Women in Christian Ministry

Arguments & Explanations

Traditionally, women were not permitted to exercise Christian ministry, or to teach men. This however changed within the last decades, and more and more churches institute women ministers and pastors. The following two scriptures are at the centre of the controversy whether or not women should be allowed in the ministry or not.

“Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” (1 TIMOTHY 2:11-14)

“Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” (1 CORINTHIANS 14:34-35)

The following conclusions can be drawn from these two scriptures:

  1. A woman should be silent in the church. This is specified and doesn’t necessarily mean to be completely silent but rather not to teach.
  2. A woman should not usurp authority over the man.
  3. The reason for this is that God made Adam first and that the woman is more susceptible to be deceived than the man.

If this is so clear, how could people re-interpret these scriptures and what other scriptures do they use to justify their position to allow women as ministers? Let’s discuss the main arguments.


Argument 1:1

Surely the Bible doesn’t teach that a woman should be completely silent in the church.
Women speak in the church in spiritual gifts and prayer (1 CORINTHIANS 11:5“But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head.”).
Women must be included in 1 CORINTHIANS 14:26, “… everyone of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation.”
ACTS 2:17 says that in the last days “your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.” Philip the evangelist had four daughters who prophesied (ACTS 21:9).

Answer

As the Bible doesn’t contradict itself, we must find out what exactly a woman is allowed to say in the church. Therefore a study of the Greek words for teach / preach / prophesy etc. is in order. For the interested reader this is presented in the appendix. Whoever doesn’t want to spend too much time with the Greek, here are the results:

  • A woman may (and should) preach to heathens. “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season” (2 TIMOTHY 4:2) certainly applies to women as well.
  • A woman may teach other women. “…that they may teach the young women to be sober” (TITUS 2:4).
  • A woman may pray and contribute in the application of the spiritual gifts during a church service. (1 CORINTHIANS 11:5)
  • But a woman is NOT allowed to assume the position of teacher, with the man subordinated to the role of student, giving her authority over the man. (1 TIMOTHY 2:12)

Argument 2:

The words teach and teacher occur 119 times in the New Testament. Among all these passages there is only one which forbids women to teach, namely 1 TIMOTHY 2:12.
“But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”
However, Paul refers in this passage not to women teaching men in general, but to wives abusing their influence (sex wiles) over their husbands.
Other scriptures such as MATTHEW 28:19 show that women are actually commanded to teach.
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
This command is directed to all believers, including women.
Likewise, are only male believers included in 1 CORINTHIANS 12:28? “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.”
There is no exclusion of women from teaching such as in COLOSSIANS 3:16: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; TEACHING and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

Answer:

This argument is based on PRESUMPTION and can therefore not be accepted.
Take for example 1 CORINTHIANS 12:28. Among those listed are certainly also women. The Bible mentions female prophets. Women would be included in “diversities of tongues”. But would God set female teachers, contrary to the rest of His Word (unless they would teach other women)? Or would God have women baptize new converts (MATTHEW 28:19) whereas nowhere in the Bible it is mentioned that women baptised anybody?

Looking at the interpretation of 1 TIMOTHY 2:12, several more assumptions are made, namely that it is only addressed to wives (the Greek uses indeed the same word for “woman” and “wife”), not to women in general, and that they should not use their sexual influence over the man as for example Delilah did with Samson or Jezebel with Ahab.
However, v.9 indicates that the passage is addressed to women in general, not only wives. Or should only wives “adorn themselves in modest apparel, … not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls”? Surely this must refer to all women. And while sex can certainly be one way of women exerting influence over men, it does not explain the aspect of teaching, as mentioned in v.12. Rather, teaching is connected with having authority – and God wants women neither to teach nor to have authority over the men. He also gives the reason in v.13 and 14: Adam was first formed, and he was not deceived.

