, Homily XI).

          As for other terminology, this is something I’ve looked into but I’m not 100% confident of my findings. Even the Greek word μονόγαμος (“monogamous person”) was used for men and not for women (that I can make out). And I can’t find evidence for this Greek word before the second century AD.

          See my reply to Dana here for more details: https://margmowczko.com/pauls-qualifications-for-church-leaders/#comment-62050

        3. Norrin Radd, The noun episkopos (“supervisor, overseer”) and adjective presbyteros (elder) are grammatically masculine, and if there were pronouns associated with these words in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, they would be masculine also. They wouldn’t be neuter.

          I don’t think there are any neuter pronouns in 1 Timothy 3:1-7. I know for sure there are no masculine personal pronouns in this passage (except for one in the Textus Receptus) because I’ve checked. But even if there were, the masculine grammatical gender doesn’t necessarily exclude women.

          This is part of footnote 2 from here: https://margmowczko.com/pauls-qualifications-for-church-leaders/

          “Even if there were masculine personal pronouns in the Greek of this passage, this still would not rule out the possibility that women can be overseers. There are a few grammatically masculine articles, adjectives and participles in 1 Timothy 3:1ff and Titus 1:6ff, but since the masculine gender is the default grammatical gender when speaking about groups consisting of men only and groups consisting of men and women, a case cannot be made that these passages exclude women. If we begin to argue that passages that use grammatically masculine participles, etc, exclude women, then women would be excluded from many of the New Testament scriptures which speak about salvation, including John 3:16.”

          1. Yep. Going from memory, I said “neuter,” which was going way too far. Payne and Bartlett say, as you do, “no masculine pronouns.”

    2. I’m curious — Can you point to anyone in the NT specifically called a “pastor” or “shepherd” (in the sense of church leadership) other than Jesus Himself? Same question for episkopos.

      Are you sure you didn’t confuse “diakonos” with “prostatis” when you said, “helper”? Phoebe held both titles. “Prostatis” in particular suggests some degree of leadership.

      1. I’m not sure that Rory will see your comment.

        It’s not unusual for overconfident people to leave half-baked comments and not check back for responses. It seems they think their comment is a fait accompli.

        1. I know. Wasn’t counting on a reply. Based on the depth of thought evident in his post, I figured he was probably a toss-a-firecracker-and-run sort.

          I replied just in case it turns out he’s interested in real interaction.

  14. I am so glad that I found you!

    1. Hi Cheryl. I’m glad you found me too. And thank you for sponsoring my work!

  15. Thank you, Marg! Well-written and reasoned. I have often found it interesting that so much has been made over the concepts of “Pastor”, “Lead Pastor”, “Preacher”, and “Clergy” when it is clear from reading the New Testament and the NT narratives the concepts attached to pastor, preacher, teacher, etc. have really little in common with the modern view of these roles.

    We have, in effect, created an entire authoritative template throughout the years and have read the Bible through this template: a template that is foreign to Paul. Even the concept of “preaching” (as you pointed out) is actually public proclamation of the gospel generally in the market-place (evangelistically) and not the gatherings. Paul’s “preaching until midnight” is a completely different word than what is typically translated “preaching”. It is the word from where we derive the English word “dialogue”. So, one could argue that Paul was involved in a give-and-take discussion in Troas rather than “authoritative preaching” (whatever *that* is!)!

    1. I agree, Darryl. There are a few words we use differently from how the authors of the New Testament used them and we make them fit with our own version of church rather than try to see how first-century churches functioned.

      And some authors, such as Luke, used several different words for disseminating the Christian message.

      The following is an incomplete list of words used in the New Testament to describe the transmission and teaching of the gospel and Christian doctrine:

      parrēsiazomai means “speak openly, boldly or freely”;
      peithō means “persuade”;
      martureō means “testify” or “bear witness”;
      legō or laleō simply means “speak,” “talk,” or “tell”;
      dialegomai means “discuss,” “reason,” or “dispute”;
      parakaleō means “exhort” or “encourage”;
      kēryssō means “proclaim” or “preach”;
      euaggelizomai means “proclaim the good news or gospel”;
      nouthetō means “admonish,” “warn,” or “exhort”;
      ektithēmi means “put forth” or “explain”;
      disdaskō means “teach”; etc.
      There are also verbs with an aggel– stem and with different prefixes (one occurrence in the New Testament with no prefix) that mean “report” or “announce,” etc.
      From here: https://margmowczko.com/did-priscilla-teach-apollos/

      1. Wow, Marg! How perfect! I have wanted such a list!

    2. It really is rather discomfiting to realize how much we assume, and how much of our own experiences we unconsciously eisegete into Scripture every time we read it.

  16. Well said!

  17. ” Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. ” -2 Timothy 2:11-14

    1. I’m assuming you quote these verses because you disagree with something in the article. This is a lazy response, Rachel. It’s also a textbook case of proof-texting which is an unhealthy way of using the Bible. You didn’t even cite the verses properly; you’ve quoted from First Timothy, not Second Timothy.

      Why stop at verse 14? And why not begin at 1 Timothy 2:8?

      In 1 Timothy 2:8-15 Paul addresses problem behaviour from certain people in the Ephesian church:
      ~ angry quarrelling men (plural) 1 Timothy 2:8.
      ~ rich overdressed women (plural) 1 Timothy 2:9-10.
      ~ a woman (singular) who needed to learn and not teach, and not domineer a man (singular). She needed to settled down. 1 Timothy 2:11-12.
      Paul emphasises hesuchia, a Greek word he uses at the beginning and end of these verses 11-12, which means to be calm and settled.

