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Women’s Role In The Church According To The Bible

Women’s role in the church according to the Bible, Women and ministry in the New Testament, What is Paul saying about women and lots more have all been discussed in this post.

There are many passages in the Bible where God declares that women are equal to men. In fact, in creation stories, God created both genders equally. In Genesis 1:27, it says “So God created man in his own image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

However, there are still some verses that seem to suggest men should be leaders over women. In 1 Timothy 2:11-12 it says “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.”

This is one of many instances where we need to look at context when interpreting scripture. We need to consider what was going on at the time these passages were written and why they were written this way. Throughout history there have been many examples of women who have done great things despite being told they can’t do it because they’re female (e.g., Marie Curie).

Womens Role In The Church According To The Bible kjv

8 Bible Verses about Role Of Women In The Church

Women have a biblical role in society from helping within the church to fulfilling the Great Commission. The Bible encourages all Christians — both male and female — to follow the commands of God in telling others about Him.

Most Relevant Verses
Genesis 2:18
Verse Concepts
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”

1 Corinthians 11:3-12
But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is more.
Ephesians 5:22-23
Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.

1 Timothy 2:9-15
Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness. A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire more.
1 Timothy 3:11
Verse Concepts
Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things.

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1 Timothy 5:9-14
A widow is to be put on the list only if she is not less than sixty years old, having been the wife of one man, having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work. But refuse to put younger widows on the list, for when they feel sensual desires in disregard of Christ, they want to get married,read more.
Titus 2:3-5
Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

1 Peter 3:1-6
In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses;read more.

The Role Of A Christian Woman In The Church

When the church began on the Day of Pentecost, women, as well as men, came into it in great numbers (Acts 5:14). There were no distinctions made in conditions of membership between the sexes. Furthermore, the importance of women to the whole church is reflected by the concern which the early church had for widows who needed care and help (Acts 6:1-6).

The good works of women are frequently mentioned in Scripture. Dorcas is cited as an example of faithful, loving service (Acts 9:36-39). Lydia is revealed as being a woman of great hospitality, “constraining” Paul and his company to abide in her house (Acts 16:1-15). Phoebe is described as a “servant of the church that is in Cenchreae” (Romans 16:10). The many good works of women in the church is further reflected as Paul describes the qualifications for women who were to devote full time to Christian work and to be supported by the church. In 1 Timothy 5:9-10 these qualifications included widowhood, being sixty or more years of age, having no kin of their own to support them, and being “well reported of for good works.” These good works were then stated as (1) bringing up children, (2) showing hospitality to strangers, (3) washing the saints’ feet, (4) relieving the afflicted, and (5) diligently following every good work.

Woman’s role in the private teaching of God’s Word is also referenced in Scripture. In Acts 18:26 Priscilla, with her husband, Aquila, privately taught a good, but misinformed preacher (Apollos) “the way of God more accurately.” Titus 2:4 commands older women to train younger women in Christian living.

A key verse in understanding the importance of women in the eyes of God is Galatians 3:28, “There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female, for ye all are one man in Christ Jesus.” In the world of Jesus’ day, there were sharp distinctions among people by which they looked upon each other as inferior or superior and, because of these differences, separated themselves from each other. These differences included religious background (Jew and Greek), special status (slave or slave owner), or sex (male and female). Paul wrote that none of these distinctions was valid as far as worth is concerned. He did not mean, certainly, that when one became a Christian he or she ceased to be a man or a woman, a slave or a free man, a Jew or a Gentile. None of these, however, should cause separation , because all are of equal preciousness in Christ Jesus.DIFFERING ROLES FOR MEN AND WOMEN

Although the church is to hold unswervingly to the view that women and men are equally valuable in the eyes of God, it must also reflect the New Testament teaching that men and women are to fill different roles in the church.

For instance, in the Lord’s plan for church government each congregation is to be led by elders and deacons (Philippians 1:1). In listing the qualifications for elders (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9) and for deacons (1 Tim. 3:12) being the “husband of one wife” is mentioned. This obviously excludes women from these roles; only men are to be elders and deacons.

Although women can teach privately, as we learned from the example of Priscilla, women are forbidden to teach men publicly (1 Tim. 2:12). The common practice today of women being accepted as preachers is not a practice approved in the New Testament and should not be practiced in the church (1 Cor. 14: 34).

The great emphasis today on the rights of women should not cause Christians to question the Lord’s forbidding women to assume certain roles in the church. Even if no reasons for this action were given we should accept by faith what God has revealed. Some reasons, however, were given. Consider the following:

1. Woman’s role in the church reflects the original act of creation in which man was first created (1 Tim. 2:13).

2. Woman’s role in the church reflects that it was the woman who was first deceived by Satan and fell into sin (1 Tim. 2:13).