When Adam was placed in the garden, Lucifer, the fallen cherub, was jealous of Adam’s position as master of the renewed planet. Lucifer, having become the Devil, had previously made himself the enemy of God and His program. He did not want God to be successful at replenishing the earth. From the very beginning, it was in the Devil’s dark heart to lure Adam into disobeying His Creator. Satan would make Adam into the same rebel that he himself had been for such a long time. But Satan did not approach Adam. He waited and watched.
When God finished with Adam, he gave him the job of naming all the animals. He commanded the first man not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and he told him to subdue the earth and have dominion over the animal kingdom. His principal job was to dress and keep the garden (GENESIS 2:15). So, even before Eve was created, Adam was a full-grown man, firmly rooted in his relationship with God. and fully engaged in his life’s work.
Adam was alone as he attended to his vocation and obeyed the command of his Creator. In going about the task of fulfilling his duties, he became aware of a need that he could not define, even though he observed it in the male and
female behaviour of the animals. He was lonely. He had no one with whom to share his achievements and conquests. God, in watching Adam, said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” (GENESIS 2:18). God put Adam to sleep and took a rib from his side to make of it a woman to be his helper and to meet his needs.
Satan could have tempted this lonely man at any time, for he had no knowledge of good and evil. But Satan waited – waited for the creation of the weaker vessel. “For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” (1 TIMOTHY 23:13-14). Satan knew that the man could not be deceived, but the woman could. So, when she drew near to the tree, he convinced her that life would be better if she sought the higher sate of being, “like the gods” – gaining spiritual insight into the nature of
good and evil. Eve was deceived in three ways:

1. She followed her flesh in desiring the tree for its food properties.
2. She succumbed to its beauty, desiring it for its pleasant appearance. She did not follow logic; she followed her sensibilities.
3. She wanted deeper spiritual insights than those provided by God.

The source of Eve’s failure was her unwillingness to believe God and her husband. She was meant to be Adam’s helper, but she helped herself to spiritual knowledge and acted independently, becoming his downfall instead of his help meet.
Why did Satan avoid Adam and approach Eve with his offer of greater spirituality? Lucifer is a male being (ISAIAH 14:12-20). He understands the natural resistance of the male. He knows males say “no” just to prove they are in command. But Lucifer could see that this soft, sweet female was vulnerable. God had made her by nature to be responsive, and she was trusting and naïve. Being willing to rationalise, she could be deceived – having the best of intentions. …
God designed the woman to be sensitive and vulnerable for the sake of the little ones whom she must nurture. The soul of a mother had to be vulnerable, the outer shell thin. She must be quick to feel, to hurt, to love, to have compassion, to take in the broken, and to believe the best. Vulnerability is a woman’s greatest natural asset and the point of her greatest weakness. A woman can become tough and hard, sceptical, and cautious in relationships, just like a man. She can become guarded and cynical, but in so doing, she is no longer feminine, no longer attractive to a man, and she will even begin to not like herself. Unprotected by the covering of her husband, she will grow miserable fighting her own battles and trying to survive on equal footing with men. Just look at the faces and mannerisms of outspoken feminists and lesbians. In their attempt to shed their vulnerability and express their independence, feminists begin to exhibit traits and behaviours completely outside of their created feminine nature. They lose their beauty and charm, and become very poor excuses of men.

From “Created To Be His Help Meet”, by Debi Pearl, No Greater Joy Ministries, 2004, p. 106-108

Argument 3:

1 CORINTHIANS 14 is in some parts a quotation of a previous letter sent by the Corinthians to Paul. This is the case in v. 34, 35.
“Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”
The Bible allows women to speak in the church. The expressions “it is not permitted” and “as also saith the law” don’t refer therefore to the Bible, but the Talmudic law. In the Old Testament, women like Miriam, Deborah, Huldah and Esther spoke directly or indirectly to the nation. The daughters of Zelophehad spoke to the whole nation. As a result, Moses sought God who said, “The daughters of Zelphehad speak right.” (NUMBERS 27:7). And the law of inheritance was amended. So under the Biblical law, women could and did speak to men.
In v.34 and 35 Paul is quoting the words of Judaizers in Corinth, who were teaching that women must be silent in the Church because of the Jewish Rabbinical Law. This is clearly brought out by the opening word of v.36: “What? came the word of God out from you? Or came it unto you only?”

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When Miriam prophesied it was to “all the women” that went out after her (EXODUS 15:20), and there is no evidence that she preached to men.