      These verses in 1 Timothy 2 are not Paul’s general teaching on ministry. But if you’d bothered to read the article and if you had a broad grasp of scripture, you’d know that.

      Verses 13-15 may well be Paul giving Timothy information to correct her faulty teaching and domineering behaviour.

      I take 1 Timothy 2:8-15 literally, and nothing in this passage says women cannot serve as pastors. Paul valued women who pastored and cared for congregations, often in their own homes. Shame on you, Rachel, for misappropriating Holy Writ and using it to restrict the service of your sisters.


  18. What do we do with the whole “women should be silent” in the church thing then? It’s clear women DO function in the church, but it still seems hazy to me about the whole leadership idea.

    1. Hi Rachel, As with 1 Timothy 2, we read 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 in context: the context of the immediate passage and the context of the entire letter.

      Paul silences three groups of speakers in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, not just women with questions that could keep for home. And he begins and ends this passage by encouraging orderly, edifying speech without specifying gender in any way.

      I have a shortish article on 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 here:

      Furthermore, Paul acknowledges that women pray and prophesy in church meetings in Corinth, they are speaking and he doesn’t silence them. But he does tell women, and the men, who were speaking, to wear their hair in socially respectable hairstyles (1 Cor. 11:5, 15). Some believe Paul is speaking about head coverings here.

      A shortish article on 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 here:

      We also need to have some understanding of what first-century churches were like. Most were house churches, and in this setting, gifted women ministered and led.

      A short article on the culture of first-century church life is here:

      And a longer article on first-century churches is here:

      Paul never says women cannot be church leaders. No verse in the Bible says that women cannot be church leaders.

      Here’s a list of New Testament women who were prominent ministers and leaders in their churches:

  19. If God calls a woman to be a minister, who has the authority to say she shouldn’t be allowed? This seems more political than Biblical. I have heard some women ministers preach that I don’t believe they would be doing so if God hadn’t called them.

    1. I think you’re right, Tom.

      In many instances the resistance against women serving as teachers, pastors, and leaders in Christian communities, churches, is political. And the resistance is exacerbated by flawed interpretations of a few verses and not understanding how first-century churches functioned.

    2. It’s kind of a presupposition thing. If you’re convinced that a few Scriptures “clearly” and absolutely prohibit women from teaching men, then you’ll believe that God will never call them to do that, and they’re deceived if they believe they have such a calling.

      And some of them get really dug in to that perspective and view any other handling of those passages as “twisting” or “negating” Scripture. They often won’t even charitably and seriously consider other translations or interpretations.

  20. I have a Woman Pastor, preacher, leader, Shepard and whatever other English word you want to use. I thank God for her daily! Don’t get lost in the natural! Hopefully, male and female pastors rely on the Holy Spirit to teach. As for me I will serve the Lord. Is the Holy Spirit different in a woman than a man? Hopefully you say No…. Thank you Marg for outstanding study to show thyself approved

  21. I like how you use specific versions of the Bible to fit your narrative.

    But the vast majority of versions flat out disagree with you. For example, of the ~50 or so bible versions on BibleGateway in regards to Romans 16:1…

    About 43 of them call Phoebe a servant or helper or deaconess. Not a minister.

    You also assume Prisca (Priscilla) was directly involved in “teaching” Apollos. The Bible simply says Aquila and his wife (Acts 18:2) took him aside (away from the temple) and spoke to him there. We know nothing about what was said or who said it.

    I won’t go into much more because I’m sure you’ll use an obscure version to argue with it and lots of assumptions but scripture is clear on qualifications for being a pastor. Women simply can’t be pastors. They can teach and lead other women. But they can’t lead a church.

    1. Hi Mike, I haven’t quoted from any English translation in my article. The automatically highlighted texts are of the CSB and it has “servant” in Romans 16:1. So I don’t understand your accusation that I’ve used “specific versions of the Bible” to fit my narrative.

      It is helpful to link to an English translation because very few people read the New Testament in Greek. I am, however, one of them. I read the Greek New Testament for study and devotional reading. It’s my everyday New Testament. In other words, I can read the Greek New Testament almost fluently, and I supplement this by reading other ancient Greek texts and documents to improve my knowledge.

      Paul calls Phoebe a diakonos, and that’s the word I’m interested in. Diakonos is Paul’s word for a minister. (Ministers are servants, at least they should be.) Paul is the only New Testament author to use diakonos for a minister, and he uses it consistently this way. In particular, he uses this word with the sense of an “agent with a sacred commission.” This is something I’ve looked into and I’ve written about it here:
      And here:
      And here:

      Priscilla is mentioned first, before Aquila, in all the oldest manuscripts of Acts 18:26. (I have no idea where you’re getting the idea of a “temple” from.) Priscilla, Aquila, and Apollos are in Ephesus, and they met with fellow believers in a Jewish synagogue and at home. Many first-century Christian congregations used homes as a base for worship and fellowship, and some of these house churches were hosted and cared for (“managed”) by women such as Priscilla.

      Since you like comparing English translations, note how many have Priscilla’s name first in Acts 18:26b: https://www.biblegateway.com/verse/en/Acts%2018:26
      There are very few apart from KJV-related translations.
      Here’s the ESV: “Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.”

      We do know something of what Priscilla and Aquila said to Apollos, who was an up-and-coming apostle on a teaching tour. Acts 18:25 says that Apollos only knew about the baptism of John. This indicates that he did not know about Christian baptism. The couple, seeing this lack, “explained to him the way of God more accurately.”

