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Women and Church Leadership

Before we look at what God teaches us regarding women in church leadership/preaching positions, we must understand that the Bible never implies that women are in any way inferior to men.  If anything, women prove to be the most spiritual (who stood by Jesus on the cross?).  There are so many amazing and faith-filled women in the Bible (e.g. Sarah, Deborah, Ruth, Hannah, Phebe).

To understand why God directs us toward different leadership roles in the Bible, we must go back to  God’s original design for men and women.  These Scriptural truths are often looked upon with skepticism, but if God’s Word is the final authority from our Creator, then His ways are the only ways.  When God originally created men and women He created the woman for the man, 1Corinthians 11:9, “Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.”

God has established order in the home:

  • Ephesians 5:22, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord”
  • Colossians 3:18, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.”
  • 1Peter 3:1, “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives”

God has also established order in His church:

God is very clear on His direction regarding men and women in church leadership positions.  It’s important to note that in the New Testament there was no woman apostle. There was no woman pastor, elder. No New Testament book is written by a woman. While the miraculous gift of prophecy was still active, Philip’s daughters prophesied in Acts 21, but not in a church context.  No sermon is ever recorded from a woman in the Bible.

We will look at the Scriptures on this now:

When the Lord gives the Biblical qualifications of church leaders (pastors and deacons), both have the requirement to be the “husband of one wife.”

  • 1Timothy 3:1-2, “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach”
  • 1Timothy 3:12, Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
  • Titus 1:5-7, “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre”

In the context of declaring the authoritative Word of God, the Lord prohibits women from doing so in a public assembly (the context of 1Corinthians 14 is tongues and prophecy in the church):

  • 1Corinthians 14:34-35, “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”

The elder women are commanded to teach the younger women (see Titus 2:3-5), but again, God prohibits women from teaching men in the context of “authority” (e.g. the Word of God):

  • 1Timothy 2:11-13, “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve.”

We at RBBC recognise that these concepts are often foreign to the world’s thinking, but as we desire to be obedient and faithful to God’s written, authoritative Word, we choose to obey in this area as well.  May the Lord guide you as you strive to show your love for Him and to “keep His commandments,” 1John 5:3.