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Women are not second class citizens in the Kingdom of God. In Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female (Gal 3:28). Both men and women have equal standing before God. The Father loves both alike (2 Cor 6:18). The husband and wife are "heirs together of the grace of life" (1 Pet 3:7). Women are not inferior to men, because one is not independent of the other (1 Cor 11:11,12). However, in the life and ministry of the Church there are certain boundaries set for women, for their own and common good. They can prophesy, that is, speak words of "edification, exhortation and comfort" under the anointing of the Spirit (Acts 2:17,18; 21:9; 1 Cor 14:3; 11:5). But the Bible does not permit them to "teach" (1 Tim 2:12). That is, a woman cannot teach doctrines in the Church. The teaching of doctrine carries with it a sense of authority and great responsibility (2 Cor 13:10; Js 3:1). This women are not called to do. Apostle Paul gives the reason why. "Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression" (1 Tim 2:14). Women in general are more prone to deception than men. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians that it was shameful for women to "speak" in Church, he was not referring to prophesying, praying or testifying (1 Cor 14:34,35). The Corinthian women were interrupting the speakers in the Church asking questions. Paul felt it was not decent and orderly. Therefore he suggested that the wives clear their doubts by discussing with their husbands at home (v 40). Each one should remain with God in that calling in which he is called (1 Cor 7:24). Instead of coveting the responsibilities delegated to men, women should specialise in areas where their gifts and talents can be gracefully used for the glory of God. Why touch the forbidden fruit when there are so many other fruits? For example, women can teach women how to fulfil their God-given role at home and in the society (Tit 2:4,5). We need Miriams to lead women in praise and worship (Ex 15:20,21). There is always a scarcity for Dorcases to show love in action (Acts 9:36,39; Prov 31:20). Women can serve as helpers in the ministrial teams, both locally and translocally (Lk 8:1-3; Phil 4:3; Rom 16:6). We read about a deaconess in the Church at Cenchrea (Rom 16:1,2). Undeniably women are the best teachers for children, because of their motherly character (Prov 1:8; 31:28). God has greatly used many women in the mission fields. In a country like India, especially in the rural areas, women alone can reach women. Nearly fifty percent of Indians is women! Wanted women like Anna to go on sharing the message of redemption! (Lk 2:36-38). As long as they don't assume a dominant role, wives are not prohibitted from sharing in the ministry of their husbands, like Priscilla (Acts 18:25,26). They can very well involve in counselling individuals or explaining the Scriptures even to men. The authoritative teaching in the common assembly is what is discouraged. They can always share words of edification and testimonies of God's grace. In the Bible about twenty apostles are named and all were male. The pastors or elders were always men. Note, an elder was to be the "husband" of one wife! (1 Tim 3:2; Tit 1:6). The leadership in the Church is reserved for men as in the home. Let's not reverse roles!
God has used women throughout all ages to minister to His people—from Old Testament prophetesses and judges to New Testament deaconesses. In the book of Acts we read about the four unmarried daughters of Philip who were “prophetesses.” (Acts 21:8-9) Paul talks about the leadership roles of Phoebe, a deaconess (Rom. 16:1-2). Priscilla, a woman worthy of high honor (Rom. 16:3-5), and two of his co-workers in Philippi: Euodia and Syntche (Phil. 4:2-3). Mary Magdalene was the first to announce the good news of the resurrection to the incredulous disciples. A woman of Samaria became an evangelist to her own townsfolk, convincing them that Jesus was indeed the Messiah (John 4:28-42). The O.T. tells of Miriam being a prophetess (Exo. 15:20). Deborah served as judge over Israel. She not only prophesied, but under God’s direction, ruled over a nation of men and women (Judges 4:4). The Lord sent the prophetess Hulda to convey a divine message to King Josiah and to the high priest Hilkiah (2 Kings 22:14-20). A woman as an advisor to a king and a high priest? Could God have made a mistake? What about today? God never changes. He’s the same yesterday, today and forever. And He’s no respecter of persons either, being totally impartial and never showing favoritism! (Acts 10:34). In God’s eyes there’s no difference between a man and a woman. They can both be called “servants of the Most High” (Gal. 3:28). An African woman Teresia desperately wanted to serve God—in spite of adverse circumstances. She married a white missionary who was unfaithful and divorced her - a terrible shame among Kenyan Christians. She attended a meeting where the evangelist won thousands to Christ. She prayed that God would allow her to win a dozen souls at least. She started a Bible study in her home for women. Seventeen came. Next week 55, then 105, then 200. She rented an auditorium that seated 2000. 4000 women showed up. She moved to a convention center which seated 5000. 12,000 women came. Some local pastors warned members not to attend the services of a divorced woman, which had the opposite effect. She moved to Uhuru Park which accommodates 50,000. There was standing room only. Many of the women's husbands also attended. A missionary to the area asked God why He had chosen a woman to spearhead such a soul-winning work when there were dozens of dedicated, disciplined Christian men willing and ready. God's response to his heart was very humbling: "I chose Teresia because I wanted to show the world that I could take a broken vessel and make a vessel of honor." "How this humbled me," the evangelist said. "We're not chosen for our great qualities. We're flawed servants who must depend totally on Him." “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). Peter said, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism” (Acts 10:34). “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). “I tell you the truth, ANYONE who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father” (John 13:12-13). “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8) Does God use women today? If they are humble, submissive and earnest, YES. He loves to remake broken, shattered, unappreciated, rejected, and untalented vessels. He is the Potter; I am mere clay. Mold me and make me, O Lord I pray.