Though Huldah was a prophetess, the solitary record of her prophesying involved some men going to her where they communed privately (2 KINGS 22:14ff; 2 CHRONICLES 34:22ff). It is impossible to find public preaching here.

Anna was a prophetess “who departed not from the temple” (LUKE 2:36-38). In describing the temple, Josephus (Wars, 5,5,2) says “there was a partition built for the women” that separated them from the men; this was “the proper place wherein they were to worship.” It is therefore highly unlikely that she publicly preached to mixed audiences.

Deborah was a prophetess of the hill country of Ephraim, but there is no indication that she publicly proclaimed God’s message to the multitudes; rather, “the children of Israel came unto her for judgment” (JUDGES 4:5). She gave prophetic judgment as a “mother in Israel” (JUDGES 5:7). The fact that she judged at all is a dramatic commentary on the sickening weakness of the Israelites during this period, and Deborah’s song (JUDGES 5) laments this woeful condition. This was but one of those occasions where God accommodated His working to Israel’s weaknesses (cf. 1 SAMUAL. 8:9; MATTHEW 19:8).

With regard to the example of Zelphehad’s daughters and Esther, the Bible does not give any evidence that these women were in any form of authority over men or teaching men.

It was claimed that there is no such a law in the Old Testament that the woman is under obedience to the man. This is not true! Eve was created to be the help meet to Adam (GENESIS 2:18). In the very beginning of the Bible is the role of man and woman defined. “Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” (GENESIS 3:16)

If the statements made in 1 CORINTHIANS 14:34-35 are so unscriptural, why are they then repeated in 1 TIMOTHY 2:11-12, this time without any reference to a letter: “Let the woman learn in silence” and “I suffer not a woman to teach”? In trying to argue for women being allowed to teach, the above points seem to be quite bold in their assertion that these scriptures are "unbiblical".
In fact, the two Bible passages are completely parallel as shown below. As the truth rests on two or three witnesses, and since the two scriptures present the truth in almost identical way, it is not possible to read something else into them or re-interpret one of the scriptures.

A Comparison: 1 CORINTHIANS 14 & 1 TIMOTHY 2

1 CORINTHIANS 14 1 TIMOTHY 2
Let your women keep silence in the churches Let the woman learn in silence
For it is not permitted unto them to speak But I suffer not a woman to teach
but they are commanded to be under obedience nor to usurp authority over the man
As also saith the law For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman …

Argument 4:

GALATIANS 3:27- 28 tells us that in Christ there is no difference between races or gender.
“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 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.”
Special qualification for service to God doesn’t come from being male, but from the new birth. All anointing comes from God, and He gives it to both males and females. Therefore if God gives special gifts to women, they should be used as teachers, apostles, pastors, etc. in the same way as men.

Answer:

This is a classical example of taking a scripture out of context and using it for a different purpose. The subject of GALATIANS 3 is freedom from the law and justification by faith through the promise made to Abraham. And GALATIANS 3:27- 28 speaks in that connection about the fact that we are all equally justified by faith if we are in Christ. But it doesn’t say that all the differences of race, social position or gender are suddenly taken away. As a matter of fact, the Bible commends new converts to remain in the same social status they had before their conversion. “Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God…. Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.” (1 CORINTHAINS 7:24.21).
God gave men and women different roles, and men don’t suddenly turn into women or vice versa after being born again. Scriptures like 1 CORINTHIANS 11:3 would be pointless if there was no difference.
“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.”

