Is a Woman truly forbidden to speak in Church?

It all begins with the basic question – What counts as preaching or teaching?

We are all mandated to spread the Gospel as part of the great commission so in essence, we are all called to evangelize the effectiveness of the gospel which is found in preaching and as many ask about teaching also goes hand in hand.

The question will be in terms of mixed-gender or organized crowds like that being in a visible Church/assembly setting which now pertains in ways to leadership roles in the New Testament Church.

The Bible is clear that the OFFICE of a Pastor / Bishop / Elder / Deacon is a man’s role, a husband of one wife.

1 Timothy 3:1-13 (KJV) – 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; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

This chapter does not say that a woman is not a allowed to speak of things of God, or give their testimony of faith. In fact, godly women have a large and important role in the work of God and they are honoured and shown to have important roles in relation for an example to a Pastor she is as equivalence in importance in that:

1. A man cannot hold the office of a pastor , deacon or assistant pastor if he is not married to a godly woman which the bible speaks in the highest as a virtuous woman (Proverbs 31).

Women is designed specifically from God that not even men can muster. Relating to heart matters, women are often the natural evangelists, they are the keepers of home and they are the first teachers to children since they are apt to emotionally connect more.

But the Bible soundly speaks of the limitations in the ministry for women in 1 Timothy 2:12 “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence,”

2. The woman is not allowed to usurp authority over the man, (“men” is in reference to an adult, not to be confused with male children). Obviously, she can never hold a position in church leadership. One of the qualifications of a pastor/elder is that the officeholder be “the husband of one wife” (1 Tim. 3:2, 12).

3. The woman is not allowed to teach men in the manner of a man grown in the Lord. But she can always remind, encourage, warn. However, teaching in the manner of doctrine and authority is a different area. The women who arrived first at Christ’s empty tomb were told to go and tell the male disciples that Jesus had risen (Matt. 28:7-8). This does not mean we can ignore plain restrictions in other passages, such as 1 Timothy 2:12, but it does tell us that women can testify to men under certain conditions. What 1 Timothy 2:12 means is that the woman cannot teach with authority. That is the context. Examples of this would be teaching from the pulpit, teaching mixed Sunday School classes, teaching in Bible conferences to mixed crowds of men and women, and teaching at mixed Bible college classes. When a woman stands before a mixed crowd that includes men and opens the Bible and preaches or teaches, she is taking authority. There is not a more authoritative thing in the world than to teach and preach the Bible, and God’s Word forbids a woman to do this in this setting. This can be challenging to put in proper order and in soundness especially considering the times of today. We will need to look back in the Bible for guidance.

God tells us the reason for these limitations:

1 Tim. 2:13-14 – “For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression,”

First, the order of creation requires these limitations (v. 13). The woman was created after the man to be his helpmate and not his head. Second, the nature of the woman requires these limitations (v. 14). The woman was not created to lead but to serve, and she was given the equipment to do the latter, not the former. As a result, she is more easily deceived, as Eve was.

2 Timothy 3:6 – For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,

This verse warns that women need to realise that in essence, they can be deceived. This is not to say that men cannot be deceived, but the Bible holds a great warning and caution on women. In Genesis 3, we see that one of Devil’s greatest attacks on the men is through the women. It is therefore very important that the woman must not in any way be given place in leadership over men.

The Blessing of the Woman’s Ministry

Though there are restrictions upon the woman’s ministry in the Word of God, there are also many encouragements for the woman to serve the Lord. Women are exceedingly valuable in this world and in the service of Christ. Consider some of the ways that God has used women: It was a woman who brought Jesus into the world.

  • Many women assisted Jesus during His earthly ministry (Lk. 8:2-3).
  • It was a woman who anointed Jesus for His burial prior to His death (Mat. 26:6-13).
  • It was mostly women who stood at the cross (Mat. 27:55-56).
  • It was women who observed Jesus’ burial and who came to anoint Jesus after He was dead (Lk. 23:55-56).
  • It was women who first came to the empty tomb and first believed the resurrection (Mat. 28:1-6).
  • It was women who first reported the resurrection (Mat. 28:7-8).
  • Women were waiting with the men in the upper room for the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:14). Women are very, very important in church work, too (Romans 16:1-5). Many of the first Christians were women (Acts 17:4, 12), such as Lydia the first convert of Asia (Acts 16:14).
  • Women can teach other women (Titus 2:3-5).
  • Women can teach children. Women such as Lois and Eunice trained up young workers for the Lord (2 Tim. 1:5).
  • Women can witness and bring sinners to Christ (John 4:28-30).
  • Women are essential in the work of building strong spiritual homes so that the Church is thereby strengthened in the Lord.
  • Women are to set as godly examples so as they may win over their unbelieving spouses (1 Peter 3:1-7, 1 Cor 7:13-14)

Consider three Bible examples:

  1. Lydia is an example of a godly woman who is a blessing to the work of God (Acts 16:12-15, 40). She was the first convert in Philippi. She then influenced her entire household to trust Christ. After she was saved she begged Paul and Silas to stay as guests in her home. The Bible says “she constrained” them. This means she was a very persuasive woman! The church at Philippi started in Lydia’s home. In Acts 16:40, when Paul and Silas were loosed from jail they came first to Lydia’s home and there they “comforted the brethren.” It is obvious that this is where the church was accustomed to meet. This godly businesswoman was a very important member of the early churches.
  2. Phebe is another example (Rom. 16:1-2). She was a servant of the church at Cenchrea, which was near Corinth. This teaches us the importance of faithfulness to the church, the body of our Lord Jesus Christ – we serve Him in this world through the church. Those who despise the church (body of born-again believers) today despise the work of God. When we see her in Romans 16, Phebe was doing the work of the Lord. She was on business pertaining to Paul. Many believe that she was carrying the Epistle of Romans. Paul instructed the believers to treat her with respect and to give her whatever assistance she needed.
  3. Priscilla worked with her husband in starting churches (Romans 16:3-5). She assisted her husband in instructing Apollos (Acts 18:24-26). In some passages Paul mentions Priscilla first, before her husband (Acts 18:18; Rom. 16:3). This might mean that she was the more zealous of the two, or it could mean that her husband spent more of his time with the tent business while she spent more of her time in the spiritual ministry, or it could mean that Paul was closer to her. Whatever the reason, it is a fact that Paul honored her and valued her as a servant of the Lord.

How Men are to Treat Women in the Church

As we can see in the earlier references, men are just as to respect the women in the church and not lord over them, but to set as worthy examples (1 Peter 5:3). God made the men to:

  • Provide for the women (1 Tim 5:8, Proverbs 3:27)
  • Love her as Christ love the Church (Eph 5:25-33)
  • Not to mistreat or abuse her else God will hinder his prayers (Colossians 3:19, 1 Peter 3:7, Proverbs 10:11)
  • Lead her, protect her and be the head over her (1 Cor 11:3, Eph 5:23)
  • Treat the elderly women and the widows in the Church with respect and dignity (1 Timothy 5)

Conclusion

Women are just as important in service to the Lord as are men, and God has tasked her with differing roles compared to that of men. All born again believers are members of the body of Christ and are not insignificant to one another:

1 Cor 12:13-27 – For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked. That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

Whether we are Jews, Gentiles, men, women, bond or free, for we are all one in Christ:

Galatians 3:28-29 – There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

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