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Should Only Men Be Overseers in the Church?

Updated on October 18, 2010

Women can qualify to be Overseers In The Church and are Heads of the House!

Welcome to our new hub. This one is again about our gender relations in the Church and home. There are some men that thnk that the moral qualification for church leaders can only be filled by men. I will be relating to a very well written article from Christians for Biblcal Equality's- Arise E-Newsletter, that was sent to our E-mail. This has to do with Paul's Qualification For Church Leaders, written by Margaret Mowczko. She writes about biblical equality in marriage and in ministry for her website.

She writes that some people think that the moral qualifications for church leaders were written only for men and apply only to men as recorded in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9. And the implications in these passages say only men can be church leaders or overseers of their flocks. The problem is that their scholarship neglects to inform us that in the older Greek manuscripts, these verses are completely free from masculine pronouns and that in all Greek manuscripts no use of the word "man" nor "men" is found anywhere in these verses.

This means that all the qualifications listed in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9 can be applied to both women and men equally. There does seem to be an exception were it says that a church leader should have only one wife. In Greece men usually had a number of wives and Paul was putting a limit on men as to how many wives they could have as ministers. The phrase in the older scriptures is 'a one woman man' or the husband of one wife. We must be careful of the dangers in applying it too literaly. It s an idiomatic expression and many people have difficulty explaining and applying its meaning in the contemporay Western church culture. Our culture today is vastly different from the first century Greek culture.

If taken literrally the one woman man, would rule out unmarried, widowed and divorced men and women from being church leaders. But Paul says, that being single and celibate enables people to serve God better, 1 Corinthians 7:2-35. The real intent of these scriptures expression is marital faithfulness in the church leader who is already married.

Paul shows that all the qualities in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9, including the ability to lead one's household, are qually applicable to both genders. and according to Paul, it is not only men who can lead households. Paul advisd the younger widows in the Ephesian church to remarry. have children and "keep house", 1Timothy 5:14. This is very interesting in that the word Paul uses for "keeping house" here is the Greek word oikodespotein, Which literally means "to be master of a household." The King James accurately translates 1 Timothy 5:14 as: 'I ( Paul) desire therefore that the younger widows marry, bear children, rule the household, and give no ocasion to the adversary for insulting."

Undoubtedly most church leaders after the first century and starting in the second century when men decided to exhault their ego's over Christ's teachings, and instituted the different levels of clergy and laity. Yet Jesus Christ never stated in the new Tesament that a leader must be a man only. The New Living Translation (NLT), (which gives the impression of being gender inclusive because it frequenly translates the Greek word adelphol into "brothers and sisters" and has taken the bold step of inserting the statement, 'so an elder must be a man' into 1 Timothy 3:2. This gives the statement a wrong meaning because this statement simply does not appear anywhere in any Greek manuscript of the New Testament. The translaters of the (NLT) have inserted this statement to put across their biased opinion that a church leader must be a man. They have tried to pass off their opinion as being 'the word of God'. Had Paul wanted to say, "an elder must be a man" he would have done so. Once again we see men tampering with Paul's words and teachings as Peter related that some were doing in 2 Peter 3:15-17.

Lets take another look at what Margaret Mowczko says about Paul's teaching of 1 Timothy chapter 3 literally? Paul says, " If anyone aspires to overseership, he/she desires a noble task." There is absolutely no gender preference suggested here whatsoever. Now you see more clearly that women have always had the right to be part of Jesus Christ's ministry as long as they are submissive to Jesus Christ and respect their husbands, 1 Peter 2:1-13, Ephesians 5:21-33.

I hope this article by Margaret Mowczko, will open the eyes of both women and men for the necessity of working together in Christ's ministry of all believers. Draw near to God together and God will bless you and use you to do a tremendous work.

Another interesting article, Head of The House? , from CBE's Arise E-Newsletter is the one by Alvera Mickelsen. This fine lady scholar has been active with Christians for Biblical Equality from its beginning. Alvera has something I would like to add to this Hub about whether men are the 'head of the house' and overseers of the church.and being the only ones Christ works through in His ministry!

It is true that to many evangelicals believe that the Bible teaches that God has ordained that the husband is the "head of the house" and is the one through whom God speaks to the family. Alvera says, this is based on a verse or two in the writings of Paul, such as Ephesians 5:22. (Such teachers fail to mention Ephesians 5:21- "submit to one another," or 1 Corinthians 7 - the only place where Paul talks exclusively about marriage and clearly gives exactly the same comands to husbands and wives.). I have not yet found the verses that state that "the man is the head of the house" anywhere in the Bible.

Apparently the God of the Old Testament didn't understand this "headship" idea, either. Look, for example, at the story of the birth of Samson recorded in Judges 13. Manoah and his wife very much wanted a child. One day an angel appeared to Manoah's wife and told her that she would bear a son who was to be raised as a Nazirite - hair never cut, never to drink wine, etc. He would begin to deliver the Israelites from the Philistines.

Like any good wife, she ran to tell her husband about the angel's appearance and message. Manoah prayed that the angel would come again and tell them how to bring up this child (Judges 13:8). God answered his prayer; the angel appeared again to the woman while she was out in the field. Again, like a good wife, she ran to tell her husband. He went to the field with her and asked the angel how they were to raise the child that God was going to give them. (Manoah obviously was a man of faith) the angel replied, "Your wife must do all all that I have told her", Judges 13:13.

Manoah invited the angel to stay while he prepared a goat and grain as an offering to God. God sent a flame of fire to consume it, and the angel ascended in the flame. Manoah exclaimed, "we are doomed to die! Because we have seen God!" His wife apparently had a better understanding of God. For she said, "If the Lord had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted our offering or told us all these things', Judges 13:23.

This is only one of many stories in the Bible that show how God reveals himself to women as well as to men, and holds them equally responsible to him. The "man as the had of rhe house" concept is the result of 'selective literalism" not the result of careful study of the Bible.

I have found many of Alvera's teaching to be very interesting and helpful to make me see how important may wife is to me. There have been many times my wife has been used by God to point me in the right direction to take and believe God. Just like Manoah's wife did to reassure Manoah to take the right action and trust God's devine will.

Come back again and see us. I will try to put more articles from CBE's Arise E- Newsletters here for you to read. Better yet why not subsribe to CBE's Arise E-Newsletter and share them with someone else like your spouse or other loved ones. You can reach them on our link to CBE.


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    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      8 years ago from Chicago

      You have very interesting ideas. I enjoyed reading them in this well-written piece of work. Thank you.

    • lionswhelp profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago


      Great, that would be called egalitarianism. It's amazing how many husbands and wives actually are this way. As long as you don't listen to the junk spewed out by most churches about headship you should be okay.

      I wanted a wife equal to me sharing things without trying to Lord it over her. This is the best way. We found this group at CBE. Our Church was still in the dark ages of patriarchy. Now when we have to make decisions the one who is affected the most has the biggest say. This eliminates friction.

      I can't wait to show the Pastor of the church that we attend 1 Timothy 5:14. He said about a week ago that the husband is the head of the house. I didn't get a chance to ask him to show any verse intheBible that says that. It is not there. Its all about helping each other in servant leadership.

    • thooghun profile image

      James D. Preston 

      8 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Thank you for an interesting read, it was both factual and amusing! I am certainly not the head of this household, both my wife and I agree on certainly principles, and organization and responsability are not my fortes.



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