 Women, in general, give the appearance of being more spiritual than men. They like to dabble in soulish thoughts. There are many ways of expressing spirituality, but most of them have nothing to do with the Spirit of Jesus Christ. We ladies are more inclined to trust in our feelings and intuition than are men, which makes us more subject to deception. Feelings and intuitions are ever-changing. The Word of God is objective and dogmatic – unchanging. It is to religion what hard facts are to science.
… God so graciously gave us the example of Miriam, Moses’ sister. Her desire to be on an equal footing with Moses has left her name in infamy, for our admonition (1 CORINTHIANS 10:6,10) and “for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (ROMANS 15:4). … The bottom line is that women “enjoy” their own self-effusing spirituality. It is a feminine trait that few men share or understand. Men can, however, become totally absorbed in their own personal ambitions and, in the process, neglect their “spiritual” side altogether. Women often see this “carnality” in men and assume that women, being more “spiritually” minded, are closer to God – a completely false assumption.
Nearly all spiritualists, past and present, are women. Women are the palm readers, crystal ball gazers, fortune tellers, and tarot card readers. Witches’ covens are headed by women. Most mediums (those contacting the dead) are women, as was the witch of Endor whom King Saul consulted concerning long-dead Samuel. When Jesus spoke a parable about the kingdom becoming corrupted with false doctrine, He illustrated it with a woman bringing in the corruption (MATTHEW 13:33). In the book of Revelation, it is a woman, typically called Jezebel, who deceives the church. We are told that she did it through her teaching. John wrote to the church of Thyatira and warned them against allowing that woman Jezebel to teach (REVELATION 2:20). Women are either directly or indirectly responsible for most of the past and present cults in Christianity.
The Bible makes a point of revealing the inherent nature of women when it gives a reason why women should not teach men: “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” (1 TIMOTHY 2:14).
That a man is less sensitive than a woman does not make him inferior to her, nor does her being more subject to deception than her husband make her inferior to him – just different natures. It is in recognising that difference that wives should fear God and distrust their natural tendencies. Things that are not the same have different capacities and different offices.

From “Created To Be His Help Meet”, by Debi Pearl, No Greater Joy Ministries, 2004, p. 109-110

Argument 5:

There are some women mentioned in the New Testament who hold offices.
“I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea.” (ROMANS 16:1). The Greek word for “servant” here is “diakonos”, so Phoebe was a deaconess. Also in v.2 it is mentioned that the churches are to assist her, implying that she had some authority. Phoebe is called a “succourer” the Greek word of which really means “leader”.
“I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel…” (PHILIPPIANS 4:2-3) Euodia and Syntyche laboured with Paul in the gospel. That means they must have had an office.

The married couple Aquila and Priscilla became Paul’s fellow-labourers (ACTS 18). Whenever Aquila is mentioned his wife is also mentioned. In ROMANS 16:3 and 2 TIMOTHY 4:19, the name of Priscilla even stands first. She must have been the leading figure of the two.
“Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles…” (ROMANS 16:7) So Junia must have been an apostle!

Answer:

Let’s go through each one of the aforementioned examples.
In Phoebe’s case (ROMANS 16:1), it all depends whether the word “diakonos” means the office of a deacon or simply “servant”, “helper”, as translated in the KJV. Since the Greek word “diakonos” can mean both, it must be judged from the context what makes more sense.
In most cases the translation “servant” is self-evident, for example: “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.” (MATTHEW 23:11) “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament.” (2 CORINTHIANS 3:6) “Is therefore Christ the minister of sin?” (GALATIANS 2:17) Even Paul calls himself a “diakonos”: “… whereof I Paul am made a minister.” (COLOSSIANS 1:23), even though he had a higher office. The same goes for Timothy (1 THESSALONIANS 3:2) who was an overseer.
Only in two instances is the office of a “diakonos” (deacon) specifically mentioned (PHILIPPIANS 1:1; 1 TIMOTHY 3:8-13).

Going back to Phoebe’s case, it cannot be completely excluded that she was a deaconess, but more likely Paul calls her a servant, as would be any follower of Christ. Paul’s plea to the saints to assist Phoebe doesn’t involve any form of authority on her part at all, but they were to help a sister who was about to move to a new place and certainly was in need of help.
The Greek word “prostatis” can be translated as “leader” or “succourer”, “helper”. Again it must be decided from the context which one fits best. As in almost all cases, the KJV translators got it right to choose “succourer” as Phebe before already had been called a “servant”. Besides, what sense would it make if Phebe was Paul’s “boss”? “She hath been a succourer (leader???) of many, and of myself (Paul) also.”

