Women in Ministry
Some time ago, we were asked for additional answers regarding our free e-book, “Should Women Keep Silent?” We felt it might be helpful to again share the link to this free e-book. Published in 2015, it discusses the claims many make about how women need to be silent in church. Clicking on the title will lead to a specific page where you can read the free e-book online, as well as find the new printable PDF for studying or sharing.
We hope this will be helpful for many as they explore the Word of Yahweh in scripture regarding women's roles in church, and in building better and stronger assemblies/congregations.
We also wanted to share some replies we had to those questions that were sent to us through email. We hope these will help.
1) 1st Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6-7 where Paul seems rather clear when discussing positions in a church organization. He does not seem to account for women in these church positions.
Reply: This is in regards to Paul saying "Husband of one wife...," and this question/topic comes up often. The claim is that, because Paul ONLY MENTIONS HUSBAND here, that this means only men can serve in certain positions in church. Specifically mentioned here is what is commonly translated as elder/overseer/bishop.
Titus 1:6-7 KJV If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;
1 Timothy 3:2 KJV A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
We have to take into account WHO Paul was teaching at the time and the culture of the day. It honestly was not common at that time for women to have more than one husband, and yet there were situations where the reverse was true. It would not have been likely for Paul, because of culture, to counsel against women having more than one husband because there would not have been any need.
He DID counsel women on issues that they WERE exhibiting, however. An example of this would be where he counsels women to remarry if they are widowed young (1 Tim 5:11-14). He mentions WHY, too, because if they are not busy tending to their households and family, they will fall prey to the temptations of Satan, becoming gossiping busy-bodies. In turn, causing issues amongst the community. Throughout the bible we are counseled to NOT gossip – it is considered an abomination by Yahweh. This could lead women into serious sin issues.
Additionally, women are warned about false teachers and letting those doctrines into their homes – Paul even calls them “silly women” – 2 Tim 3:1-6 are great verses for women to study and be forewarned. Sadly, this is what we are seeing quite often in ministry now. Women who fall prey to THIS and MORE. You see, Paul was led to warn women against what would most likely lead them astray.
Men, however, were not warned as strongly about those things, yet were warned about what they tended to lean toward. In this case, one topic Paul mentioned more than once was polygamy. Historically, it was well-known some men married more than one wife. Paul felt it necessary to point out that a man who serves Yahweh in the church, needs to be the man of ONE wife, not a polygamist. Basically, he was saying, “If a polygamist is inquiring about serving as the leader or bishop of the church, he is NOT qualified.”
2) How do men and women serve together in the assembly/church? One message we received mentioned a husband and wife who see that each has gifts the Father gave them individually in church-life and in the raising of children. They know each other's strengths and weaknesses, and those come out as they work together in their home assembly.
Many couples/families belong to a very open fellowship group like this, where discussions and teachings are led by members, regardless of a presenter’s gender. They reached out to us, desiring a better understanding of what the biblical model looks like – open as they were experiencing, or more restrictive for women, as some profess.
Our Reply: We teach that the model exhibited in this study group IS the more biblical model. These families allow both genders to teach, as did Paul and others in scripture. You see this whenever you look at Paul and the women he acknowledges, Phoebe, for one, is recognized as being a deacon (diakonon). The only other use of this specific word (diakonon) in the New Testament is when Paul refers to Yeshua in Romans 15:8 as a servant. This clearly shows daikonon/servant as a gender-neutral term. Paul shows through this example and the others mentioned in the book that there IS female leadership in the churches.
This actually brings to my mind a husband/wife team example where the wife seems to “…have all the say while the husband takes the back seat to her leading.” This is a case someone may need to look at very cautiously. It MAY be a case of which Paul speaks AGAINST, where women are acting out inappropriately. If a woman becomes overbearing in ministry, strongly assumes the role of leader herself, and becomes one of those women who is controlling, domineering, or bossy, it could fall into the counsel which Paul felt he needed to give. This is where he says women being silent or asking their husbands at home, rather than speak up, loudly, at church, appearing to by unruly.
