On Women In Ministry: Can A Woman Pastor A Local Church?

There are some who teach that pastoring is for men alone. This idea is based off two texts in the New Testament, primarily.

The first is found in 1 Timothy 2.

1 Timothy 2:11-12 (NKJV)


The second portion of Scripture used to support this notion is 1 Corinthians 14.

1 Corinthians 14:34-35 (NKJV)

34 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.

What exactly does Paul mean in these Biblical texts? Was Paul advocating for female-gagging within the local Church, whereby women play second fiddle to the men in spiritual responsibilities? Is he saying that women cannot be involved in public ministry (e.g. preaching, admonishing, counseling, praying etc) in Church? This would be odd, since in 1 Corinthians 11:5, he speaks of women praying and prophesying.

1 Corinthians 11:5 (NKJV)

5 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.

Now, prophecy was PUBLIC ministry in the Early Church.

1 Corinthians 14:2-4 (NKJV)

2 For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. 3 But HE WHO PROPHESIES speaks edification and exhortation and comfort TO MEN. 4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but HE WHO PROPHESIES EDIFIES THE CHURCH.

Prophecy is to speak inspiredly to THE CHURCH. It is done PUBLICLY. How then can the woman prophesy if she is to remain silent in Church?

The Bible is replete with examples of women preaching and engaging in public ministry.


Old Testament Books.



She was the older sister to Moses and she is called a prophetess.

Exodus 15:20 (NKJV)

20 Then Miriam THE PROPHETESS, the sister of Aaron, took the timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.

The word “prophetess” translates the Hebrew word “nebiah” (נְבִיאָה) which is the feminine form of the word “nabi” (נָבִיא) which means “a prophet.” The “nebiah” (נְבִיאָה) is therefore a female prophet.

In the Old Testament, prophets were God’s spokespersons. They relayed His message to this people. Amos 3:7 says, “Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He REVEALS HIS SECRET to His servants THE PROPHETS.

What God revealed to them, they, in turn, revealed to God’s people. Hosea 12:10 says, “I have also spoken BY THE PROPHETS, and have multiplied visions; I have given symbols THROUGH the WITNESS OF THE PROPHETS.

The Old Testament prophets were called the servants of God in Daniel 9:10, “We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by HIS SERVANTS THE PROPHETS.

There were both male and female prophets in the Old Testament, the ONLY difference was the gender. So when Miriam is called a prophetess (Exo 15:20), she is described as one with a public ministry. She would have taught God’s people.

She functioned as a prophet of Yahweh, just like her brother, Moses and God acknowledged her. He says in Micah 6:4, “For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, I redeemed you from the house of bondage; and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, AND MIRIAM.” God mentions her amongst the rulers of Israel.


Judges 4:4 (NKJV)

4 Now Deborah, a PROPHETESS, the wife of Lapidoth, was JUDGING ISRAEL at that time.

The prophetess Deborah is said to have judged Israel at that time. The judges in Israel were servants of Yahweh who ruled over the people. God raised them up after Moses and Joshua died.

Judges 2:7-8, 16 (NKJV)

7 So the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord which He had done for Israel. 8 Now Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died when he was one hundred and ten years old.

16 Nevertheless, the Lord RAISED UP JUDGES who delivered them out of the hand of those who plundered them.

Judges were raised in Israel to replace Moses and Joshua, as the rulers of the people. They gave guidance to the people of Israel. Judges 4:5 says, “And she (Deborah) would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. And THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL CAME UP TO HER FOR JUDGMENT.

So we find Deborah (a woman) give God’s people DIRECTION on what to do. She gave instructions to Barak (a man). Barak was the leader of the troops of Israel (see Judges 4:6-7). Deborah ruled over both spiritual, as well as NATIONAL affairs in Israel—she did so as a woman. She was also married to Lapidoth (Judges 4:4), so she would have judged him too.


2 Kings 22:14 (NKJV)

14 So Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to HULDAH THE PROPHETESS, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe. (She dwelt in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter.) And they spoke with her.

Just like Deborah, Huldah was married also. She is called “the wife of Shallum, the son of Tikvah,” yet she also functioned as a prophetess. The king sought counsel from Huldah.

2 Kings 22:12-13 (NKJV)

12 Then the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam the son of Shaphan, Achbor the son of Michaiah, Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah a servant of the king, saying, 13 “GO, INQUIRE OF THE LORD FOR ME, for the people and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the Lord that is aroused against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.”

And Huldah gave instructions for the king, in vs. 15, “Then she said to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘Tell the man who sent you to Me…’” So we find Huldah (a woman) direct a king in the way of the Lord.

The wife of Isaiah.