The fact that Euodia and Syntyche laboured with Paul in the gospel, again does not imply an authoritorian position at all. Christians are meant to be “God’s fellow-workers (1 CORINTHIANS 3:9). The same can be said of Peter’s mother-in-law, who after she was healed from her fever by Jesus, stood up and served them (the Greek word “diakoneo” is used!).

Although Priscilla and Aquila are mentioned five times in the Bible, Priscilla is never mentioned alone. She is always with her husband. To conclude from the fact that her name is mentioned first in some instances that she had the leading role, would be presumption. She most likely had a supporting role, taking care of the necessities of life while Aquila did the preaching and teaching – a role which is equally important in God’s eyes.

Junia may not even have been a woman, and could just as well have been a man, in which case the name would be Junias. It is impossible to determine this from the Greek. Moreover, it is not even certain that Junia(s) is here identified as an apostle. The phrase “of note among the apostles” rather means that Andronicus and Junia(s) are well-known by the apostles, rather than actually being an apostle.

Argument 6:

During church history, women have been used mightily to spread the gospel and found churches. More recent examples are Kathryn Kuhlman, Maria Woodworth-Etter, or Aimee Semple McPherson. Surely God supported their ministry even though they were women. This proves that women can hold offices of authority in the church.

Answer:

While these and other women were indeed used in an extraordinary way by God, their ministry was mainly an evangelistic one, directed to convert heathens and not to establish churches, (with Aimee Semple McPherson the most notable exception). It can be claimed that they had at least some sort of authority over men. The fact that they were women leading a work in Christ, contributed likely to the controversies their ministries were involved in. In Aimee Semple McPherson’s case, the controversies really began when she started to establish a church, the Angelus Temple in Los Angeles. As long as she was just evangelising across America, she was well within God’s call for her as a woman.

One of the main reasons God used these women was the lack of men that God could use. Kathryn Kuhlman said of herself that she was willing to pay the price in order to be totally used by the Lord. Therefore, He was able to manifest more fully in her services than in the services of many other ministers. Kathryn Kuhlman referred to herself as “God’s handmaiden”. “And on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.” (ACTS 2:18) To her, “prophesy” was telling the good news or preaching, not foretelling. She stated many times that she did not believe she was God’s first choice for the ministry, nor even His second or third choice. She believed that God had called some man to carry forth the work, but that man was unwilling to pay the price. However, she did step up and respond to God’s call.3

Another remarkable woman who was (and is being) used by God in Hongkong is Jackie Pullinger. As she started up a work all on her own, she had to teach and train all the converts. But as soon as some of the men were able to lead the work, she stepped more and more into the background so the men could take over.

“It is on the very grounds that women can be effective public ministers that God commands them not to do so. It is not a question of being qualified; it is a matter of being authorised. God has established an order for the home, a chain of command that is consistent with the very nature of men and women. It is an order from the throne of heaven that is healthiest and best for the rearing of children and for the good of marital relationships. For the woman to become the channel of spiritual blessings is to put her into a position not suited to the nature of her created being. If she is effective as a replacement for her husband’s ineffective leadership, that makes it all the more wrong! For then she is, as the Bible says, usurping authority over the man – usurping glory … usurping honour … usurping control … usurping leadership. That is, she is doing what a man should be doing, and thus is getting the recognition a man should get. It is an inversion of God’s design for males and females.”4


Summary:

That women are not meant to have positions of authority, is very clear from the Bible. Holders of offices in the Bible are men, and not women.
“A bishop (overseer) must be … the husband of one wife … “ (1 TIMOTHY 3:2)
“Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife.” (1 TIMOTHY 3:12)
The criterion for elders is among others, “the husband of one wife” (TITUS 1:7).

The Bible warns against the risks associated with women in positions of authority. As the example of Eve shows, women are easier to be deceived.

“As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.” (ISAIAH 3:12)

Women may rise to great heights in the social or political field. Remember, one of Britain's greatest Prime Ministers (Margaret Thatcher) was a woman! But the role of women in “oversight” of an assembly or church is clear. Jesus chose only male apostles, and Paul spoke of men as overseers/bishops/presbyters. Women could possibly be deacons/ministers, ROMANS 16:1. A deaconess (“servant of the church”), yes, but not in authority, as an overseer would (1 TIMOTHY 2:12). It must be repeated as a summary of the discussion above: Women are not allowed to preach or teach in the gatherings of the church when adult males are present.