      There is no mistaking Priscilla’s involvement here. The Greek verbs and participles for “heard” (akousantes), “took aside/ received into one’s home” (proselabonto), and “explained” (exethento) are plural in the Greek of Acts 18:26b. Priscilla and Aquila both heard Apollos, they took him aside (or, they received him in their home), and they explained the way of God more accurately to him. This is what the Greek grammar of the three plural action words tells us.

      I’ve written about the meanings of proselabonto (from proslambanō) here: https://margmowczko.com/at-home-with-priscilla-and-aquila/

      I’ve written about how Luke and Paul speak about Priscilla, who is mentioned by name 6 times in the NT, here:

    2. Hi Mike.

      You claim Marg does and will make “lots of assumptions.” Are you sure YOU aren’t making some assumptions?

      There are no places in Scripture that list “qualifications for being a pastor.” That means —

      — You have to *assume* a passage that never mentions “pastors” is in fact talking about pastors.

      — You have to *assume* that such a passage directly prohibits women from the role.

      — You have to *assume* that passage is translated correctly.

      — You have to *assume* that passage’s instructions apply at all times and places, rather than as a (possibly temporary) correction to a problem at a particular time and place.

      1. The qualifications for pastors are actually laid out in multiple places. For starters, 1 Tim 3:2 and Titus 1:6 explain the qualifications of a pastor. Among them are “husband of but one wife”. A woman can’t be a husband of but one wife. The only pronoun used when discussing overseers/pastors is “he”.

        It’s also illogical that God would allow women to lead a church but appoint men to be the leaders of their household. Churches are more important.

        1. Rich, Norrin Radd is aware of these verses and so am I. Let me add 1 Timothy 3:12 and 1 Timothy 5:9.

          There is no discussion on pastors in the New Testament. The Greek noun that means “pastor” (poimēn), when used of a Christian minister, is used just once in the Greek New Testament, in Ephesians 4:11. And Paul does not elaborate much on this ministry.

          The only pronouns in many English translations of 1 Timothy 3, where it mentions some qualifications for overseers (episkopoi), and of Titus 1, where it mentions some qualifications for elders (presbyteroi), are masculine. But there are no masculine pronouns equivalent to “he” or “him” in the older Greek manuscripts of these passages. None. Zero. Nada.

          In the New Testament housheold codes, children (including, or especially, adult children) are told to obey their parents. But that hasn’t stopped sons from being pastors even when their parents are members of the congregation.

          “Husband of one wife” and “wife of one husband” used in 1 Timothy and Titus are idioms. We need to understand how this idiom was understood in the first century before we apply it lazily in ways that Paul never intended.

          I’ve written about the idiom here:
          Note the footnotes and postscripts too.

          There is nothing illogical about godly and capable women, such as Priscilla, serving others as pastors and teachers.

          And none of what you’ve written in your comments changes or affects what I wrote in the article. There were good women who functioned as pastors in churches, and Paul commended their ministry.

    3. The only ‘obscure version’ that Marg is using is the New Testament Greek! But to pick up on your point about 43 English translations tranlsating diakonos as servant in Romans 16:1 whilst rendering it as minister or deacon elsewhere is an interesting one. The KJV led the way with this and most modern translsations have followed.

      Here’s how the KJV translates diakonos. The word diakonos is rendered as ‘deacon’ twice (Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:8), ‘servant’ once (Romans 16:1) and ‘minister’ on all other occasions (Romans 13:4; 15:8; 1 Corinthians 3:5; 2 Corinthians 3:6; 6:4; 11:15, 23; Galatians 2:17; Ephesians 3:7; 6:21; Colossians 1:7, 23,25). But why? It’s the same word! In fact, diakonos doesn’t mean servant in the way that we imagine a servant. It means agent, and in the 1st century outside of the church a diakonos was a messenger or envoy on a special mission. This explains why Paul uses this word to describe himself and Apollos as they were messengers of the gospel, and Epaphras, Tychicus and Phoebe who were couriers of Paul’s letters to the churches.

    4. Conservative male scholars have repeatedly pointed out the same things as Marg about Phoebe, Julia, and Priscilla. She is hardly alone. They also point out the bias in many (most? ) English translations in deliberately translating the SAME Greek word differently if it is used of women vs men. A quick check of an interlinear by a layperson will show this, but scholars can also dig into how the word is used in 1st century and Christian usage.

  22. All the posts on both sides of this use reasoning and reference from historical passages in Acts and others to make the case. The requirement is clearI dont allow a woman to teach or have authority over a man….HE must be the HUSBAND of one wife…HE must manage HIS own family well and see and see that HIS children…..

    In laying out instructions to Timothy and Titus about establishing churches, he felt there was a need to define the qualificatIons of an elder. He says in Titus that he left him there to ‘”straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town…’ He then starts by declaring that an elder ” must be the HUSBAND of one wife…a MAN whose children believe…..HE must be blameless….rather HE must be hospitable….HE must hold firmly….so that HE can encourage….”

    Scripture interprets scripture. The inferences and mental hoops both sides jump through using the historical passages to prove their point are interpreted by the instructional passages.

    Why do you think Paul takes the time to listen the requirements of an elder? If it were okay for women to be elders, he wouldn’t have needed to say anything except the character qualifications. But in both Timothy and Titus He starts out declaring that elders must be men. Why? To Marg’s and others point because there WERE women elders? Yes. Doen’t make it right. There was chaos in Corinth regarding tongues. He had to straighten that out. The instructional passages always trump inferences and conclusions draw from historical passages.

