I have been asked many times about what the Bible says in regards to the ordination of women. Instead of rewriting what I believe has already been well laid out, I am sharing Dr. Jim Feeney’s writings on the subject for your edification. You may disagree, and that is your right, but please be able to point to the Bible for your reasons and not the culture.
In large segments of the Christian Church today, there has developed the practice of ordaining women as ministers and placing them in positions to lead, teach, and preach to assembled congregations of both men and women. The ordination of women pastors has become increasingly commonplace. And the ordination of women as prophets and even as apostles, although not yet common, is far from being rare. In contexts ranging from local churches to large Christian conventions, ordained women ministers routinely teach and preach to mixed congregations of men and women.
The New Testament reveals a wide variety of spiritual gifts and ministries for Christian women. There are two primary ministry areas in the church that the Lord has specifically reserved for men: that is, (1) teaching men, and (2) leading or having authority over men. This is unequivocally stated by the apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 2:11-12 — "A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent."
The context of that divine instruction from the apostle Paul was the ministry in and leadership of the Christian church, as the apostle in the very next chapter wrote: “...I am writing you these instructions so that ... you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God...” (1 Timothy 3:14-15).
Below, are some contemporary arguments that are being set forth for the practice of ordaining women ministers and having them lead, teach, and preach to men. My hope is that this bible study will help serious inquirers to draw their conclusions on this much-debated subject from the clarity of Scripture, rather the trends of modern society or from pragmatic analysis based on anecdotal results rather than on Scripture.
Argument #1: “We must recognize giftedness — those God-given spiritual abilities that God has given women.”
A Biblical Response: Of course we should! We ought to thank God for all cases of His Holy Spirit’s enabling of us. However, discerning that God has given spiritual gifts to a woman does not lead to the conclusion that we should, therefore, ordain her to an Ephesians 4:11 “fivefold” ministry or to eldership in the local church. God’s Word has declared, “Your sons and daughters will prophesy” (Acts 2:17). But the same Word of God, the Bible, declares, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man” (1 Timothy 2:12). Spiritual giftedness in a Christian woman does not confer upon her authority to lead and teach men.
•• Acts 21:8-11 records an excellent illustration of this. The apostle Paul was staying at the home of Philip the evangelist (vs. 8), who “had four unmarried daughters who prophesied” (vs. 9). This spiritual giftedness did not make them Ephesians 4:11 prophets.In fact, God wanted to speak a major prophetic word to Paul in that very home. Bypassing the daughters who had the gift of prophecy, God brought up from Judea “a prophet named Agabus” (vs. 10), who proceeded to speak a major revelation concerning the apostle’s future.
•• Giftedness must not be confused with authorization. Allow me to use myself for a natural illustration of this point. I hold a commercial pilot’s license with multi-engine and instrument ratings. However, when I board a commercial airliner, what I do not do is turn left into the cockpit and say, “Move over, my friend; I am capable of flying this plane.” No! I may have the “giftedness”, but I do not have the authorization.• My having the giftedness, the ability, to fly a plane does not give me the authority to take over the authorized pilot’s or copilot’s roles. Likewise, a Christian woman’s spiritual gifts and abilities are not an authorization to teach and lead men contrary to 1 Timothy 2:11-12 and other verses that we will examine. In sum, being capable of doing something is not the same as being authorized to do it. God has given a wide variety of spiritual gifts to women of faith. But none of those spiritual gifts grants permission to violate the clear statements of Scripture that the roles of leading men and teaching men are reserved biblically for men.•• I have extensively read or listened to bible studies and sermons by men favoring the ordination of women. A common denominator in these messages has been a lengthy listing of the many gifted, spiritual women of the New Testament. To that, I would say a hearty ‘amen’. There is no question that the New Testament names a considerable number of spiritual women. However, many of those same writers and preachers then, without Scriptural support, leap forward to the antibiblical conclusion that gifted women must then necessarily be qualified to be ordained ministers. However, there are no New Testament verses which support that conclusion, but many which place men only in those ordained ministry roles of New Testament leadership, preaching, and teaching to the entire congregation.