3. Woman’s role in the church is closely connected to her unique role in the home. Woman alone can give birth to children (1 Tim. 2:15). The man must care for and provide for his wife and love her as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25). The woman’s willing submission to her husband is most likely to call forth the best of his care (Eph. 5:22,33). In order for there to be the greatest amount of happiness in the home, God has established different roles for men and women in the home. This difference is likewise to be reflected in the church.

Womens Role In The Church Verses

The primary passage in question is 1 Timothy 2:11-14: A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.

If we are to approach this text fairly, we must wrestle with some of the difficult contextual questions that accompany it. For example:

  • When Paul mentioned “full submission,” did he mean to say that all women are to submit to the male leadership in a church, or was he referring to wives submitting to their own husbands as they do to the Lord (Ephesians/Colossians)? How does his admonition to both men and women to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21) affect this?
  • When Paul said, “I do not permit,” should we read it as a command from God and also as prescriptive for all churches always and everywhere?
  • If we take Paul literally in 1 Timothy 2:11-14, should we not back up to the previous verses and exhort women not to adorn themselves with “elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes” (1 Timothy 2:9-10)?
  • Should we not also take literally Paul’s commands elsewhere that women be required to cover their heads in worship (1 Corinthians 11:5-13), and be forbidden from cutting their long hair (1 Corinthians 11:14-15)?
  • Did Paul really mean to say that Eve sinned while Adam did not, or that Eve’s sin was worse than Adam’s? Did Eve being deceived result in the female gender becoming more toxic than the male gender among humanity? If so, wouldn’t that contradict God’s own specific curses of both genders (Genesis 3:16-19), and Paul’s much more common attribution of sin and death to Adam rather than Eve (Romans 5:15-211 Corinthians 15:22)?
  • Is it correct or even fair for us to equate the more Protestant, evangelical “Sunday sermon” time to that of the apostolic or elder-authoritative teaching setting of the first century church?
  • How much did the temple and worship of the goddess Artemis in Ephesus, and the accompanying elevation of feminine over masculine, play into Paul’s lone reference to the order of creation of human beings without mentioning that man also came from woman (1 Corinthians 11:7-12)?
  • Also, as is often the case when the 1 Timothy 2 passage is addressed in the manner it was, no attention was given to the very problematic statement in 2:15: “But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.”What do we do with that? Surely Paul did not mean to imply that childbearing is salvific, right? Was Paul saying that women who are unable to conceive cannot be saved? Was he limiting the role of a woman to that of domesticity and child-rearing? Or was he referring to the birth of Christ?

With all of this in mind, perhaps we might be able to approach this topic more humbly and generously. Perhaps we can dig into the Scriptures joyfully, and with thankfulness for the ways the Holy Spirit equips and uses both women and men in the work of the gospel ministry. In what follows, we will take a much wider look at the both the Old and New Testament canons, which will hopefully lead us to be more thoughtful about our attitudes, words, and actions, and have a more balanced discourse.

Women and ministry in the Old Testament

Turning to the Hebrew Scriptures for a moment, not a small number of women are praised throughout the Tanakh. During a time when the world belonged to men as much as it ever has, the Book of Genesis mentions five different women who are given burials of honor: Sarah (Genesis 23), Deborah (Genesis 35:8), Rachel (Genesis 35:19), Rebekah (Genesis 49:31), and Leah (Genesis 49:31). Most of these women are also mentioned on multiple occasions throughout both the Old and New Testaments. There are of course many other Hebrew women who are given significant attention like Sarah, Rahab, Ruth, and Esther.

Many women actually spoke and/or wrote words that became Scripture. Such women include Miriam (Exodus 15:1-21), another Deborah (Judges 5:1-31), and Hannah (1 Samuel 2:1-10).

Deborah was herself a judge of Israel (Judges 4-5). God spoke prophetically to David through Abigail (1 Samuel 25:24-31), and Huldah was a prophetess in Jerusalem who spoke the words of God (2 Kings 22:142 Chronicles 34:22), as was the wife of Isaiah (Isaiah 8:3).

Women and ministry in the New Testament

Moving specifically to the Gospels of the New Testament, women are seen in the most prominent roles. Four women—Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary—are singled out in the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:1-16).

Elizabeth (Luke 1:25, 41-45) and Mary (Luke 1:38) confirmed with their mouths the promise of the Messiah and the word of the Lord from an angel. Mary herself also sang words that became Scripture (Luke 1:46-55, the Magnificat). After Jesus was born and presented in the temple, he was blessed and spoken about publicly by the prophetess Anna (Luke 2:36-38). Women were also at the center of Jesus’ teaching, such as the parable of the woman and the yeast (Matthew 13:33Luke 13:21), the parable of the woman and her lost coin (Luke 15:8-10), the parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-18), and the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). There is also the woman who Jesus refused to condemn in a near-execution because of adultery, leading to one of the most teachable moments anywhere in Scripture (Luke 7:36-50). And Jesus praised the impoverished widow for giving two mites — all she had — with a pure heart as opposed to several rich people who gave selfishly and pridefully out of their wealth (Mark 12:41-44Luke 21:1-4).

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