    Marg and others make a “strong case” with these reasoning. Its easy to see what they are saying. But it is impossible for a woman to be the husband of one wife. Unless you are willing to really go off the rails with whole trans thing. But that’s another fish for another fryer.

    1. Kevin, Most of Paul’s “intructional” passages about ministry contain no prohbitions. I mention these passages in the article: Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:28, Ephesians 4:11, and also 1 Corinthians 14:26 and Colossians 3:16,

      Only 1 Corinthians 14:26-40, which silences three groups of unruly speakers, and 1 Timothy, which prohibits “other” teaching from men and from women, contain prohibitions of women speaking.

      To be clear, Paul silenced unruly, unedifying speaking and false teaching from both men and women.

      You said, “But it is impossible for a woman to be the husband of one wife.”
      Chrysostom, a native Greek speaker, didn’t have a problem with applying “Let deacons be the husband of one wife” (διάκονοι ἔστωσαν μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρες) in 1 Timothy 3:12 to female deacons.

      In response to 1 Timothy 3:12, Chrysostom wrote, “This must be understood therefore to relate to deaconesses. For that order is necessary and useful and honourable in the Church” (Chrysostom, Homilies on 1 Timothy, Homily 11). (More about deacons in 1 Timothy 3:8–13, here.)

      I’ve written more about the “husband of one wife/ wife of one husband” idiom (used three times in 1 Timothy and once in Titus) and how the early church understood it here:

      You quoted, “a MAN whose children believe…..HE must be blameless….rather HE must be hospitable….HE must hold firmly….so that HE can encourage…”

      However, there is no word in the Greek for MAN in the phrase about believing children in Titus 1:6 (contra to the NIV) and there are no masculine pronouns equivalent to “HE” anywhere in the Greek of Titus 1:6-9.

      Similarly, there is no word in the Greek for MAN in 1 Timothy 3:4 and there are no masculine pronouns such as “HE” in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 in most Greek texts. [There is one masculine personal pronoun in the textus receptus in this passage, in 1 Timothy 3:7: “HE (αὐτόν) must have a good reputation with outsiders.”]

      However, because of how Greek works, the Greek word for “man” and Greek masculine pronouns do not necessarily exclude women.

      Paul welcomed the ministry of capable godly women, such as Priscilla who was a respected leader, or elder, in the church in Ephesus and in Rome, and he did not silence them.

      1. Marg, you are dug in pretty well on this, and there s no moving you off your position. My hope is that other readers more open-minded may be able to see past your copius references to the Greek to prove your point(s), and understand Paul’s teaching on this very critical subject, in a simple straight forward manner.

        But since you are the Greek expert and even read the Greek new testament for your devotionals, and because you reference to non gender specific words ( he him aren’t gender specific, etc. ) please answer these questions about the following Greek words.. Just answer without comment, if you can resist doing so.

        Is episkopos ( elder- overseer -bishop) masculine, femInine, or nueter?

        Is andra ( husband ) masculine, feminine, or nueter?

        Is gynaikos ( wife ) masculine, feminine, or nutter?

        Is poimena ( shepherd ) masculine, feminine, or nueter?

        I will let the readers draw their own conclusions as to the intent of Paul’s instruction on elders. To be fair, your article is on women pastors….the scripture doesn’t specify any office of pastor, and that word has been used often interchangeably with elder/bishop/overseer. That is part of the confusion.

        1. Hello again, Kevin.

          Why do you find it justified to take such a combative and at least borderline rude tone?

          In your opening paragraph, you refer to Marg as being “dug in,” rather than using a less prejudicial expression such as “convinced.” You suggest that she is closed-minded, without any hint of self-awareness that you yourself come across that way. You hint that her use of Greek is somehow intended to obscure or circumvent the “real” meaning of texts, which you seem to believe is self-evident in English translations. (The very fact that “translations” is plural might suggest to some that the “real” meaning isn’t always that clear.)

          Your challenge to her about the gender of the list of words you present is inappropriately prosecutorial, and shows you are more interested in trying to score points than in having a civilized dialogue.

          It frankly doesn’t likely matter whether “episkopos” and “poimenas” are “masculine.” They would probably default to masculine unless *specifically* applied to a woman, as with “prostates,” a role usually filled by males, but cast in the feminine form of “prostatis” when applied to Phoebe. (I have no Greek training, so I’m sure Marg will not hesitate to correct me if I’m wrong.)

          The genders of “andra” and “gynaikos” don’t individually matter because they are part of an idiom that is gender-inclusive. Marg has addressed this in this very discussion, and in her 1 Tim. 3 article that she linked in one of her replies.

          You are technically correct: Scripture does not specify an “office of pastor.” In fact, AFAICT with a quick scan, any place the word “office” occurs, it is not directly present in the Greek NT, but is inserted by translators for more familiar reading. So technically, there is also no “office” of elder, overseer, deacon, patron, etc.

          In the NT, various forms of each of the words “presbuteros,” “episkopos,” and “poimen” occur. If one surveys them, it becomes apparent that, at least in NT days, they were used overlappingly if not synonymously. Actually, I find it curious that the term *least* used in Scripture — “pastor” — has today become the universal default term.

          1. Why is it I am combative? For asking Marg questions? She called Rory’s ( and many other dissenters of her views) response above ” lazy and confused”. Is that combative, perhaps a little looking down her nose- ish.