I would like to offer an alternative view. The elder's position within the church was the work of Paul. Before Paul the church was just an informal community and it is Paul who organised it as a formal church. Therefore we have to be very grateful to Paul for his instructions, leadership and organisational skills. If not for him, there would not be a formal church today. However, I believe that God's message needs to be seen as being beyond Paul's earthly work, advice, organisation skills and actions. God created Adam and Eve, the latter out of a bone taken from Adam, and yet He did not make Eve subordinate to Adam nor treat her as being in an inferior position. For example, He did not hold Adam accountable for Eve's actions because He questioned them both for their INDIVIDUAL actions and punished them both in different ways for disobeying His one requirement. As for Jesus, did not treat women as inferior either. Mary Magdalene, the other Marys and women who traveled with Jesus played a major role looking after Him and others, asking questions and spreading His message to others. The only reason why women were not appointed to official leadership positions, e.g. one of the 12 disciples, was simply because that it was not culturally acceptable at the time for women to lead official roles. Besides Jesus did not care about earthly positions and status as demonstrated by his instructions. His advice to us was to focus ourselves on the world beyond by making sacrifices in this world. That is also the reason why Jesus did not preach against slavery, lead people to rebel against the unfair and unpopular Roman taxes. Even his instructions to his disciples were to go out to the world without taking any possessions with them, not even a staff! Therefore we (women or men) should not look at these positions in an earthly church as offering us any special advantages or privileges with Jesus. In fact one of the reasons why the official church (as opposed to the church as a community) is in such a disarray is because many of those who hold positions have become political and have lost sight of their spiritual roles. Sometimes I wish the church would abolish these positions altogether and follow Jesus' advice and go after the lost sheep i.e. those who have stopped coming to church. My humble view therefore is for women (or men) not to worry about any worldly positions, in the church or elsewhere, but to become a leader of people in a spiritual sense through their communication and actions. There is excellent work that is being done outside than within the official churches today. For example, this website engages with readers at a much deeper level of reasoning than any official church does through its sermons (one way communication).