This study has only dealt with the negative aspect of women not allowed to be in a position of authority. However, there is a positive side of the role of the woman in the Bible. Aquila would have been less effective without Priscilla. Paul’s ministry depended on women like Lydia who provided their houses as meeting places and shelters. Jesus spent a lot of time in the house of Martha and Maria and was busy teaching them. Women stayed faithfully with Him at His crucifixion while most other men had left Him. Jesus appeared first to women after His resurrection.
In order not to give the impression that women should only be found at home “in the kitchen”, we quote at the end an exhortation by Maria Woodworth-Etter regarding the importance of women.

“My dear sister in Christ, as you hear these words may the Spirit of Christ come upon you, and make you willing to do the work the Lord has assigned to you. It is high time for women to let their lights shine; to bring out their talents that have been hidden away rusting; and use them for the glory of God, and do with their might what their hands find to do, trusting God for strength, Who has said, ‘I will never leave you.’ Let us not plead weakness; God will use the weak things of the world to confound the wise. We are sons and daughters of the Most High God. Should we not honor our high calling and do all we can to save those who sit in the valley and shadow of death?”5

 Appendix

Investigation of Greek words meaning “teach” or “preach”

1. didasko = “teach”

This is the main word denoting “teach”. It implies a position of higher status or higher knowledge on the side of the one who teaches, such as a teacher towards his students or Jesus towards His disciples. The noun “didaskalos” (teacher) is often applied to Jesus, even by His opponents and is mostly translated “master” in the KJV.

The position of authority that “didasko” implies becomes also apparent by the people it is applied to.

  • First and foremost Jesus: MATTHEW 4:23; 5:2; 7:29; 9:35; 11:1; 13:54; 21:23; 22:16; 26:55; etc. Jesus called “didaskalos”” MATTHEW 8:19; 9:11; 10:24; 12:38; etc.
  • Jesus commanded His disciples to teach others: MATTHEW 28:20: “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”
  • The Holy Ghost teaches: LUKE 12:12; JOHN 14:26; 1 JOHN 2:27
  • The apostles taught (this is often translated “preached” in the KJV): ACTS 4:2; 5:21; 5:25; 5:28: 5:42; 11:26:15:35; 18:11; etc.
  • True disciples teach (or preach): MATTHEW 28:20; 2 TIMOTHY 2:2
  • Also false teachers: ACTS 15:1; TITUS 1:11; REVELATION 2:20. MATTHEW 5:19: “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (MATTHEW 15:9)

There is also the ministry of a teacher (didaskalos): ROMANS 12:7; ACTS 13:1; 1 CORINTHIANS 12:28, 29; EPHESIANS 4:11

What about TITUS 2:3 where the aged women are exhorted to be “teachers of good things” (kalodidaskalos)? However, TITUS 2:4 specifies that it is in relation to other women: “… that they may teach the young women …”

1 TIMOTHY 2:12 makes it clear that teaching is connected with a position of authority and that therefore women are not allowed to teach. “But I suffer not a woman to teach (didasko), nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”

2. matheteuo = “be or make a disciple”; “teach”

The noun form “mathetes” (“student” or “disciple) is the opposite of “didaskalos” (teacher). While “matheteuo” is often translated “teach” or “instruct”, its original meaning is “make a disciple”.

Joseph of Arimathea was “Jesus’ disciple” (or literally “made into a disciple by Jesus”) - MATTHEW 27:57

Paul and Barnabas ‘taught many’ (made many disciples) – ACTS 14:21

MATTHEW 28:19: “Go ye therefore, and teach (“matheteuo” – make them disciples) all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

3. katangelo = “pronounce”; “teach”; “preach”
  • The apostles preached the resurrection of Jesus – ACTS 4;2
  • Paul and Barnabas preached the Word of God – ACTS 13:5; 15:36; 17:13; the forgiveness of sin – ACTS 13:38; the way of salvation – ACTS 16:17; Jesus – ACTS 17:3; COLOSSIANS 1:28; light – ACTS 26:23; the testimony of God – 1 CORINTHIANS 2:1
  • All the Christians pronounce the Lord’s death at the communion – 1 CORINTHIANS 11:26
  • They which preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel – 1 CORINTHIANS 9:14

There is no reference of “katangelo” to women. However, women also participate in the communion pronouncing the Lord’s death. It is obvious that thereby no position of authority is involved.

