female leadership

First Timothy 2:11 says, “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.” When Paul wrote those words to Timothy, he told the young pastor to keep worship orderly with regulations.

The people of Ephesus that Timothy pastored used to worship false gods. The women of that day were primarily idle busybodies who went from house to house, drinking and gossiping. These old habits came with them into Christian worship. They had to be led in their new way of life. Some women were trying to take over worship services, and Paul had to take matters into his hands and give guidelines for a peaceful assembly.

This matter was cultural because of the preceding everyday lives of the majority of the congregation. We can apply the beliefs of these scriptures without taking on the cultural attitudes of the times. For example, we follow the command to dress modestly without following the New Testament modes of dress because we understand that modesty tells us not to dress provocatively. We don’t use that verse to define modesty as donning a biblical cloak.

In the same way, we can apply Paul’s rules about women’s behavior in Ephesus by considering why he had to address the issue and not use it as a weapon against women obeying the anointing God put on them. The King James version of Paul’s instructions to Timothy uses the word “usurp,” which means acting self-appointed or without submission.

As long as a woman feels led to contribute to her church meeting and respects the pastor’s authority, she can scripturally teach. Also, a married woman should agree with her husband about her teaching to prevent discord and strife at home. When these conditions are met, the Bible gives four reasons why women can lead in the church.

We’re all made in God’s image.

Adam and Eve were created equal. God didn’t differentiate one as being better than the other. He made them both as humankind, as we’re reminded in Genesis 1:27. According to Genesis 2:21-22, Adam was made from the earth’s dust, and Eve was made from his rib. Since Eve was made from Adam’s rib, they shared the same DNA. The reason women’s value in society changed was due to deception. It wasn’t God’s doing or plan for women to become subservient to men.

We’re all Christ’s co-heirs.

God gave all of us His spirit without a determination as to female or male because we’re all one in Christ, as we read in Galatians 3:28. When Apollos came to Ephesus, Aquila and Pricilla invited him into their home and taught him more about Jesus than he knew. Acts 18:26 say that both women instructed him. Priscilla’s role in disciplining Apollos is mentioned in this scripture.

We’re the same body with different tasks.

God sees all of us as His children with different purposes, as detailed in 1 Corinthians 12:27. We each have a role to fulfill. When we’re unhappy with our position or try to take another person’s part, the believers suffer, as detailed in 1 Corinthians 12:25-26. Many women, including Susanna, Joanna, and Mary Magdalene, followed Jesus and supported Him by their means. They couldn’t do it if they didn’t have good management traits.

How could Joanna handle the household of Chuza if she wasn’t a good steward? Although these stories happened before the start of the New Testament church, the principles that would guide believers were already in place through Jesus’ teaching. Philip the Evangelist had four daughters who foretold the future. They fulfilled their role by letting the Holy Spirit work through them, blessing those who heard their words.

We all have Christ’s mind and identity.

In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul gave directions for disciplined worship. In verse 39, he warns the people as brothers and sisters, indicating that both can prophesy and speak in tongues during worship if they’re not disruptive. When Paul started his letter to the Ephesians, he called them God’s holy people and didn’t distinguish between women and men. In his letter, he referred to people who believe in Jesus as adopted, chosen and sealed. This is the same group of people that Paul’s rules about women directed to. He saw them as equal in the body of Christ.

Female leadership in the Bible.

Jesus returned the value that Satan stole from women in the garden. He didn’t hesitate to minister to the women at the well, despite the day’s rules, as detailed in John 4:7-9. After hearing the Savior’s message, she encouraged her community to listen to Jesus. Mary of Bethany took the initiative to show a preference for Jesus that no one gave Him by anointing Him with perfume before His crucifixion. Jesus’ mother took on the problem-solving job at the Cana wedding, and the resurrected Christ trusted the initial commission of the gospel to Mary Magdalene, as detailed in John 20:17-18.

There are numerous examples of women’s motivational influence in the Old Testament, like Esther, Abigail, Deborah, and the Proverbs 31 woman. If these women under a covenant of law could stand for God and contribute when needed, how much more can we do under the New Covenant in Jesus’ kingdom? In Romans 16:1-2, Paul commended Phoebe and told the Roman Christians to help her in any way due to her service to the believers. In the same chapter, he highlighted Mary, Priscilla, Tryphena, Tryphosa, and women who had served with him. It’s evident from Paul’s endorsement that these women were valuable to his ministry and congregations where they worshipped.

Misrepresenting the Bible to stop women from presiding over teaching in the congregation or presiding over a meeting violates the command to divide the word of truth. We shouldn’t lean on our understanding or rule by religious practice. When we work as a team as members of Jesus, we can fulfill His command to make disciples and uplift one another.

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