Women of Valor
Intro.: Many women have had a profound impact on history, society and the church. Although tradition, experience, and practice, have often excluded women in light of certain passages attributed to Paul, he commended women who served as leaders in the church and often relied on them to continue what he had started.
One of the major controversies that separate churches to this day is the role women play in ministry. Much of the debate stems from Paul’s writings and how they are interpreted. But, for me, this topic has become a blessing rather than a challenge.
It’s started as a challenge because I’ve been taught that women and men have separate roles within the life of a congregation, and tradition has kept it that way.
Because of this, I began to study the role of women in ministry. I turned to Paul’s writings, and I found some interesting things that I want to share with you today.
I. Should a woman be allowed to teach men?
A. In the OT, God chose women to lead in roles and decisions that affected the entire nation of Israel
1. Deborah ruled Israel as the Senior Judge
a. She instructed, prophesied & even commanded Barak to go to war
b. Esther called the entire nation to a solemn assembly
c. Huldah prophesied to the priest, the King and others. I Kings 22:14-20
3. In both the OT and NT God said that He would pour His spirit upon
“daughters” and “handmaidens” – Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:17
B. Examples Specific to the NT
1. Rom. 16:1 – Phoebe was a pastor/deacon of the church in Cenchrea
2. The exact same word is used of Paul & Apollos in I Cor, 3:5 and of deacons
in general in I Tim 3:10,12-13. Vs, 12 literally translated reads, “Deacons,
let them be of one wife (or) husband”
NOTE: The word “deaconess” is not a biblical term and it is as inappropriate to use this term as is would be to use the term “teacheress” or “doctoress”
NOTE: An early 3rd Century writing called the Didascalia (the teaching) said people being baptized came up from the water, were received & taught by women deacons
3. Look at Romans 16:7 “ Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and fellow prisoners (same style of word used in Rom. 16:3 “fellow workers” when Paul was speaking of Priscilla and Aquila), who are outstanding
among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.”
a. Paul said Junia was an apostle…
NOTE: John Chrysostom (337-407), bishop of Constantinople said this about Junia: “Oh, how great is the devotion of this woman that she should be counted worthy of the appellation of Apostle!” Two other early church fathers (Origen 2nd Century and Jerome 4th Century spoke of the woman Junia as an apostle.
C. NT Women as Pastors
1. Phebe – Romans 16:1 – The Church in Cenchrea
2. Lydia – Acts 16:40 – Brethren in her house
3. “Elect Lady” of 2 John 1
II. Should woman keep silent?
A. What was Paul’s saying in I Cor. 14:34-35?
1. Paul was addressing the issue of disorder in Corinthian Churches
NOTE: Church history tells us that a big part of the confusion in Corinth was caused by women who had come out of the worship of Dianna interrupting the House Church teaching w/ a barrage of questions and confusing ideologies laced w/ lies.
2. Paul referred to the issues contained in the Corinthian’s letter to him 8 times
3. vs. 34-35 restates part of the Corinthians original letter to Paul.
a. vs. 33 discourages confusion
b. vs. 34-35 restates the question
c. vs. 36 challenges the church’s scriptural understanding
d. vs. 37 is direction
e. vs. 38 is a rebuke
f. vs. 39-40 are Paul’s instruction to the Corinthian churches
B. So, Paul was saying that women are not only permitted, but encouraged to speak in the churches, but it must be done honestly and in order of priority
C. What about 1 Timothy 2:11-13?
NOTE: Paul was extensively dealing with false teachers (many of whom were women of Ephesus) and false teachings that were leading woman astray.
a. Ephesus was an idolatrous, paganistic matriarchal society of goddess
worshippers (Diana and Artemis among many others)
1. In a matriarchal society, if the women are led astray, the entire society can be led astray
b. The heresy of “Gnosticism” was infiltrating the church
NOTE: Gnosticism taught that Eve was the “originator” and the “illuminator” of humanity because she received “true knowledge” from the serpent. Eve then taught this knowledge to Adam, her son that she conceived w/o the assistance of a man.
NOTE: Paul was addressing this in 1 Tim. 2:11-12 of which the literal and implied meaning is…“Let a woman learn in quietness of heart, deferring to the one teaching. And I do not permit a woman to teach the heresy of women as the “originator”, it is right for these women to learn the truth with a quiet attitude” Proof that Paul is addressing the heresy of Gnosticism is found in 1 Tim. 2:13-14, the next 2 verses…
Concl.: Not only should women be allowed to speak in the church, but they are blessed by the Lord to occupy prominent roles as leaders. Remember the examples:
1. Phebe, a deacon of the Cenchrean church (Romans 16)
2. Junia the apostle of remarkable stature among the apostles (Romans 16)
3. Lydia, the leader of a house church in Thyatira (Acts 16)
4. Priscilla the teacher of Apollos, a man mighty in the Scriptures (Acts 18)
Many believe that it is not only possible, but likely that the majority of NT house churches were led by women deacons and women pastors…
So ladies, I challenge you to be women of valor