            I knew she wouldn’t just answer with a simple yes or know answer and leave it. That’s too simple 😉 I knew she would wax eloquent with her vast knowledge of Greek, compared to her dissenters ( this time me) ignorance. She does this often, as anyone can read. I just made her do it again.

            She’s right, I mean how can she not be, she has her devotions reading from the Greek Bible!

          2. Kevin, Challenging me to play a game on my own blog where you call the shots and make the rules so that the results are skewed to support your ideas can be described as combative. And with your rules, the results would have also been irrelevant and, worse still, misleading.

            Anyway, I hope you have a better understanding of grammatical gender now, if nothing else.

            Goodbye, Kevin. There’s no point in continuing this conversation. It sounds like you are claiming to have been deliberately manipulative. And sarcasm serves no constructive or loving purpose. I’m not into these things and don’t want them on my blog. I’m only interested in honest conversations and constructive critiques.

        2. Kevin, I wouldn’t call myself a Greek expert but I can read many ancient Greek texts with a level of ease and proficiency. I’ve read Greek pretty much every day for over a decade. I’ve done 4 semesters at university, and I continue to study it at a teritary level (5-day intensives in January and July, and a weekly reading group where we read inscriptions and papyri). You need at least 20 years of continuous study to be a Greek expert.

          Nevertheless, I know how grammatical gender in Greek works.

          Did you know that almost every verse in the New Testament that applies to both men and women uses masculine words and not feminine words?

          For example, the three words πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων (“everyone who is believing/ trusting”) in John 3:16 are each masculine. Are we to draw theological or ecclesial conclusions about the masculine grammar here?

          The word that means “people, humans” in Greek, anthrōpoi, is grammatically masculine. And even the word andres (“men”), of which andra is the singular accusative, is used in Acts for both men and women (e.g., Damaris).

          On the other hand, some neuter words can be used for people who are clearly either male or female. For example, gynaikaria (a neuter word) in 2 Timothy 3:6-7 and the gynaikeia (a neuter word) in 1 Peter 3:7 refer to women. (Note the spelling of “neuter.”)

          Furthermore, Greek nouns that mean rule, reign, authority, etc, are grammatically feminine, as are the words for the function of being a governor, monarch, overseer, etc. Do these words have an underlying feminine flavour?

          And when Peter said that the Holy Spirit will be poured out on all flesh (Acts 2:17), should we understand pasan sarka (“all flesh”) as being feminine because the words are grammatically feminine in Greek?

          The answer to my questions is “no”!

          Also the Greek word episkopos does not mean “elder.” There is a different Greek word in the New Testament that is correctly translated as “elder” or “older person.”

          The Greek words for overseers (episkopoi), elders (presbyteroi), and shepherd-pastors (poimenes) (cf. Eph. 4:11) may include women despite the masculine gender of these words.

          The same goes for the nouns (and participles) that mean believers, brothers/ siblings (adelphoi), coworkers, teachers, prophets, apostles, evangelists, relatives/ compatriots (syggenēis), etc, which are masculine in Paul’s letters. Women are not excluded just because these words are grammatically masculine. And sometimes they are explicitly included.

          Kevin, I’m not interested in playing a game that achieves nothing except to reveal your lack of understanding of how Greek and grammatical gender works.

        3. If there’s no Greek word for man, men, what in the world do we do with the septuagant ? Is Adam a man. God made man in His own image and woman as a helpmate. Seems to me that sets the understanding for the rest of scripture. It’s set I’m creation.
          Thank you for chiming in. I think I see another woman’s lib movement I’m the church like in the 80’s and 90s.

          1. Victor, I think you’ve misunderstood something. In the Bible, there is a Greek word and a Hebrew word for “man” which typically, but not always, refers to an “adult male human.”

            Since you’ve brought up Adam, he is most often referred to as an ‘adam in the Hebrew of Genesis 2-5 and as an anthrōpos in Greek of the Septuagint and New Testament. These two words mean “human” and “person” and can be used for male and female humans. Adam is called an ish (the Hebrew word for “man, husband”) a few times in the Hebrew Bible, usually with the sense of husband. See here. https://margmowczko.com/human-man-woman-genesis-2/

            In the Greek text on Blue Letter Bible, Adam is usually called by his name Adam or anthrōpos, twice he is called aner (“man, husband”) For example, anthrōpos X7 and aner X0 in Genesis 2, and aner (“husband”) in Genesis 3:6 and 16.

            “Women’s lib” has many expressions, some good and some bad. The gospel, however, is about freedom, or liberty, for all people, not just men (Luke 4:18ff ESV; 2 Cor. 3:17ff KJV). We should use this liberty to serve others (Gal. 5:13; 1 Pet. 2:16). Some, however, deny women the freedom to serve alongside their brothers, a denial supposedly based on a few verses. And that’s a shame. Neither Jesus, Paul, or Peter silenced sound speech or prohibited sound ministry from anyone.

          2. Hi Victor.

            Marg isn’t saying there is no Greek word for “man” *at all*, she’s saying there is no standalone word for “man” in the elder, overseer, and deacon passages in 1 Tim. and Tit.

            For some of us , this is not a “women’s lib” issue, it is an issue of properly translating, interpreting, and applying Scripture. And it’s not some new thing. Equality in ministry, if not in marriage, has been a feature of the AG and Foursquare churches for over 100 years, since at least the early 1900s. Protofundamentalists like A.B. Simpson, D.L. Moody, and others practiced it in the late 1800s. Many Wesleyan groups haven practiced it since the Wesleys themselves in the 1700s. And scholars like Gary Macy have published evidence that there was little or no difference in “ordination” practices between men and women for about the first 1100 years of the Church.

