Are Women Pastors/Preachers? What Does The Bible Say About Women Pastors?
Perhaps there is no topic more vigorously debated than that of women as pastors/preachers in today’s time. Therefore, it is crucial to not look at this issue as a male vs female one. Some women consider that women shouldn’t serve as pastors. And Bible prohibits women from serving in the church, and some men believe that women can and should serve as ministers. There is no restriction on women. It is not a matter of superiority or discrimination, and this is a matter of interpretation of the Bible.
God’s Word declares, “One must learn in silence with complete submission. I say not to teach, nor to command men, but to be silent” (1 Timothy 2:11-12). God assigns different roles to women and men in the church, resulting from how man was created and how sin entered the world (1 Timothy 2:13–14). Through the apostle Paul’s writings, God restricts women’s right to spiritual education over men. It forbids women to be pastors over men, including everything from preaching to teaching and having spiritual authority.
There are many objections to the view that women are in the pastoral ministry. A common objection is that Paul prohibited women from teaching because women were exclusively uneducated in the first century. Although 1 Timothy 2:11–14 does not mention educational level anywhere. If education were the only qualification for the ministry, most of Jesus’ disciples would not be qualified. Another common objection is that Paul forbade only women from the Ephesians to teach (1 Timothy’s letter to Timothy, the pastor of the Ephesian church).
The city of Ephesus was known for its temple to the goddess Artemis, and women were officials in this branch of idolatry. So the view is that Paul was only banning the female-led practice of the pagan idolaters of the Ephesians, And the church needed to be different. But even so, the book of 1 Timothy does not mention Artemis anywhere, nor does Paul refer to the standard practice of Artemis worshipers as the reason for the ban in 1 Timothy 2:11-12.
A third common objection is that Paul addressed only husbands and wives, not men and women in general. One can easily attribute these to the Greek words for “husbands” and “wives” in 1 Timothy 2. But still, the basic meaning of those words is very broad. Furthermore, the same Greek words are used in verses 8–10. Are only husbands told to raise their hands and pray without anger and controversy (verse 8)? Should only wives, with beautiful clothes, do good deeds, worship God (verses 9–10)? Certainly not. Verses 8-10 explicitly address ordinary men and women, not just husbands and wives. There is nothing in the context of verses 11-14 that refers only to husbands and wives.
There is another objection to this interpretation regarding women’s pastoral ministry, especially those holding leadership positions in the Bible, especially Mary, Deborah, Huldah in the Old Testament. God indeed chose these women to do special things for him, and they stand as examples of faith, enthusiasm, and, yes, leadership. But even then, the rights of Old Testament women are not relevant to the topic of church pastors. The epistles of the New Testament are the new example for God’s people – the church, the body of Christ – and this example includes the special structure of church officials, not the nation of Israel or any other Old Testament authority.
Similar arguments are used for Priscilla and Phoebe in the New Testament. In Acts chapter 18, Priscilla and Aquila are presented as faithful servants of Christ. Priscilla’s name is mentioned earlier, indicating that she was more important in the ministry than her husband. Did Priscilla and her husband share the gospel of Jesus Christ with Apollos? Yes, they “told him the way of God even more accurately” (Acts 18:26) in his home. Does the Bible ever say that Priscilla served as pastor in a church, taught publicly, or became a spiritual leader of a congregation of saints? As far as we know, Priscilla was not actively involved in any ministry in contradiction to 1 Timothy 2:11–14.
In Romans 16:1, Phoebe is called the “deacon” (or servant) in the church and is highly recommended by Paul. But as with Priscilla, no such verse in Scripture indicates that Phoebe was a pastor or a teacher in the men’s church. To be “able to teach” is a qualification bestowed upon elders, not deacons (1 Timothy 3:1; Titus 1:6-9).
The framework of 1 Timothy 2:11-14 makes it very clear why women cannot be fully pastors of the church. Verse 13 begins with the word “because” and refers to the “reason” that Paul referred to in his statement in verses 11-12. Why don’t women preach and command men? The reason is that “Adam was created first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but guilty of being deceived” (verses 13-14). God created Adam first and Eve to be Adam’s “helper”. This order of creation applies to the family of mankind and the church as a whole (Ephesians 5:22–23).
The fact that Eve was deceived is also taken as a reason in 1 Timothy 2:14 that women should not act as pastors or have spiritual control over men. This does not mean that women are very naive or are more easily deceived than men. If women are easily seduced, why are they allowed to teach boys (who can be easily seduced) and other women (who can be more easily seduced than imagined)? Scripture only says that women are forbidden to preach or exercise spiritual control over men because Eve was deceived. God has given men the primary authority to preach in the church.
Women excel in the gifts of hospitality, kindness, teaching, evangelism and help. Much of the ministry of a church is dependent on women. Women in the church are not restricted to public prayers or prophesying (1 Corinthians 11:5), only the right of men to preach spiritual teachings. Nowhere in the Bible does it prohibit women from practicing the gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians chapter 12). Women are also called, like men, to do to others and to display the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and to proclaim the gospel to the lost (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; 1 Peter 3:15). (What Does The Bible Say About Women Pastors?)
God ordained that only men would hold positions of authority in the church for spiritual education. This is not because men are better teachers or women are inferior or less intelligent (when they are not). This is just a simple way God has created for the church’s work. Men are to set an example in their lives—and through their words—in spiritual guidance. Women have to handle a less empowered role. Women are encouraged to instruct the women around them (Titus 2:13 – 3)). The Bible also doesn’t prohibit women from teaching children. The only job for which women are prohibited is teaching or exercising spiritual authority over men, and women are not permitted to be pastors over men. This in no way deems women of less importance but gives them consent to concentrate on the ministry according to God’s plan and His gifts.