In 1st Timothy Chapter 2: verses 11-15 clearly lay down and Apostle doctrinal observation. The proposal put forth, about " women out of line " is not supported by the scripture, and what may have been in that culture, again is not supported by the scripture. The Bible states; " believe on me as the scripture has said. Saint John Chapter 7: verse 38. There is no scripture that supports a woman serving as an Elder. Clearly, Paul wrote " let the women learn in silence". Operative word, "learn". This means while the the male teacher or preacher is teaching/preaching, the women should remain silent. Paul stated " I suffer not" meaning (I will not allow.) The same sentiment is reflected in 1st Corinthians Chapter 14: verses 34,35. Please read. The understanding of the position of all (men and women) is reflected in Ephesians Chapter 5: verse 23. Christ is the head of the church. Man is the head of the woman. And so the woman cannot usurp authority over the man. Yes, a woman can prophecy as instructed by the Holy Ghost, but to be in charge and to teach and preach to a man, it is not allowed. Old Testament, 5 Prophetess including Miriam. New Testament 2, Anna, and Phillip 4 daughters. (Revelation speak of other women prophetess, but they were classified as being false.) They are moved to speak of specific things to happen in the future. There is not one single woman in all the bible that was an Elder, Deacon, Minister, Bishop or Apostle. Not even Mary the mother of Jesus held an office or teach or preach. When Mary saw a need, she ask Jesus to help, and thus, Jesus began His ministry, by turning water into wine at a particular wedding in Galilee, as His mother ask Jesus to intervene. 48 Prophets. 7 deacons. 12 original Apostles, all men. Paul reminded the reason for this position of women (not being able to teach men) that " man was first, man was not deceived in the garden, the woman was. 1st Timothy Chapter 2: verse 13 Finally, it should be observed in 1st Timothy Chapter 3: verse 1, you can clearly see the gender that would be in charge. This is also affirmed and repeated in Acts of the Apostle Chapter 20: verses 17-30. Women are not second class to men, although there are specific roles for both men and women in the church. Revelation 22:13; I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Numbers 23:19; God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent (or change his mind). The Holy Bible is Gods word and he has never called a woman to be an Elder nor to preach in any way. He never has and never will! Amen and peace be!
An Elder in a Christian church is a person who is valued for worship and can adequately hold a position of responsibility within the church. In some denominations, an Elder is an ordained person who usually serves a local church in the ministry of word, sacrament and order, thereby occupying the preaching and pastoral offices. Hebrews 13:17, "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you". The qualifications for church leadership given by the Apostle Paul in 1Timothy 3:1-7, includes the followings: Good behaviour, Orderly and Respectable. Temperate, Sober, Vigilant. Able to teach the Scriptures. Holy and Devout. Not Self-willed and Self-controlled. An elder should demonstrate good virtues expected for competent leadership within the church, and also demonstrate a strong relationship with the Lord, (Jeremaih 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future). A woman may find it difficult to be a leader at home because of the conditions associated with being submissive to her husband in love and loyalty, and this could make it impossible for a perfect woman leadership in the church since she must submit to the will of her husband always. Ephesians 4:2-3, "Be completely humble and gentle, be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.
Most confuse ministry and office. Ministries have to do with the service we are providing for others. There seems to be little restriction on what ministry either man or women can do. However, for whatever reason, it would seem that God has chosen to restrict the office of elder to men given the qualifications of being a husband and head of the house. For precedence, look at the priesthood, which was not only restricted to men, but to men of a certain lineage. It seems that most arguments offered are anthropocentric and not theocentric. That is, we tend to consider more what a human person wants or is qualified to do than God’s universal perspective. It seems entirely probable given the arguments concerning our being observed by, being at war with and being representative of spiritual powers and principles, there is a reason beyond the desires of men that God put a certain order in His bodily representative on earth.
The bible and each word in it is valid today as well as 2000 years ago. Man wants to manipulate and word things to their advantage to achieve a goal or position that is contrary to scriptures for their own advantage. As in the position of elders and pastors, the word is clear and precise in Timothy and Titus on those qualifications, in my opinion. The word of God is never outdated, but it's rebellious humanity that wants to wrestle against God's holy word. True is the scripture when it says, "Let God be true and every man a liar." I believe the Bible teaches that women are not to be pastors or elders, and doing so is to be in direct disobedience to the Almighty.
For the sake of clarity, I am answering this question based on the assumption that the questioner is equating the word "elder" with pastor or priest. The question was asked whether women could serve as elders. The short answer is, it depends on the Christian denomination. Can women be pastors in the Southern Baptist, Nazarene, and many other mostly fundamental denominations? NO. Can women be priests in the Catholic church? No, at least not right now. But with the shortage of priests, that may change. Or at least, male priests might be able to be married. Change with that denomination is inevitable. But in the Methodist, Presbyterian, Assembly of God and many other Christian denominations, women have equality with their male counterparts. Now, the question takes on a new meaning if the questioner would have included whether or not Holy Scripture allowed the ordination of women as elders. That particular discussion has many advocates on both sides of that question. It very much depends on how one interprets God's Word. I, for one, won't attempt to voice an opinion. I will leave that for the reader to look up other questions on ebible and discover for themselves how divisive that subject can be. Bless you for wanting to broaden your horizons!
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