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Where People Fail in Supporting Women Preachers

Updated on January 5, 2020
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Dr. David Thiessen is an educator, writer, pastor, and speaker. He has authored several books on a variety of topics including Archaeology

They grasp at straws

The debate and issue of female preachers is never going to end. As long as evil is given free reign by God, women and men are going to be deceived and fight for women to be included in the ranks of pastors, preachers and church leaders.

The problem is, there is no biblical support for the supporters end of the debate. All of the biblical references support Paul’s teaching on who can fill those church positions. It must be remembered that keeping to the Bible and its instructions is not being misogynist in nature or attitude. It is being obedient to God and Jesus.

Despite that, there are those who feel that women are qualified to be preachers, pastors and so on. In one discussion I had over 20 years ago, a man I knew said that women have leadership qualities and would make excellent pastors.

Yes, God has given women leadership qualities, Paul even states that in an indirect was when he lists the different offices in I Cor. 12 starting at verse 28. But those leadership qualities are to permission to disobey God’s rules on who fills which offices.

The source of one of the mistakes made

With a little study, it is clear where one of the sources for the supporters for women preachers make their mistake. It comes when they do not apply the proper definitions of the terms ‘apostle’ and ‘disciple’ to the topic.

It is often assumed that since Jesus’ disciples and male apostles preached , started and led churches, women apostles and disciples are allowed to do the same thing. That is a false assumption. God’s rules are not to be tossed aside and ignored just because someone of either gender has reached that level of belief.

The word apostle is defined by Mirriam Webster Dictionary as “one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another”. Tabitha, in Acts 9:36 is given this title by Luke. When you read her activities you will see she assisted in spreading of Christianity through her ‘deeds of kindness and charity’. Not through any preaching.

Then the term disciple is defined by the Free Dictionary as “ A passionate adherent; a strong supporter”. This is the 3rd definition given by that dictionary as the first refers to the original disciples and the second refers to the Mormon Church leaders.

In both cases women can be seen as disciples and apostles because their work for Christ is passionate, strong and accepts Jesus’ teaching. Both positions can be obtained by women without violating God’s rules on ho can preach or lead a church.

To read into those terms that women can preach is erroneous and misguided thinking.

The case of Junia

This is one of those situations that less than honest Bible readers can distort the meaning of the passage as it is a vulnerable verse. The NASB translates the word as Junias, a masculine name whereas other translations give the feminine version. Which one is referred to in Romans 16:7 is not clear.

But, since women can obtain the office of apostle without preaching and leading a church, then it doesn’t really matter who Paul is referring to when he wrote the words-- “Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me”

The greeting does not indicate that Paul is referring to a woman and even if he was, that does not mean Andronicus and Junia were married. All we know is that they were related to Paul in some matter and they could have been brother and sister or cousins from different parents.

The gifts of the Spirit

Many people who support women for preaching positions turn to 1 Cor. 12, the list of the gifts of the Spirit, and use the fact that women are not excluded from receiving these gifts as permission for women to take those positions Paul denied them.

That also is an erroneous assumption to make for nowhere in the passage are Paul’s restrictions overturned by women being filled with the Spirit and receiving his gifts. Those women with the gift of teaching, preaching, and other related gifts may do so but oy if they follow God’s rules.

Their gifts are to be exercised within the framework God laid out through Paul. Any other alternative framework has women sinning and disobeying God. This is not what makes a preacher. What makes a preacher are listed in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.

God did not make exceptions to those criterion listed in those chapters.

The failure of the many examples

Besides the gifts of the Spirit and other examples used above, the supporters for women preachers cite many examples to justify their position. The go to the Old Testament and select Deborah. Then the go the New and find a host of examples like Tabitha, Lydia, Priscilla, to name but a few examples.

The failure made by those supporters in this situation is that none of those women are recorded as disobeying God’s rules on who could lead the people in his temple and church.

Deborah may have been a judge, but she was never made a priestess in the temple. God restricted that positions to the sons of Levi. The New testament examples were of different employment but none of them were recorded as preaching and leading a church.

They are recorded as accepting Jesus’ teaching and being strong supporters, as well as assisting in the furthering of the faith but none of them were listed as preachers, and so on.

To say they were is again erroneous and misguided eisegesis not solid and truthful exegesis.

One more failure to list

Finally, the supporters of women preachers seem to ignore Peter’s mother-in-law. Matthew 8:13-15. She was sick and Jesus healed her. But what did she do after she was healed? She certainly did not get up and go preach in the church or lead one.

Instead Matthew says that she got up after being healed and served Jesus. The NASB says waited on him. In other words, she did not violate God’s rules either but did what she could for Jesus.

Some final words

This debate will never go away and no matter how many articles are written to show the truth, there will always be someone who wants to see women promoted to preacher, pastor or church leader.

With no biblical foundation their efforts only serve to allow evil to divide the church and ruin its mission. We cannot allow that to happen. The church needs to get back to being obedient to God’s word and his instructions.

There is no other way for the church to make an impact for Jesus if it continues to ignore what he has written through his apostles. The New Testament passages in both Titus and 1 Timothy are not Paul’ s personal words or opinion.

They are the words Christ gave him to say when he was made an apostle of Christ’s. They need to be obeyed as well if the church is going to succeed.


© 2020 David Thiessen

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