PRINCIPLES OF KINGDOM LIVING
WOMEN’S MINISTRY IN THE CHURCH
We are living in the wonderful age when the promised outpouring of God’s Spirit is being fulfilled. “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy” (Joel 2:28); (Acts 2:17). Revival, renewal, and restoration are taking place in the church today.
God has promised to restore all things before the Lord Jesus comes
again. One of the things God is restoring to the church today is the
release of women into ministry. This has been a subject of great
controversy and many have been hindered by two or three scriptures
taken out of context. In this lesson, we will examine the role of women
through the Bible. By doing so, we hope to establish what the
Word of God says about this issue.
(1) WHAT DOES THE OLD TESTAMENT SAY ABOUT WOMEN?
A. In The Beginning: Together, man and woman were to rule over the works of
“Let us make man in our image after our likeness.”
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion…”
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”
“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion…” (Genesis 1:26-28).
B. Old Testament Types And Shadows.
1. Miriam: The Prophetess (Exodus 15:20). Here, we will note the word “prophetess” comes from the Hebrew word “nebiah”, meaning “female preacher“.
2. Deborah: Held office of both prophetess and judge of the nation of Israel (Judges 4:4-5).
3. Huldah: A prophetess who had authority in the land and spoke forth the Word of the Lord with boldness (II Kings 22:14); (II Chronicles 34:22).
4. Esther: She had such authority that she saved the nation of Jews (Esther 2:16-17).
5. Abigail: Wisdom to David (I Samuel 25:3-8).
6. Isaiah’s Wife: A prophetess (Isaiah 8:3).
7. Women assembled (served) at the door of the tabernacle (Exodus 38:8).
8. The law of the Nazarites was for women as well as men (Numbers 6:2).
(2) WHAT DOES THE NEW TESTAMENT SAY ABOUT WOMEN?
A. Throughout the Gospels, we find that Jesus restores dignity and honor to
women. He, in no way, limited their opportunity to minister. Some examples are:
1. Anna, the Prophetess: God chose a woman to be the first person to publicly preach about Jesus after his birth (Luke 2:36-38).
2. The Woman at the Well: Representative of an evangelist (John 4:42).
3. The first to see Christ resurrected were women (Matthew 28:8,10).
B. In the Book of Acts, there is no prohibition of women ministering:
1. Priscilla: “With Aquila, her husband, took Apollos and “expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly” (Acts 18:24-26).
2. Philip had four daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:9).
3. Dorcas was called a disciple (Acts 9:36).
C. In the Pauline Epistles:
1. Phebe: A servant at the church in Cenchrea (Romans 16:1-2).
NOTE: The word “servant” is taken from the Greek “diakonos“. Here, it is translated as servant, but in 20 other places in the New Testament, it is translated as “minister“.
2. Priscilla is again mentioned (Romans 16:3).
3. Tryphena, Tryphosa, and Persis labored in the Lord (Romans 16:12).
In the 16th chapter of Romans, Paul is calling special attention to these women who diligently served the Lord and ministered with him. He did not esteem them, or their work, lower than his own. In Philippians, Paul also acknowledged Euodias and Syntyche as fellow workers in Christ.
(3) WHAT, THEN, DOES PAUL REFER TO IN (I CORINTHIANS 14:34-36), AND IN ( I TIMOTHY 2:11-15), WHEN HE SAYS WOMEN ARE TO KEEP SILENT IN THE CHURCH?
A. There is only one word used in the Greek for woman and wife. It is “gune”. This word denotes a woman, married or unmarried. It is used of any adult female; wife; or bride.
B. There are two words from the Greek that are translated as man:
1. “Anthropos“, used generally of human beings, male or female.
2. “Aner”, this word is never used of the female sex. It stands in husband, in contrast to his wife. This word is used in both (I Corinthians14:34-36), and (I Timothy 2:11-15).
C. There are two words translated as “silence” in the New Testament:
1. “Hesuchia“: This word means “tranquility arising from within, causing no disturbance to others”. It does not mean absolute silence.
