The topic of whether women are allowed to be pastors in a church is a continuing debate among many denominations. Throughout the centuries, theologians have studied this issue and have come to the majority conclusion that pastoral duties are for men.
However, despite this, there are still arguments being raised that women, too, can be pastors. What does the Bible tell us about this topic?
What Does the Bible Say about Women Pastors?
In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he says, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet” (1 Timothy 2:12).
Although the manner of Paul’s communication was direct in saying that women cannot teach, have authority over men, and should keep quiet, this does not mean that a woman cannot serve God and His Church. Paul further elaborates this in his letter to the Philippians,
Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life (Philippians 4:3).
Since Paul explicitly said that women cannot preach and be pastors in the Church, what then can women do in the Church? The answer to this is that the Bible emphasizes that women can teach about spiritual matters. Another perfect example of this is Priscilla as written in Acts 18:26:
He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.
This Bible verse actually talks about Apollos as he was preaching. Let us go back to Acts 18:24-25:
Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John.
The scenario is that Apollos was preaching but was not clear in his knowledge about the gospel and that is why Priscilla and Aquila invited him to their home to further explain the gospel.
The verse mentions Priscilla first then her husband, Aquila; notably Priscilla, too, had a wide knowledge about the gospel just as her husband did.
Women in Ministry
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, Paul said that women pray and prophesy in church meetings:
But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head — it is the same as having her head shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.
A man ought not to cover his head since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God (1 Corinthians 11:5-12).
This means that a woman is particularly important in church meetings and ministry, but, according to Paul to Timothy, not in preaching and being a pastor in front of the denomination. Instead, women are called for support in the calling of being a pastor and a preacher.
Paul’s command in his letter to Timothy is backed up in his writing, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve” (1 Timothy 2:13).
The passage means that there is a difference in the roles of the Church between men and women as with how God created men and women. God created Adam to have the responsibility to take care of Eden while He created Eve to help in the shared responsibility.
Women have a huge responsibility in the Church. Women are in charge of making sure that the pastors, preachers, and leaders in the Church are good stewards. Support, here, means being loving servants of God and His Church and to make sure that the leaders do their jobs with honor.
The Children of God and His Church
We are reminded by this in Ephesians 5:22-25, as it is written,
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
This passage emphasizes how important the role of women in the Church is, and it also implies how men should do their roles similarly to how Christ loved the Church. The roles are not a walk in the park. Yes, it is different, but both play a huge part in making the Church a success.
To further affirm this, let us talk about Lydia, the helper in the ministry. In Acts 1:13-15, we meet Lydia as it is written,
On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.
Here we see Lydia as a helper for the advocacy of Paul and his ministry to Christ as she opens her house for the ministry.
We also recall Mary Magdalene, Joanna the wife of Chuza, and Susanna. These women were helping Jesus and were even given the gift of expelling demons. As it is written,
After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means (Luke 8:1-3).
What Does This Mean?
This portion of Scripture does tell us that women should not preach and be pastors, but that they played an important role in the success of the Church. They could help in ministry and be particularly vocal in Church meetings, and they could help nourish the Church and its members and especially make sure that the men did their jobs well by constantly helping them. This on its own is a responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly by Christian women all over the world, then and now.
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Glory Dy has been a content creator for more than 10 years. She lives in a quiet suburb with her family and four cats.