My interpretation of the passages on women in ministry and what I believe Scripture says on the subject as well as gender roles.

This article has two aims.


First, it aims to interpret several passages in kind.


1 Timothy 2:12
1 Corinthians 14:34
Colossians 4
Ephesians 5


Second it aims to set Scripture’s view on women in ministry in light of their complete context, and (a subject in which I admit I am much weaker) women’s roles in the household. I do not seek to, since I do not know the totality of their arguments, to set my argument within the context of the discussions Grudem, MacAurther, and others have set forth.  Merely, I seek to set forth the interpretations that I have come to.


I have, since coming to Christ, seen several views on the subject of women in ministry.  They are


1. Women should have no place in ordained ministry.
2. Women should teach other women.
3. Women are permitted to function as missionaries, but not as pastors.
4. Women are permitted to pastor, but not as senior pastors (or as “senior teaching authorities,” in the language of John Lindell, of Ozark, Missouri).

5. Women are permitted in every position except oversight (the role of a bishop or as we call in the Assemblies of God, a presyter.
6. Women are permitted to every position, bar none. 


Most of the first through fifth opinion find the basis for this belief in 1 Timothy 2:12 and 1 Corintians 14:34.


1 Timothy 2:12 reads, in context from verse 8 to verse 15, in the NKJV (the translation I happen to have on hand)

I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with breaded hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. 

Let a woman learn in silence with all submission.

[Moreover,] I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.
[Because] Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being decieved, fell into transgression.

Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love and holiness, with self-control.



Let’s take this verse-by-verse:

I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting;

This is a continuation from verses 1-7,  and the phrase that follows in verse 9 (“in like manner”) connects verse 9 to verse 8 and both verses to verses 1-7.  Paul singles out the men for prayer and supplication.  Honestly, I do not pretend to know why he does this.  Perhaps the Ephesian context was such that women were not educated or prevented from occupying prominent places in the public arena.  The only place that I do know women occupied for certain in public was as cult prostitutes (One temple in Ephesus employed over 1000, according to the commentary of the Quest Study Bible).  They also, from what I recall, were not permitted an education in that context, and may have been, because of this, easily led astray.  If this were the case, it would have led to the men taking the prominent roles in worship.


Even still, considering the terms Paul used for “man” and “woman” were primarily translated “husband” and “wife” (see 1 Timothy 3:2 and 3:12 for an example of this inconsistent translation) leads me to believe that this passage is talking about household relationships inclusive of times of private marital communion with the Lord rather than ettiquete for public places of worship.  See Colossians 3:18-19 and Ephesians 5:22-33 for a similar prescription for husbands and wives using the same Greek terminology.  I think this passage is part of that whole body of Biblical texts that discuss marriage relationships in the home.  Be that as it may, the text speaks to me that men are to take the lead in initiating worship and communion with the Lord with our wives, and in the context of the Colossians and Ephesians passage (passages where the husband loves his wife) would lead to a greater clarity of marital conduct. 

in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with breaded hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. 

Okay all you ladies, time to strip yourselves of the lipstick and mascara and makeup and jewelry,a nd wedding rings, and engagement bands, and my wife who has 7k sitting on her finger and…heh heh.  I think what this communicates is a message that is similar to that of 1 Peter 3:1-5.

Let a woman learn in silence with all submission.

Let the woman learn in silence with all submission.  Again the wife is learning the place of submission, as the husband is also learning the place of sacrifice and death.

[Moreover,] I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.