2. “Sige“: This word means silence, no noise (Acts 21:40); (Revelation 8:1).
It is not used in (I Corinthians 14:34-36), nor in (I Timothy 2:11-15).
D. The predominant word used in the New Testament for church is “ekklesia“. This word means church or assembly. It literally means “a calling out of”. The word “church” or “assembly” does not refer to a building, but rather to a people that have obeyed the Word of God to come out from amongst the world.
(Galatians 3:26-29) tells us who this church is:
“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”
“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free.”
“There is neither male nor female: For ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then ye are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
A study of these words and their meanings makes it evident that Paul was not saying that women could not minister in the church. He was saying that wives should not be a disturbance to the ministry of the Holy Spirit. He was not saying that a woman cannot teach the Word of God or proclaim the Good News. But, Paul did say that the woman could not have dominion over her husband, nor could she teach such.
(4) WHAT DOES (I PETER 3:7) MEAN WHEN IT REFERS TO THE WIFE AS THE “WEAKER VESSEL”?
A. This, again, deals with a husband/wife relationship.
B. The word “weaker” here carries with it the connotation of one lesser in authority.
Not all women are to be weaker vessels to all men. Married women are considered the weaker vessel (or one in less authority) in the home and marriage relationship. In the home, God has set a line of authority: First God, then Christ, next the man, then the woman (I Corinthians 11:3). In the marriage relationship, the wife is to be the weaker vessel. But before God, she and her husband are heirs together of the grace of life (I Peter 3:7).
WOMEN By Ruthanne Garlock
Pentecost and the Release
Of Women in Ministry
For two decades the Holy Spirit renewal has shaken the Christian world more than any phenomenon since the Protestant Reformation. Popularly called the “charismatic movement.” it is viewed variously with alarm or applause, enthusiasm or disgust, but rarely with indifference. Why? Because the changes it has brought are too great to be ignored.
One of those changes is a clear increase in the activity and acceptance of women in roles of leadership and ministry. Often with reservations, sometimes grudgingly, believers who have actively resisted “feminism” in politics have nevertheless given wide place to women in the work of the gospel. Is this trend an innovation or a restoration?
Actually, women have been involved in the work of the Holy Spirit ever since history’s first charismatic renewal – the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Luke took care to record. “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren” (Acts 1:14).
Perhaps the New Testament writer added that detail about women because the feast of Pentecost, coming 50 days after Passover, was traditionally celebrated in Jerusalem only by Jewish males. But this Pentecost was different: They were praying instead of feasting. And the women were there.
The New Testament age had ushered in a new era for the people of God in general, but for women in particular. Whereas the chief symbol of Judaism was circumcision, which excluded women, the evidence of faith in Jesus in the New Testament was water baptism, which was open to women as well as men. And when the 120 faithful experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit, the fire fell on the women too. “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4).
The fire kindled a revival in the New Testament church that brought on an explosion of growth by evangelism. Cultural traditions of that era did restrict the role of women in ministry, but the New Testament records numerous instances of women serving in places of ministry and leadership.
Before Pentecost, it was a woman who had carried the good news of the Resurrection to Jesus’ followers (John 20:17-18). Philip the Evangelist, who founded the church in Caesarea, “had four unmarried daughters, who prophesied” (Acts 21:9, RSV).
Foremost among the women who worked with Paul was Priscilla. When Apollos, a new convert, came to preach in Ephesus, he “taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John” (Acts 18:25, RSV). Priscilla and her husband, Aquila, took him aside and “expounded to him the way of God more accurately” (verse 26), which doubtless included teaching on the Holy Spirit. And since Priscilla is named first, she presumably took the lead in the teaching.
In Romans 16 Paul calls Phoebe “a deaconess of the church at Cenchrea” (verse 1,
RSV). The word deaconess, or deacon, is variously translated “servant” or “minister.” Paul commends Euodias and Syntyche as women who “labored side by side with me in the gospel” (Philippians 4:3, RSV).