            I haven’t come close to reading all the material Marg has here on her site. It’s likely she has much better material than anything I’ve given in this short post.

          3. I was more specific.

            In response to Kevin’s quotation from Titus 1 which included, “a MAN whose children believe,” I simply stated that there is no word in the Greek for MAN in the phrase about believing children in Titus 1:6.

            There is a Greek word for “man” in the phrase “husband of one wife/ wife of one husband” which occurs once in Titus 1 and three times in 1 Timothy.

          4. I’m sorry, I just saw this today, more than a month later.
            You wrote: “God made man in His own image and woman as a helpmate.”

            I believe you’ll find that ‘helpmate’ comes from a misunderstanding of language in common use in 1540. In Genesis 2:18b, we see: “I will make him an help meet for him.” The word ‘meet’ here means ‘suitable.’ Somehow, ‘help meet’ was corrupted into ‘helpmate,’ which never was a word before.
            ‘Meet,’ meaning ‘suitable,’ was found in some liturgies well into the 20th century. Since I haven’t been in a liturgical church in the 21st century, I can’t speak to current use; the form went something like this:
            Celebrant: ‘Let us give thanks to God.’
            Congregation: “It is meet and right so to do.”
            Again, apologies for being six weeks late.

    2. Hi Kevin.

      In your opening paragraph, you seem to be alluding to 1 Tim. 2:12, and to be suggesting that, because it is didactic rather than historical, it and similar “didactic” passages should take precedence over the purely historical. But it is reasonably well established that the authors of the historical works did not construct them as pure historical reportage, but rather with didactic intent. That is consistent with what Paul says about the OT in places like 1 Cor. 10:11 and about all Scripture in 2 Tim. 3:16.

      In regard to your allusion to 1 Tim. 2, Marg has many good resources on that familiar passage. For now, suffice to say, it is not as simple and clear as you suggest.

      It’s good, I guess, that you explicitly state your hermeneutical presupposition that the explicitly “instructional” passages “always” supersede inferences drawn from “reasoning” about “historical” passages. It’s good to bear in mind that such presuppositions are not themselves inspired and authoritative, unlike Scripture, and not everyone shares them. Further, frustrating as it often is, the explicitly instructional passages are not always as clear as they seem. Marg demonstrates that aptly with her response to you about the “elder/overseer” passages.

      As an illustration, I’ll quote here two modern translations or 1 Tim. 3:1-7 that many of us believe more accurately render the Greek.

      1Tim 3:1 This saying is reliable: if anyone has a goal to be a supervisor in the church, they want a good thing.
      1Tim 3:2 So the church’s supervisor must be without fault. They should be faithful to their spouse, sober, modest, and honest. They should show hospitality and be skilled at teaching.
      1Tim 3:3 They shouldn’t be addicted to alcohol or a bully. Instead they should be gentle, peaceable, and not greedy.
      1Tim 3:4 They should manage their own household well—they should see that their children are obedient with complete respect,
      1Tim 3:5 because if they don’t know how to manage their own household, how can they take care of God’s church?
      1Tim 3:6 They shouldn’t be new believers so that they won’t become proud and fall under the devil’s spell.
      1Tim 3:7 They should also have a good reputation with those outside the church so that they won’t be embarrassed and fall into the devil’s trap. (CEB)

      1Tim 3:1 It is true that anyone who desires to be a church official wants to be something worthwhile.
      1Tim 3:2 That’s why officials must have a good reputation and be faithful in marriage. They must be self-controlled, sensible, well-behaved, friendly to strangers, and able to teach.
      1Tim 3:3 They must not be heavy drinkers or troublemakers. Instead, they must be kind and gentle and not love money.
      1Tim 3:4 Church officials must be in control of their own families, and they must see that their children are obedient and always respectful.
      1Tim 3:5 If they don’t know how to control their own families, how can they look after God’s people?
      1Tim 3:6 They must not be new followers of the Lord. If they are, they might become proud and be doomed along with the devil.
      1Tim 3:7 Finally, they must be well-respected by people who are not followers. Then they won’t be trapped and disgraced by the devil. (CEV)

  23. It occurs to me that we stir up quite a bit of dust over a word — “pastor” — that occurs at most *once* in most English translations. (I’m not a huge fan of the ESV, but I must commend the translators for keeping Eph. 4 consistent with other NT passages by rendering it “shepherds.”)

  24. Good Evening All,
    I have pleasure in following the various opinions inclinations thoughts remarks and all of the sort, very intriguing exciting and worth to follow.
    I would definitely want to be part of this discussions concerning the views of the Lord our God and savior and that of men, in essence.
    When God decided to create men in Genesis, God said the following’ now man shall have dominions over the earth and further when He spoke to both Adam and Eve he said the following ‘ now you Eve because you listened to the serpent the man shall have dominions over you and you shall seek unto him and he shall rule over you’
    If God, who is the author of human existence has given these instructions orders commands rules regulations or whatsoever it may be implied by our human cleverness or stupidity. Did God changed those sayings in the NT times?
    If one reads the 1953/54, bible version about submissiveness, the last sentence states that woman must respect and fear their husbands.
    Lets not try and confuse what God intended with this statements, cause if God intended woman to have lead, there would have been woman Angels and Disciples.
    Today’s church has forgotten the fact that God from the onset intended his church to be build through Adam and not Eve.
    When the bible says, the brick that was rejected he used it as the cornerstone in essence refers to any Adam so to allow God to build his church and word around Adam for the protection of Eve and his children. That’s why Joshua had to choose men to go to war and not woman, while the woman and children prayed to the Lord to lead their men in battle.
    If woman now are in the same battle front as with Adam, who is praying for those at war with the world and its envisage plans.