Isaiah 8:3 (NKJV)

3 Then I went to THE PROPHETESS, and she conceived and bore a son. Then the Lord said to me, “Call his name Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz;

The prophet Isaiah married another prophetess and she conceived for him. Notice she was already a prophetess BEFORE their marriage. The text says, “Then I went to THE PROPHETESS…” She was already one. This title was not bestowed on her because of her association (martial union) with Isaiah.

So far, we find women take up leadership roles in the Old Testament.


The Four Gospel Accounts.



Luke 2:36 (NKJV)

36 Now there was one, Anna, A PROPHETESS, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity.

The word “prophetess” translates the Greek “prophétis” (προφῆτις). It is the feminine form of the word “prophḗtēs” (προφήτης) which refers to one who SPEAKS FORTH by the inspiration of God.

So a “prophétis” (προφῆτις) is a female who is inspired by God to speak, similiar to the “nabi” (נָבִיא) and “nebiah” (נְבִיאָה) of the Old Testament. She stands in the office of a prophet. Anna was such a one.

Luke records about how she served God in the Temple, in Luke 2:37, “And this woman (Anna) was a widow of about eighty-four years, who DID NOT DEPART FROM THE TEMPLE, but SERVED GOD with fastings and prayers night and day.

She also prophesied concerning Jesus in vs. 38, “And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and SPOKE OF HIM TO ALL those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” Anna prophesied to “all“—men and women included.

The woman of Samaria.

Jesus met her at a well at Samaria, in John 4.

John 4:5-7 (NKJV)

5 So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. 7 A WOMAN OF SAMARIA came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.”

Jesus discusses with her at length, and in the process, she discovers that He is the long-awaited Christ.

Vv. 25-26

25 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you AM HE.”

Upon realising this fact, she becomes an evangelist. Vv. 28-30 record that, “The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to THE MEN, ‘Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?’ Then they went out of the city and came to Him.

So she preaches to all—MEN inclusive. And because of her preaching, many believe on Jesus. Vs. 39 says, “And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him BECAUSE of the WORD OF THE WOMAN who testified, ‘He told me all that I ever did.’

Mary Magdalene.

Mary Magdalene was given the honour to announce the resurrection of Jesus to His disciples.

John 20:1, 17-18 (NKJV)

1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.

17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to MY BRETHREN (the disciples) and SAY TO THEM (i.e. preach), ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene came and TOLD THE DISCIPLES that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.

So, Mary Magdalene (a woman) is the first person to proclaim/preach the Resurrection. Jesus even rebukes His disciples for not believing her message, in Mark 16:14, “Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe THOSE WHO HAD SEEN HIM after He had risen.

Those who had seen Him” would include Mary FIRST, in context of vv. 9-11 (Mark 16), “Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, HE APPEARED FIRST TO MARY MAGDALENE, out of whom He had cast seven demons. She went and TOLD THOSE who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, THEY DID NOT BELIEVE.

Jesus reprimands their unbelief (in vs. 14). Mary was therefore INSTRUMENTAL in proclaiming that Christ had been raised.


Book of Acts.


The Women in the 120.

In Acts 1, Luke records that there were 120 disciples gathered after Jesus’ Resurrection.

Acts 1:14-15 (NKJV)

14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, WITH THE WOMEN and MARY the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. 15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of THE DISCIPLES (altogether the number of names was about a HUNDRED AND TWENTY), and said.

Women were part of that number (i.e. the 120). These 120 disciples were present on the Day of Pentecost, in Acts 2.

Acts 2:1-4 (NKJV)

1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, THEY WERE ALL (the 120, including the women) with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Both men and women spoke in tongues on that day. Luke says, “…they were ALL filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave THEM utterance.” No one was left out.

This means that women were not excluded from flowing in the gifts of the Spirit, in the gatherings.

Philip’s Daughters.

In Acts 21, Luke speaks of Philip’s daughters who prophesied.

Acts 21:8-9 (NKJV)

8 On the next day we who were Paul’s companions departed and came to Caesarea, and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. 9 Now this man had four virgin daughters WHO PROPHESIED.

That phrase “who prophesied” implies a continuous act, i.e. something which they did often. These girls were prophets. Prophecy would usually entail a public ministry—speaking to others (1 Corin 14:1-5).


She is mentioned for the first time in Acts 18:2.

Acts 18:2 (NKJV)

2 And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife PRISCILLA (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome).

She is described as the wife of a certain Jew named Aquila. She and her husband were actively involved in the work of the ministry. They both discipled a man named Apollos in vv. 24-26 of Acts 18.

Acts 18:24-26 (NKJV)

24 Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. 25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, THEY (both of them) took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

They were BOTH responsible for teaching Apollos, and his teaching ministry improved because of them. Vs. 28 records that “…he (Apollos) vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.

Paul mentions Priscilla in his Epistles as his “fellow worker.