Though the flame of Pentecost flickered precariously through the centuries of church history, research indicates that the phenomenon of speaking in tongues never died out entirely. And when it blazed with new fervor at the turn of this century, a woman was the first to be baptized with the Holy Spirit and speak with tongues.
Under the direction of Charles F. Parham, founder of Bethel Bible School in Topeka, Kansas, the students had been reading the Scriptures to discover what was the biblical evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit. They concluded that the indisputable proof was speaking with other tongues. On New Year’s Day in 1901 one of the students, Agnes N. Ozman, asked Parham to lay hands on her and pray she would be filled with the Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. When he did, the young woman, according to the account, “began speaking in the Chinese language, and was unable to speak English for three days.”
In the “holiness movements” which were a prelude to the Pentecostal revival, it had become a fairly well-accepted practice for women to preach. And as Pentecostalism spread across the country, the numbers of women preachers increased. The primary basis for the practice was the Old Testament prophecy in (Joel 2:28 and 29): “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy….And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.”
Historian Vinson Synan states. “Most felt that woman had brought sin into the world through Eve, and should therefore help to take it out again.”2 Women had always been allowed a teaching role in the mainline churches, or had been sent to the far corners of the earth as missionaries – especially to those remote parts where the men chose not to go. But now women were also ministering as evangelists and pastors.
Maria Woodworth-Etter, a fore-runner of the Pentecostal movement, was the first woman preacher to become nationally known through her healing campaigns in the 1890’s. Spectacular miracles took place in her meetings that rivalled the claims of healing evangelists in later generations. In 1906 she joined the Pentecostal movement and continued in large campaigns with hundreds of people being converted, healed and filled with the Holy Spirit.
No doubt the most colorful and controversial woman preacher from the days of the early 20th-century outpouring was Aimee Semple McPherson, who after several years of evangelism built Angelus Temple in Los Angeles and founded the church of the Foresquare Gospel in 1923.
About the time Angelus Temple was built, Kathryn Kuhlman began preaching in tents and meeting halls across the Northeast and Midwest when she was only 16 years old. Her ministry continued for more than 50 years, spanning both the Pentecostal and charismatic movements.
But hundreds of lesser-known women devoted themselves to full-time ministry, some of them balancing the demands of the ministry with the role of wife and mother, others of them remaining single, and many of them becoming missionaries. More than one started as a helpmeet to a preacher husband, and ended up sharing the pulpit with him.
Mrs. Pauline Parham, daughter-in-law of Pentecostal pioneer Charles Parham, was in that category. She and her husband, Robert, were holding tent revivals in the Midwest, when at the close of the meeting one night he announced, “My wife will be preaching tomorrow night.” And she’s been preaching ever since. After Robert’s untimely death she continued holding tent revivals, edited the magazine started by Charles Parham, pastored four independent Pentecostal churches and started three Bible schools.
Perhaps a primary reason women were accepted in the ministry during the Pentecostal renewal was the emphasis on evangelism. In the sacramental churches, the role of the priest was primarily to administer the Eucharist, and the idea of a woman performing this rite was (and still is) unacceptable. In the free churches, the ministers were more often seen as agents of evangelism, and in many of these churches it was acceptable for a woman to serve in that capacity. For Pentecostal groups, the main qualification for ministry was a divine call and evidence of the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon the person’s ministry, whether the individual was a man or a woman.
But as Pentecostal denominations became more sophisticated and began placing more emphasis upon educational qualifications for the ministry, the percentage of women preachers decreased.
Then came the charismatic renewal of the 1960’s, when thousands of Catholics and Protestants in the mainline denominations began receiving the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. Hundreds of home Bible studies and prayer groups sprang up all over the country, providing innumerable ministry opportunities for women.
Many denominational women who received the Holy Spirit had husbands and pastors who neither understood nor appreciated their experience. These women began reaching out to others in similar circumstances for fellowship, inspiration and teaching. In 1967 the Women’s Aglow Fellowship began with a luncheon meeting in Seattle, Washington, and soon exploded into an international organization which now has more than 1,000 chapters. Many other similar groups have also formed.
