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Women in ministry?

1 Corinthians 14:34-35 Amplified Bible

The women should be silent in the churches, for they are not authorized to speak, but are to take a subordinate place, as the Law says. If there is anything they want to learn [that is, if they have questions about anything being said or taught], they are to ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to talk in church.

This is such a hot potato in the church world, plagued by extremes from both sides.

As he deals with the issue of order, Paul next says something in the above Scripture that needs clarification: This is a passage that has been misused, and it is widely misunderstood. It’s important to understand that among the Greeks, women were discouraged from speaking in public generally anyway. That was the Greek culture of the time. More importantly, first-century women were generally uneducated and illiterate.

The word λαλέω - laleō - is used 244 times in the New Testament for “to speak.” It has nothing

to do with public speaking or with teaching or prophesying. It appears that the Corinthian

women were causing disruption by their constant talking. Remember, Paul is addressing the problem of disorder in the Corinthian church. In the first century, women generally sat on one side and men sat on the other, and women would have had to shout across the room to talk to their husbands. Paul says that if they had questions, they needed to ask their husbands at home rather than interrupting in the congregation. If you’ve ever been to Israel and watch a Jewish

family talking, they sound like they’re arguing. It’s said that if you have two Jews in a room, you have three opinions. I’m kidding, but there was a reality of disorder in the Corinthian church.

The Bible is clear that women will be filled with the Spirit of God to prophesy and to do the

work of the ministry. Paul assumes that women will prophesy. Joel 2:28 mentions both men

and women as recipients of God’s outpouring in the last days. Priscilla, the wife of Aquila, was a

teacher and fellow worker with Paul. She and her husband had a church in their house, and both

Priscilla and Aquila worked together to bring Apollos up to speed on doctrinal issues. She

must have been a great asset to the apostles and highly respected because she is mentioned first

along with her husband.

We find in Acts 21:9 that Philip the evangelist had four virgin daughters who prophesied.

Considering the young age at which women were married in those times, this meant that these were not adult women prophesying, but young teen or even pre-teen girls.

In Philippians 4:2-3, Paul urges the church to help Euodia and Syntyche, his fellow laborers in the Gospel. Women clearly had value in the work of building and edifying the Church.

In Romans 16, Paul mentions a variety of different women workers for Christ. In the first

verse he says, “I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at

Cenchrea.” In verse 7, Paul mentions Junias as his fellow prisoner and apostle. Hers is a clearly

female name, and she is the only female apostle named in the New Testament. In verse12, he sends greetings to Tryphena and Tryphosa, women who work for Christ.

Paul is not suggesting that women have no place for teaching or prophesying or helping in the

church. In Corinth, he is dealing with obnoxious women who cause interruption and confusion.

He reminds his readers that the Law says women should be subject to their husbands – ever since

God told Eve that her husband would rule over her in Genesis 3:16. However, this should never be used to cloud the role of women in the ministry. When it is, it’s a tragedy. Where would the mission fields be without women? Most would be non-existent. What would the Church be without the ministry of women since the very beginning? Don’t forget, it was Mary Magdalene who first learned the Lord had risen in John 20 and went to tell the disciples in John.

She was the very first person to spread the news that Jesus had risen from the dead.


My personal view as a pastor, based on the revelation & knowledge of the Scriptures I have till so far, I find it grievous when Christians take a very hard, judgemental & dogmatic stand on women in ministry. I don't think it is Scriptural for a women married or single to be a lead-pastor or elder, but I do know of certain circumstances like war or other extreme circumstances women sometimes have to step in. At the same time (even though they were not church leaders) where would the world be without mighty women of God like Amy Carmicle or Corrie ten Boom & many others like them?

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