Romans 16:3 (NKJV)

3 Greet PRISCILLA and Aquila, MY FELLOW WORKERS in Christ Jesus.

The phrase “fellow workers” translates the Greek “sunergos” (συνεργός) which means “associate” or a companion in a work. Paul used this word to describe those ministers who served with him in ministry.

He uses it for Timothy in 1 Thessalonians 3:2, “And sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our FELLOW LABORER (sunergos) in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith.

Also for Epaphroditus, in Philippians 2:25, “Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, FELLOW WORKER (sunergos), and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need.

So, by calling Priscilla a “sunergos” (συνεργός) or “fellow worker,” Paul is saying she TOO was a minister of the Gospel. Paul fondly mentioned the Church in their house (she and her husband).

Romans 16:3-5 (NKJV)

3 Greet PRISCILLA AND AQUILA, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. 5 Likewise greet the church THAT IS IN THEIR HOUSE.

1 Corinthians 16:19 (NKJV)

19 The churches of Asia greet you. AQUILA AND PRISCILLA greet you heartily in the Lord, with THE CHURCH THAT IS IN THEIR HOUSE.

Aquila and Priscilla were elders over a local Church. This Church met in their house. Note that Paul did not mention Priscilla simply because she was Aquila’s wife. It is not Paul’s character to commend a spouse, simply because he/she is married to a minister. Priscilla is therefore mentioned because SHE TOO, like her husband, laboured in the Gospel of Christ.


The Epistles.


The Epistles speak of several women who were actively involved in the work of the ministry.


In Romans 16, Paul commends all those who served with him in ministry, and the first person he mentions is Phoebe, a woman.

Romans 16:1-2 (NKJV)

1 I commend to you Phoebe OUR SISTER, who is a SERVANT OF THE CHURCH in Cenchrea, 2 that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has BEEN A HELPER OF MANY and of MYSELF ALSO.

Paul commends her as “a SERVANT OF THE CHURCH in Cenchrea.” The word “servant” translates the Greek “diakonos” (διάκονος) which is the SAME word used for ministers of the Gospel.

Paul uses this word (“diakonos“) for himself in Ephesians 3, “Of which I became a MINISTER according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power” (vs. 7). He used this word “diakonos” (διάκονος) here, to describe his work as an apostle.

Similarly, in Colossians 1:25, he says, “Of which I became a MINISTER (diakonos) according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God.

The same word was used for other ministers of the Gospel in the Pauline Epistles: for Tychichus (Col 4:7), Epaphras (Col 1:7-8), and then for Timothy (1 Thess 3:2).

A critical examination has revealed that this word “diakonos” (διάκονος) was used for elders within the Church—those who had some form of spiritual oversight and ministered in the Gospel of Christ. And Paul addresses sister Phoebe with the same word (Rom 16:1). This implies that she too exercised oversight within the local Church at Cenchrea.

There are some who opine that Phoebe was merely a deacon, not an elder in the Church, since the word “diakonos” (διάκονος) could also mean “deacon” in some contexts (see Phi 1:1, 1 Tim 3:8, 12, cf. Acts 6:3).

The dilemma therefore is: Did Paul mean “diakonos” (διάκονος) in Romans 16:1 in the context of a deacon or Church elder (Pastor)? Reading in context will provide the necessary answers. Observe Paul’s instruction in Romans 16:2.

Romans 16:2 (NKJV)

2 that you MAY RECEIVE HER (Phoebe) in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also.

That phrase “to RECEIVE in the Lord” was used elsewhere for Epaphroditus.

Philippians 2:25, 29-30 (NKJV)

25 Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need;

29 RECEIVE HIM THEREFORE IN THE LORD with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem; 30 because for THE WORK OF CHRIST he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me.

The work of Christ” (vs. 30) would refer to the work of the ministry. It was common practice in the Early Church for letters of commendation to be sent from one Church to another, imploring them to RECEIVE ministers of the Gospel coming to them. Here (Philippians 2), Paul writes to the Philippians to receive Epaphroditus. This is the same thing happening in Romans 16. He informs the Romans of Phoebe’s arrival (vv. 1-2). She too is to be welcomed as a minister.

Phebe was a MINISTER of the Gospel, not merely a helper—she was the servant or minister of the Church at Cenchrea. And Paul instructs the Church at Rome to receive her as a minister. So we find a woman serve as an elder here.


Romans 16:7 (NKJV)

7 Greet Andronicus and JUNIA, my countrymen and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.

Here, Paul commends Andronicus and Junia who are “of note amongst the Apostles.” “Junia” (Ἰουνιᾶς) is a feminine name in the Greek. Paul calls both Andronicus and Junia his “fellow prisoners” (“sunaichmalótos” in the Greek). Paul used this title for fellow ministers of the Gospel:

He used it for Aristarchus, in Colossians 4:10, “Aristarchus my FELLOW PRISONER greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him).

Then for Epaphras in Philemon 1:23, “Epaphras, my FELLOW PRISONER in Christ Jesus, greets you.

