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I use this newsletter to send Bible studies as much as once per week, sometimes less, but never more. See back issues.

Women Pastors: Should Women Teach Men in the Church?

Should women be pastors or teach men in the church?

First, it would be good for you to know what a "pastor" is, biblically. The word "pastor" is only used in the Bible once in reference to a Christian leader, in Ephesians 4:11. In the Scriptures, church government is a group of elders (Acts 14:23). These are elders are given the title of overseer, and they are the ones who shepherd (the meaning of "pastor") the church (Acts 20:17,28; 1 Pet. 5:1-5).

That's the brief description. You can read a longer scriptural explanation along with the history that brought us to the types of church government we have today on my Christian history site.

I believe it is clear that the apostles did not allow women to be in the role of elder/overseer, nor to be in a position of teaching the church. I will separate my arguments into sections.

The Qualifications for Elder Are Written for Men

In 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9 we are given the qualifications for an elder/overseer. The qualifications are clearly written for men.

An elder/overseer must be the husband of one wife, not the wife of one husband, and he must lead his own house well. Ephesians 5:22-31 and 1 Corithians 11:3 make it clear that the man is to be the leader of his wife and thus his own family. We will discuss those two Scriptures below, but for now, you would have to be very hard-headed not to realize that a qualification of "lead his own house well" (1 Tim. 3:4) is directed to men and only men.

Let me say something about calling a person hard-headed. It's one thing to disagree with the Bible or to say that things have changed because of culture. It is quite another to say that something obvious is not true. It is obvious in 1 Timothy 3 that the qualifications are laid out for a man, not a woman. If you believe times have changed, that is one thing. If you are going to deny that 1 Timothy 3 is written to men, then I already think you're dishonest, and you might not want to go on reading what I am writing.

There Is No Record of Women Elders in the New Testament

Not only is there no record of women elders in the New Testament, there is no record of women elders in the early centuries of the church. I have only studied the era from the New Testament to AD 400, but in that time, there are no women elders (pastors).

Women Servants (Deacons)

Woman can be "deaconesses," though I object to the word.

The apostles created an office called "servant." Nowadays, we call them deacons, but that is an inaccurate translation. "Deacon" comes from the Greek word diakonos, which means "servant." "Deacon" is just a religious term that avoids the real meaning of diakonos.

So lets use the correct word, "servant." There is a record of a woman servant in the New Testament. Paul calls Phoebe a servant in Romans 16:2.

In the early Christian writings, there are even more references to women servants, and those writings also discuss the services that women servants render.

When Paul gives Timothy the qualifications for a servant beginning in 1 Timothy 3:8, he makes allowance for the fact that women can fill this office (3:11). Many translations use the word "wife," but "woman" is just as accurate a translation. Since we know that the apostles' churches had women servants, it is safe to assume that the correct translation of 1 Timothy 3:11 is "even so, women must be grave, etc."

In General Men Are the Head of Women

Stricter Christians are not going to be happy with me for adding "in general" to what would otherwise be a direct quote from 1 Corinthians 11:3. I have added "in general" not to change Paul's point, but to make allowance for the practical application of man's headship as portrayed in the Bible.

Everyone knows the story of Deborah, who was a judge in Israel, the highest office in the land at that time. Deborah had no man as her head. While "man is the head of woman" is the rule, God has shown us he is willing to make exceptions.

For those of you that have read the book of Judith, you know that she winds up taking the lead for her entire city. They don't know what to do, and they approach Judith for advice. Again, it seems that men looked to Judith as head. Ironically, in response to their need, she gave them the head of a man.

You may or may not regard Judith as Scripture depending on your church, but you really ought to read it.

1 Corinthian 14:34-35

1 Timothy 2