4. katecheo = “sound against”; “instruct”
  • Theophilus was instructed in the Gospel - LUKE 1:4;
  • Apollos was instructed in the way of the Lord - ACTS 18:25; GALATIANS 6:6
  • the Jews were instructed out of the law – ROMANS 2:18
  • the Jews were informed about Paul – ACTS 21:21.24
  • Paul wants to teach others – 1 CORINTHIANS 14:19. “Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.”
5. paideuo = “train”; “teach”

Is in the KJV translated in the following ways:

  • chastise LUKE 23:16.22; 1 CORINTHIANS 11:32; 2 CORINTHIANS 6:9; HEBREWS 12:6; REVELATION 3:19
  • learned ACTS 7:22; 22:3
  • learn not to blaspheme 1 TIMOTHY 1:20
  • instruct 2 TIMOTHY 2:25
  • teach TITUS 2:12

The word is related to “pais” = “child” and refers to the ways parents bring up their children in disciplining and training them.

God chastises / trains us, His children: 1 CORINTHIANS 11:32; HEBREWS 12:6: REVELATION 3:19
Moses was brought up / trained in all the wisdom of the Egyptians – ACTS 7:22
Paul was brought up / trained in the law – ACTS 22:3

“Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” TITUS 2:12

6. euangelizo = “preach the Gospel”

preach the Gospel – MATTHEW 11:5; LUKE 4:18, etc. etc.

Preaching the Gospel obviously includes also women.

“As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word." (ACTS 8:3,4)

7. diangello = “preach”; “declare”

preach - the kingdom of God – LUKE 9:60
declare – ROMANS 9:17

8. dialegomai = “dispute”; “discuss”; “preach”
dispute – the apostles among themselves MARK 9:34
  Paul with the Jews – ACTS 17:2; ACTS 18:4; ACTS 19:8; ACTS 24:12
Preach - Paul to the disciples in Troas ACTS 20:7.9
9. kerusso = “pronounce”; “preach”
preach - John in the wilderness – MATTHEW 3:1
  Jesus – 4:17.23; 9:35; etc.
  The disciples – ACTS 8:5; ACTS 9:20; ACTS 13:21; ACTS 19:13; etc.
10. laleo = “speak”

rarely translated ‘preach’: MARK 2:2; ACTS 8:25; 13:42; 14:25; 16:6 he preached the word

Related to women:

1 CORINTHIANS 14:34: “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak (lalein); but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”

This scripture should be taken together with its parallel scripture in 1 TIMOTHY 2:12, whereby it becomes clear that “speaking” means “teaching”. A woman is not forbidden to speak in general in the church, as long as “no authority is usurped”.

11. sofronizo = “bring someone to his/her senses”; “teach”

Appears only once in the New Testament: “That they (the aged women) may teach the young women to be sober.” TITUS 2:4

Superficially seen, this might look like an example of women teaching. But the word “sofronizo” does not really mean “teach”, but “make something clear by appealing to reason”. Secondly it is anyway only in relation to other women.

  • 1. Most of the arguments are taken from the book “Neither Male Nor Female”, by Q.M. Adams, Christ for the Nations, Dallas, TX, 1973
  • 2. Taken in part from Wayne Jackson, Woman’s Role in the Church, March 16, 2000, 3. Roberts Liardon: Kathryn Kuhlman, Whitaker House, Laguna Hills, CA, 1990, p. 52
  • 4. “Created To Be His Help Meet”, by Debi Pearl, No Greater Joy Ministries, 2004, p. 119
  • 5. Maria Woodworth-Etter, “A Sermon for Women,” A Diary of Signs & Wonders (Tulsa, OK: Harrison House, reprinted from 1916 ed.), 215-216, 30-31