Can a woman Preach?
I want to know why it was forbidden in the Bible (Paul writing to the Corinthian Church and to Timothy) for women to preach in a congregation. Why don’t we see in the Bible a female Apostle, Pastor, Evangelist, Prophet, or Doctor? Thank you Pastor.
In the Bible, there are two particular places that Paul actually talked about women speaking, you know, whether in church or wherever. There are two particular places where the Bible talks about it, and in none of those places did he say that a woman should not preach. Now, this is an erroneous idea that a lot of people have cooked up, you know, to make it look like God never wanted a woman-preacher. Now, the first place is in 1st Corinthians Chapter 14, and I want to read to you what it says there so you’ll understand exactly what the Bible is telling us. In 1st Corinthians Chapter 14, I’ll read to you from verse 34, and I want you to listen to what it says: “Let your women keep silence in the churches; for it is not permitted unto them to speak…” Now, He didn’t talk about preaching – I want you to listen carefully [continues scripture quotation] “…for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also sayeth the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home; for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” Then it says “What? Came the word of God out of you, or from you, or came it unto you only? If any man think himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that are right unto you are commandments from the Lord. [1 Corinthians 14:34-36]” Now, you know what it’s talking about here? He’s dealing with WOMEN MAKING NOISE, talking to their husbands, asking questions in the church in disregard to their husbands or directly to their husbands. It says “…if they will learn anything, they should ask…at home…” See, the context tells us what Paul was talking about here – the context. He says it was not permitted for women to speak in the church. If they will learn anything, they should ask their husbands at home. What about those without husbands? What should they do? Because it was specific. So that tells us that there was a relational problem in the church. There was a relational problem in the church, and this had to do with women and their husbands and the kind of communication they were having in the church. That’s what he was talking about.
Now, the next place where he talks about something similar is what will tell you what he was dealing with here. Then we’ll talk about some other examples in the Bible that show us whether or not this was what God had in mind. Now, we’ll go to the next place which is in 1st Timothy Chapter 2. I’ll read to you from verse 11: “Let the woman learn in silence, with all subjection [1 Timothy 2:11].” You see? So he’s talking about the same thing. He said women should keep silent in the church, ok? Now again, he [Paul] picks it up, and he’s talking to Timothy, who was the pastor of the church at Ephesus at this time. You see? So Timothy was a pastor, which means that the message he’s writing to Timothy is consistent to what he wrote to those in the Corinthian church. So Timothy as a pastor would know exactly what to do and how to handle the church. Now, I want you to listen again to the context. So it says [continues reading from 1st Timothy] “Let the woman learn in silence, with all subjection; but I suffer not [or permit not] a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. [1 Timothy 2:11-12]” Now, that’s just clear; he’s saying exactly the same things he said before, just in other words. Now, listen to it. It says “…but I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
” He didn’t say “I suffer not women to teach, nor to usurp authority over men.” He’s not speaking about women and men in general; he’s talking about the man and his wife. He says [listen], “I suffer not a woman to teach, nor usurp authority over the man.” What do you mean by ‘the man’? The man that’s connected to the woman – that will be her husband. You see that? That’s what it’s talking about. That will be her husband – the man that’s connected to that woman. So, definite article – ‘the man’ – definite article. Then, the use of the term here ‘usurp’ – that means that that man already had authority over this woman, and this woman is trying to ride out of that authority to be over him. So it says “I do not permit her to teach him, or usurp authority over him.” It’s talking about husbands and wives. So, that’s the same context in which he said it in 1st Corinthians Chapter 14.
Now, by the way, remember, the first person that Jesus sent to herald his resurrection message was a woman – Mary Magdalene; Jesus sent her to preach. She was the first person to preach the gospel of the resurrection. It was a woman. Now again, the Bible tells us about four women – four daughters of Philip the evangelist – and that they were all preachers. The Bible says they prophesied [Acts 21:8-9]. Now, where we get the word ‘preaching’ from in the Bible is actually from the word ‘prophecy’. ‘To Prophesy’ is what was translated into ‘to preach’. So when you say you are a preacher, it’s coming from where it talks about prophesying, meaning speaking words – the word of faith – voicing God’s word, releasing God’s word, not just the prophetic utterance of revelation now. But these women prophesied and they spoke forth the word of God. Remember how they spoke concerning Paul the apostle. See? Four daughters of Philip the evangelist who prophesied, meaning the four of them preached. And where do you prophesy? The Bible says that the gift of prophecy is for the church. You see? It’s for the church. So, he says we may all prophesy, and that by cause. Now if the Bible says in the congregation we may all prophesy one by one, and that by cause, all of us [1 Corinthians 14:31]. ‘All of us’ – again referring to the church – that means men and women in the church can prophesy. So, remember that and that will help you understand.
Now, the second part of your question was, “Why didn’t we have in the Bible female apostles, and female evangelists, and female teachers and so on and so forth?”
First of all, if you go back in the Old Testament, you will find that there were leaders who were women, and God raised them up. Deborah for one was a leader [Judges 4:4]. She was a judge. Now, I know you are talking about in the New Testament. Well, interesting. You’ve got to understand the day in which they lived. This was a time that the people would not receive a woman. Yet, Christ sent a woman to herald the good news. She may have not been called an evangelist, but how else do you describe an evangelist? It’s not all evangelists that were named in the Bible. Just because Jesus picked certain men didn’t mean he didn’t have women.
The Bible tells us that there were multitudes of women who were with him when he went out to preach the word. They were there. But, you see, the writers of the Bible wouldn’t have given us the details of their operation in ministry, because Jesus had twelve men. Now, just because he chose twelve men didn’t mean he didn’t have more men; he had more men. See? So, he didn’t choose twelve men to represent men; he chose twelve men to represent him. So that’s very important. We shouldn’t use those kinds of examples as a covering for everything that God was supposed to do, because if you read the Old Testament, you’ll find that He chose men and women, and in the New Testament, He ministered through men and women, and that’s very important for us. Alright! So the simple reason was [that] the background of the people of the day was clear; they would not accept a woman.
And so Jesus picked men, but he gave women responsibilities until the Holy Spirit should come, so that in the church where Paul also [the same Paul you quoted] tells us that in the Church of Jesus Christ, there is neither male nor female as he says there’s neither bond nor free, there’s neither Jew nor Gentile [Galatians 3:27-29]. He says we are all one in Christ, which means the Holy Spirit ministers through both men and women now. That’s important.