You see, at the time Paul was writing to the churches, the Diana Cult was running rampant still. Some were not willing to give that up, as you can see by the scripture: Acts 19:23-25. Demetrius speaks of how it will cost them a lot of money – their whole business is wrapped up in those statues! The women in that cult were VERY authoritative, domineering, controlling – and women at the time were used to having that control in religion. As they left that cult, and came to Yeshua’s teachings, it was something Paul HAD to discuss to ensure that Yahweh’s church did NOT go down that same road. The women needed to learn the submission that Paul speaks of.
We see women in our modern society doing these same things. Watch any women’s rally in Washington, DC and listen to the women who have made it their mission to destroy the literal “MANkind” in our nation!!! Men have become an evil fixture in our society, and it is a message created by wicked women.
Now I must say, too, the Biblicial submission I mentioned a moment ago is NOT the same as what we see in some churches today. It is NOT a heavy-handed control which appears as dictatorial, where the men literally rule, while women are dominated over. I will touch on that negativity in a moment.
There can be two different extremes which we may see in a meeting, women dominating, or men, yet neither is Biblical. In the case which may appear to be an authoritarian wife, a few leaders might need to sit and take a careful look at the couple where the husband appears to take a back seat. If it is NOT as Paul was warning against (domineering, overbearing, bossy wife trying to take control), it may be something completely beautiful and genuine.
The wife may have an actual calling to serve Yahweh! I know SEVERAL sisters of faith who have been called by Yahweh to be POWERFUL preachers, teachers, and leaders in their communities. They lead entire congregations – BIG ONES. And their husbands, however, choose to “take a back seat.” Not because the wives are negatively leading, but because the husbands are not called by Yahweh to the same ministry position as their wives. And yet they support their wives in their callings – completely and wholly.
We each may run into this in life, and we should use Paul’s counsel to take a careful look from a distance. Measure if THIS may be the situation, rather than it being a domineering woman.
3) What of a brother who appears “very controlling, authoritarian, and overly patriarchal?”
Our Reply: No, this is the other extreme I mentioned and it is not Biblically sound. Being a domineering husband is not the answer either. It becomes a situation that must be watched carefully because this may be a behaviour which extends into the home. It is my experience that in these cases, the men aren’t always receptive to receiving feedback. Especially by the kind of leader who may be able to use scripture to justify his entire thinking.
THIS is actually one of the things our women’s ministry was called to help address - the true Biblical balance in ministry and homes. We are fully aware that, these messages coming from a woman in ministry is even less tolerated. Therefore, my husband, James, has written or co-written all books on these topics. These free e-books are available on our website and we recommend couples read them. We believe they will help families, couples, and even ministries explore and test the doctrines around women in church, from solely a Biblical perspective.
I would invite everyone to read the first book mentioned at the beginning, “Should Women Keep Silent?” This should be followed up with our e-book titled “Women In Ministry.” These may include some material which is redundant, yet it will help strengthen the teaching and clarify many of Paul's words.
We also recommend couples read and study, “Answers For Men About Women” and “Should I Call My Husband Lord and Master?” Both of these books were specifically written by Jim from his perspective to help the brethren understand.
For quite some time, the church has relegated women to “the back seat,” so to speak, by using the words of Paul. But when you take them in context with the rest of the Bible and the historical evidence from that era, one cannot deny how Yahweh called WOMEN to serve. Sometimes it was simply because they had gifts which He needed to put forth at that time, and other times it was when men were not able or righteous to do what He needed to have done. Deborah is one example of the latter.
I hope these words help you and will clarify things.
Blessings - Judith Garton
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Lead Author (Bio)
Jim, (Judi's husband), has Sephardi Jewish ancestry and is a minister and head of Shofar Productions. Jim was a denominational pastor, hospital chaplain, and former director of a non-profit community organization.
Torah For Women
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