Suddenly women were in great demand to speak at luncheon meetings, to teach home Bible study groups, and to conduct women’s retreats. More and more women began ministering as well to mixed groups in churches, and to interdenominational gatherings of all kinds. Some established Bible schools or ministry centers, and several launched outreaches on radio and television, sometimes combined with full-time traveling ministry.
Among the charismatics, as in the Pentecostal movement, the primary credential is a divine call and an anointing of the Holy Spirit. Innumerable housewives who never dreamed of entering “the ministry” have found themselves catapulted into a whole new way of life. It usually begins with a woman sharing in a ladies’ meeting how her life has been changed since she received the Holy Spirit. Those who hear her testimony seek her out for prayer and counsel, and almost without realizing what is happening, she is involved in ministry.
Someone has suggested that one reason women are so effective in this type of ministry is that they often are more compassionate than men and have fewer inhibitions about allowing the Holy Spirit to work through them. Perhaps this is true. Curiously, the increase of women in the ministry in the past two decades has happened concurrently with the rise of the feminist movement nationwide. But the philosophies of the two groups are poles apart. While the feminist exhorts women to throw off the bonds of a patriarchal system – even in the church – and stand up for their rights, the charismatic woman minister calls for surrendering one’s rights to the will of God and yielding to the infilling of the Holy Spirit. By observation, it appears the charismatic doctrine is producing more complete and fulfilled lives among women.
As another decade is just under way, the question arises, “Will the numbers of women in ministry gradually wane again as in the Pentecostal movement?” Given the diversity and variety of ministry in the charismatic movement, that prospect seems unlikely.
One observer noted that the ministry emphasis in the 50’s, with the rise of the great
healing campaigns, was on the power gifts: the gifts of faith, healing and miracles. The 60’s saw an explosion of the utterance gifts -speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues and prophecy. And in the 70’s there was an increased manifestation of the revelation gifts- discerning of spirits, and the word of knowledge and word of wisdom (see the list of gifts. (I Corinthians 12). What do the 80’s hold in store?
With a perspective of more than 50 years in the ministry as a Pentecostal and a charismatic, Pauline Parham says, “We’ll see a move of God through the Holy Spirit according to (Joel 2:28) – upon all flesh.” We’ve not yet seen the deluge of divine power that we will see in the days ahead, and I am convinced all the gifts will be in operation.”
As that divine move comes, there is every reason to believe that women will be in the thick of it.
PRINCIPLES OF KINGDOM LIVING
LESSON 8—STUDY SHEET
WOMEN’S MINISTRY IN THE CHURCH
Please fill in the blanks and bring this sheet to next class.
1. Joel 2:28 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out my Spirit upon _______________ flesh; and your sons and your ________________________ shall prophesy….
2. Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and ________________________ created he them.
3. Here, we note the word “prophetess” comes from the Hebrew word “nebiah” meaning
4. __________________________: With Aquila, her husband, took Apollos and “expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly” (Acts 18:24-26).
5. Romans 16:1-2 I commend unto you _________________________ our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye _______________________ her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.
6. The word succourer in the above verse is the word prostatis. It is the feminine
derivative of the Greek word proistemi which means to stand before, i.e. (in rank) to preside, or (by implication) to practice: – maintain, be over, rule. It is important to note that Paul calls himself servant.
7. “Hesuchia“: This word means “tranquility arising from within, causing no disturbance to others”. It does not mean ____________________________ silence.
8. Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor ______________________: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
9. Not _________ women are to be weaker vessels to __________ men. Married women are considered the weaker vessel (or one in less authority) in the home and marriage relationship. In the home, God has set a line of authority: First God, then Christ, next the man, then the woman (I Corinthians 11:3). In the marriage relationship, the wife is to be the weaker vessel. But ______________ God. She and her husband are heirs __________________________ of the grace of life (I Peter 3:7).