    1. Hi Petros, I’ll try and make my responses to your statements as short as possible.

      You quoted Genesis 1 as saying, “man shall have dominion over the earth …” The Hebrew word behind “man” here refers to “humanity” as a whole, male and female (not just male humans), which Genesis 1:26-28 makes plain.

      In Genesis 1:26-28, male and female humanity were commissioned by God to have dominion over the creatures, not over each other. In Genesis 1, men and women have the exact same status as God’s image bearers and the same shared purpose and responsibilities.

      You referred to Genesis 3:16. In this verse, God tells the woman that there will be consequences of sin. In Genesis 3:17-19, God tells the man there will be consequences of sin. God’s words here are not orders or commands.

      One consequence of sin spoiling the earth is that men will rule women. However, as followers of Jesus, we are part of a New Creation where the equality and mutuality between the sexes that we see in Genesis 1 and 2, before the Fall, is again possible.

      Jesus came to deal with the problem of sin, including Adam and Eve’s sin. We are not required or commanded to put up with sin’s effects. Rather, New Creation and New Covenant people, with the help of the Holy Spirit, should be trying to alleviate all the causes and consequences of sin.

      Many things changed with the New Testament! For starters, we are not bound by sin. We have been clothed with Christ!

      Nevertheless, note that nowhere in the Bible, in the Old or New Testaments, does God, or Jesus, or Paul, or Peter, or any New Testament writer tell men to rule women. Nowhere! Not Once.

      Paul, for example, in his instructions to husbands, tells men to love their wives! (Eph. 5:25ff; Col. 3:19). He never tells husbands to lead their wives. Paul uses the word “love” six times when addressing husbands in Ephesians 5:25-33. Love is his message to husbands, not leadership.

      And why would a Christian wife fear her Christian husband who loves her as Christ love the church? Peter even tells the wives in Asia Minor not to be afraid of their husbands, and some of these wives had non-Christian husbands.

      Fear has no place in relationships between brothers and sisters in Christ, including the relationship of Christian marriage. This should be obvious. I’ve written about the Greek word behind “fear” in Ephesians 5:33 and 1 Peter 3:2 & 6, here:

      On the other hand, mutual honour and respect is a good thing in Christian relationships. See Romans 12:10, Philippians 2:3, and 1 Peter 3:7, for example. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul urges that we are to give extra honour to those who lack it.

      Angels are ministering spirits (Hebrews 1:13-14). They are neither male nor female, and they don’t have sex (Matt. 22:30; Mark 12:25). Some angels, however, have looked like men when they visited humans. Furthermore, not all angels are leaders, they often are messengers, and not all disciples of Jesus are leaders or men.

      Tabitha is plainly called a disciple (Greek: mathētria) in the New Testament (Acts 9:36). There are women disciples in the New Testament. I’ve written about women disciples of Jesus here:

      I’ve written why the 12 special disciples of Jesus were all men here:

      Jesus is the cornerstone and foundation of the church, not Adam. And are you suggesting Adam is some kind of role model for someone who protects women and children? Do you know what happened to his two oldest sons? One was murdered, the other was exiled. Do you know what Adam did in Eden? How did he protect his wife and children? The Bible says nothing about Adam being a protector.

      And are you suggesting men can’t fight and pray? Men, rather than women, have typically gone to war because their muscles are stronger which is needed in hand to hand combat, but we see examples of Bible men who prayed before and during battles. Exodus 17:9-16, where Moses lifted his hands “up to the throne of the LORD” while Joshua fought with the Amalekites, springs to mind.

      Our warfare as Christians, however, does not require upper body strength or muscles. Our fight is not against flesh and blood, and I hope all of us, men and women, are doing a much better job of resisting evil and protecting others than Adam did (Ephesians 6:10-18).

      Petros, I don’t see many of the statements you have made in the Bible text. I also see no statement in the Bible text that prohibits capable women, such as such as Deborah, Miriam, the wise woman of Abel Beth Macaah, Priscilla, Phoebe, Lydia, and others, from serving their communities, including Christian congregations, as leaders.

      The church needs men and women serving together in churches, and sharing leadership.

  25. You said Paul does not make gender distinctions on who is allowed to be a leader in the church and that is false. It’s clearly listed in 1 Timothy 3:1. Also 1 Timothy 2:12, a woman is not to teach or have authority over a man. I Cor 11:3 says the Christ is the head of the church just as man is the head of the woman. If this order does not matter then Christ should be submitting to His Church! We don’t have the right to twist scripture and tell God that the order He set is wrong. As soon as it contradicts what the culture deems right headship is now all of a sudden a spin on words. The Bible says that if we don’t consent to the wholesome words or Jesus Christ we are proud, 1 Timothy 6:3-4. Titus 2:4-5 talks about older women teaching the young women. The older women should be teaching the younger women how to submit to their own husband, to be homemakers and love their children so that the Word of God is not dishonored.