Okay, here is the kicker ladies and gentleman.  I interpret this as saying exactly the following, “I do not permit a wife to teach or have/excercise authority over a man, but to be in silence.”  If you are going to have an application for the modern day it is this.  Look at this verse through a few other verses.  such as the proverb that “a continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike” (Proverbs 27:15).  It’s great for a wife to give her husband counsel and advice, especially if she and he are in the same boat that my wife and I are in.  I have a right to speak to this issue because I am married to an older more experienced woman who is experienced in life and decorum and dress and matters of not looking like a bum.  She has the duty to tell me when I am off base et cetera.  However, a wife does not have the duty to, if the husband is too intimidated to step up to the plate and take the leadership role, to constatnly and naggingly do all in her power to take that position of leadership.  She is to encourage him to grow into all he is designed to be.  I think this is a powerful application.  The concept I gather from this is exactly that griping, complaining, quarreling, usurping, overthrowing type of leadership.  Think Jezebel and Ahab.  Ahab let Jezebel have her way with God’s kingdom.

[Because] Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being decieved, fell into transgression.

Adam did the same thing.  He did what Eve and the serpent did.  He did not step up, and made the choice to follow his wife over obeying God.

Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love and holiness, with self-control.
I just received a thought while looking at this verse.  Something completely new, and I am going to share it here and now.  “They” in this verse talks about the children.  There are several proverbs that communicate the idea that a wise and prudent child is a delight to his or her parents.  Remembering that the majority of women of Ephesus frequently practiced prostitution, which would have led to abortions of unwanted children in order to continue the practice of their prostitution, Paul is inserting a dynamic here that would totally shred to pieces that debauched order.  If a woman would step away from that debauched lifestyle to embrace the sacrifice of motherhood, it would begin to eliminate, in a rather revolutionary matter, the prostitution rituals of Ephesus.  Perhaps corporate redemption of the city of Ephesus, which means the deliverance of that community from Diana worship and prostitution bondage, would involve this process.  maybe Paul is staking redemption and salvation for the female members of that community on practices that bred idolatry.  Prostitution and whoredomes which were incorporated in the worship of the idols, and fed the religious industry in that community, once ended, would be replaced with childbirth, the raising of families, and through Paul’s teaching, would open the door for the Spirit of God to transform whole sectors of the populace.  I am not saying that having children is the key to a woman’s salvation, but when other gods are placed above the one true God, and those gods, as part of their rituals and worship, require prostitution and, as a result, abortion, then the riddance of those practices and the doing of the right thing makes the community more open to the influence of God through whatever vessel or preacher he chooses to bring.


To sum up, I would say this passage is not talking about how we treat gender roles in the church, but rather in the household.  I would say better passages exist that treat the subject of women in ministry, especially by implication.


Here is a good list


Acts 2 and Joel 2 give good references to the Holy Spirit and the proclamation gifts being poured out on both male and female, all flesh.


The concept that God can do whatever He want with whomever He wants is pretty straightforward.  We do not have the right to tell God what He can and cannot do, even if our narrow interpretations of Scripture do not line up with what THE WHOLE OF SCRIPTURE ACTUALLY SAYS.  

Huldah, Deborah, Mary Magdelene, Priscilla and Aquilla, Junias, Phoebe, Miriam of Exodus, Anna of Luke 2, and other women in the account of Scripture all serve as narrative examples of women at work for the kingdom in various roles of ministry.  

My wife, mother, Oleeta Hardenbrook, Beth Nussel, Melanie Harris, Renee Modica, Michelle Tepper, Deborah Gill, Barbara Cavaness,  and others are the examples I personally know of women I have spent time hearing who definitely have a gifting for the proclamation of the Gospel.  And without my mother explaining the matters of the faith to me, I would not have had confirmation of my conversion experience at the age of four.  Without her, I can say I would not have been a part of the kingdom as early as I became part. 


For me as part of the Methodist and Pentecostal traditions, the placing of limitations of God as to whom he can and cannot use on the basis of their anatomical equipment is simply an indicator of ludicrous insanity that borders on heresy and severe judgment at the hands of God himself.  To be uncomfortable with the idea of God using a woman in a position of leadership is understandable, but to rebel and scream that it’s impossible is a violation of Jesus observation and its logical implication:  With God, all things are possible. 


I hope this blesses and informs.

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