Taking A Careful Look At The Ministry Of Women In The New Testament Church (Part One)

It is written:

“And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. 29  And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.” (Joel 2:28-29)

And again:

“Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. 35  And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.” (1 Corinthians `14:34-35)

Again:

“Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12  And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13  For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14  And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” (1 Timothy 2:11-14)

And:

“I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea.” (Romans 16:1)

Further:

“I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3  And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.” (Philippians 4:2-3)

Again:

“But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved.” (1 Corinthians 11:5).

This prophecy of Joel began to be fulfilled in the New Testament era. It was quoted by the Apostle Peter on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:16-21), as an example of a prophecy that began to be fulfilled on that great occasion. This makes perfect sense, especially considering the fact that the time frame of the “last days” (“afterward” in Joel) is a reference to the Christian Age (Hebrews 1:1-2). Indeed, what is especially fascinating about this prophecy of the Christian Age is that we are told that both the men and women of Gods people would “prophesy” as the Spirit of God would be poured out on both God’s “menservants” and His “maidservants.”

However, as we consider this prophecy (especially in light of the other related passages, some of which are noted here), several questions arise.

First and most obviously, how do these passages harmonize coherently? Does Paul (in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 and 1 Timothy 2:11-14) teach that all Christian women are forbidden from teaching and preaching? What is the context of these statements? Furthermore, what does it mean that Christian women will be saved “through childbearing” (1 Timothy 2:15)?

Second, if Paul is not forbidding Christian women from teaching and preaching in these two passages of Scripture (i.e., 1 Corinthians 14:34-35; 1 Timothy 2:11-14), then what do they mean? What other possible meaning could be interpreted from these two texts? Even more to the point, how would these passages harmonize with what Paul (and others) teaches in the other passages of the New Testament regarding women who obviously taught without censure and condemnation?

Does not the prophecy of Joel, quoted above, clearly demonstrate that in the New Testament Age (i.e., the church age), women and men would serve together in various forms of ministry?

These will be the questions that we address ourselves to in the following articles on these topics.

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