    1. Hello Bernard, What I said is, “It’s important to note that in his general instructions about ministry, Paul never says that the ministry of teacher/ teaching, or of pastor, is off-limits to women. See Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:28, and Ephesians 4:11. And in 1 Corinthians 14:26 and Colossians 3:16, Paul encourages participation in ministry, including bringing a teaching.”

      There is nothing false about these statements.

      Furthermore, nothing in 1 Timothy 3:1, in the Greek, says anything about gender. If you meant 1 Timothy 3:2, I’ve written about that verse, and how the early church understood it, here:

      1 Timothy 2:8-15 is Paul addressing problem behaviour from certain Ephesians, male and female. In 1 Timothy 2:11-12, he tells Timothy that he is not allowing a woman, who needed to learn, to teach, and he was not allowing her to domineer a man who is probably her husband. This is good advice. I’ve written about 1 Timothy 2:11-12 here:

      1 Corinthians 11:2-16, which includes verse 3, is about the men and women who were praying and prophesying in Corinthian assemblies, and Paul uses arguments from Genesis 2 to support the points he makes. “Head” is about “origins” and “firstness” in verse 3. Moreover, the men and women in Corinth were ministering in the same way (praying and prophesying), but Paul wanted them to have gender appropriate head-coverings or hairstyles. If we keep reading, we see that Paul also uses “origins” when he emphasises mutual interdependence, not male-only leadership, for those who are “in the Lord” in 1 Corinthians 11:11-12.

      I’ve written about the timeless principles in Titus 2 here:
      What Paul says about women in Titus 2 is not the sum total of what the Bible or even Paul says about women.

      Bernard, Your implicit assumption about my motivation is incorrect. My aim is to understand Jesus’s and Paul’s words. I’ve devoted my life to this. And Paul never used the word “headship.” I’ve written about how he uses the word “head” here:

  26. nothing you’ve stated, or could ever state with scriptural reference, suggest that women were ever in a position to teach or exercise, spiritual authority over men. Priscilla was a copastor with her husband. That is obvious. Nowhere does it mention that she taught the church as a whole, including the men of the church. All through scripture from Genesis to revelation, the order of God is woven. the Lord is the headship of the man. Men are the headship of women. Parents are the headships of children. The church is responsible for the current gender crisis we have in this world. We have allowed women to exercise authority over men as the women’s Lib movement has infiltrated the church. It’s the fight back attitude of women against the exploitation of them over time. It’s not Christ’s answer or way of solving the conflict. It’s time for women to learn what the word submit means, just as much as it’s time for men to learn what it means to love their wife as Christ love the church. Submission is a beautiful thing. We are soldiers of Christ, on a mission for souls, and we must obey the order of God , if we are going to accomplish this mission to the magnitude that he wishes. Women can teach other women, and children. They can prophesy, they can be apostles, they can move in any of the five offices of the fivefold ministry, but they are never to teach or exercise, spiritual authority over men. It is terribly unbecoming of a woman who calls herself a Christian. this is not difficult. Your attitude throughout this article exemplifies your rebellion as a woman disrespecting the men that stand on this position biblically. Remember, you, women of the church, are exasperating this gender confusion in our society. Men, you, need to dig into your Bibles, and learn who you are in the Lord Jesus, and not control women, but properly lead them as the priest of your home and the headship under Christ. We better get this right or we will suffer the consequences.

    1. Hello Anthony Parker. Your observation of my article is partially accurate. Nowhere in this article or on my website do I claim that followers of Jesus, women or men, can validly exercise authority over capable fellow believers, men and women.

      The authorisation which God gives us to minister, to serve, and this includes the authorisation to pastor and care for others, is not an authority over other fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus warned his followers against exercising authority over others.

      Neither Jesus nor Paul nor Peter condone or share your concern for “male headship” and “authority over.”

      Abusive coercion and control is what Paul was addressing in 1 Timothy 2:12 when he used the Greek word authentein. This word does not refer to ordinary or healthy authority. I look at this word here:

      The word “headship” does not occur anywhere in accurate translations of the Bible. And nowhere in their letters do Paul or Peter tell men or husbands to lead or have authority over women or wives. Jesus also never says anything like this. Moreover, in all three occurrences in Ephesians where Paul uses the word “head” metaphorically, he indicates that we are to become like the “head.”

      There is a consistent theme in how “head-body” imagery is used in Ephesians 1, Ephesians 4, and Ephesians 5. It’s about the elevation of the “body,” closer to the fullness, maturity, and status of the “head,” which produces a strong bond and achieves unity. I’ve written about this here:

      I’ve also written about Paul’s use of “head” in 1 Corinthians 11:3 and elsewhere. See here:

      Anthony Parker, just because you have a different interpretation of a handful of scripture verses doesn’t mean that either of us is rebellious.

      The high-handed and hasty way you’ve chosen to judge and accuse me doesn’t help your case. Your harsh accusations, and the apparent ease with which you made them, are an ugly demonstration of “male headship.” Moreover, your personal opinion of me is not reflected in my article. I say nothing disrespectful about men or women in the article. If you “hear” disrespect, I suggest you are projecting your own feelings, insecurities, and concerns onto my word.

      Furthermore, your views on “male headship” and “authority over” don’t seem to factor the numerous “one another” verses or 1 Timothy 5:1-2:
      “Don’t rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters with all purity.”
      And that’s a shame.

      Also, you won’t find any New Testament verse that states or suggests that a husband is the “priest” of his household or family.

      Anyway, if there is something inaccurate in my article, please be more specific. You have not told me which statement, or statements, you actually disagree with and why.

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