Junia was definitely a minister of the Gospel, since Paul addresses her similiarly (in Rom 16:7).

Also, observe that in Romans 16:7, Paul mentions that Junia was “of note among the apostles.” The word “note” here translates the Greek “episémos” (ἐπίσημος) which means “famous or notable; well known.” The same word was used in a negative sense for Barabbas, in Matthew 27:16 (i.e. a notorious or well-known prisoner). So Paul intimates that Junia was well-known “among the apostles.” Now, what does this mean This statement (“well-known among the apostles“) could imply one of two things: either that Junia was recognized BY the apostles, or that she was A known apostle. The key is in the word “among.” It translates the Greek “en” (ἐν) which is used to group collective nouns i.e. what is “among” (“en”) a group belongs to it.

This word “en” (ἐν) is used as well in Matthew 11:11 by Jesus, “Assuredly, I say to you, AMONG (en) THOSE BORN OF WOMEN there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Here, John the Baptizer is grouped AMONGST (“en“) those born of women, meaning he is one of them! The word “en” (ἐν) groups collective nouns together.

So, we may read Romans 16:7 this way:

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen and my fellow prisoners, who are well-known amongst the apostles…

That is, they too were apostles, and well-known. We therefore find Junia, a woman-apostle, mentioned by Paul.

Tryphena, Tryphosa and Persis.

Romans 16:12 (NKJV)

12 Greet TRYPHENA and TRYPHOSA, who have LABORED in the Lord. Greet the beloved PERSIS, who labored much in the Lord.

These three women had laboured much in the Lord. Paul used the SAME word “labour” (“kopiaó” in the Greek) to refer to elders (or pastors) in 1 Thessalonians 5, “And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who LABOR AMONG YOU, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you” (vs. 12). So here (Rom 16:12), we find three female elders (pastors) WITHIN the Church, who laboured in the Lord.

Paul also mentions certain women who laboured with him in the Gospel, in Philippians 4:3, “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.

So Paul had women serve TOGETHER with him, as ministry associates. They were ACTIVELY involved in public ministry, just like Paul was.

Lois & Eunice.

Timothy had been brought up in the Christian faith right from a young age (see 2 Timothy 3:15). Paul met Timothy already saved, discipled and of good reputation amongst the saints (Acts 16:1-2).

In 2 Timothy 1:5, Paul reveals that it was actually Timothy’s mother and grandmother who had discipled him in the faith.

2 Timothy 1:5 (NKJV)

5 when I call to remembrance THE GENUINE FAITH that is in you, WHICH DWELT FIRST in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded IS IN YOU ALSO.

Lois and Eunice were Timothy’s first contact with the Gospel; they transferred their knowledge of Scripture, faith and practice to the young lad Timothy via teaching. Interestingly, Timothy would later become the Pastor of the Churches at Ephesus (1 Tim 1:3). This Pastor owes his origins to women!

Women Teachers in Titus 2.

Paul speaks of older women who teach and admonish younger women in “good things.

Titus 2:3-4 (NKJV)

3 THE OLDER WOMEN likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, TEACHERS OF GOOD THINGS— 4 that they ADMONISH the young women to love their husbands, to love their children.

Women were not estopped from teaching and admonishing in the Early Church.

The Elect Lady.

The Apostle John writes his second Epistle to the Elect Lady.

2 John 1:1 (NKJV)

1 The Elder,

To THE ELECT LADY and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth.

The word “lady” here translates the Greek “kuria” (κυρία) which is the feminine form of “kurios” (κύριος), meaning “lord, one who rules.” This implies that she was a female elder (she ruled over a local assembly).

John makes mention of her children, in vs. 1, “…To the elect lady and her CHILDREN…” These children refer to the Christians in her church. The word “children” is often used for disciples in the Epistles. For example, Paul calls the Corinthian Church his “children” (in 1 Corin 4:14-16). This means he got them saved by preaching the Gospel to them (vs. 15), and also that he helped disciple them. He had spiritual oversight over them. They were to follow his footsteps (vs. 16). So “children” are disciples in this context.

Therefore, in 2 John 1:1, the “children” of this elect lady would be her disciples, i.e. members of her local assembly. She exercised spiritual oversight in that local Church and over its members, and she was doing a good job! John says in vs. 4, “I REJOICED GREATLY that I have found some of your children WALKING IN TRUTH, as we received commandment from the Father.” Her children were walking in the truth of God’s Word.

John then goes on to give her further instructions for her Church, in vv. 7-11.

2 John 1:7-11 (NKJV)

7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8 LOOK TO YOURSELVES (an instruction), that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward. 9 Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10 IF ANYONE COMES TO YOU and DOES NOT BRING THIS DOCTRINE, DO NOT RECEIVE HIM INTO YOUR HOUSE (or her Church; the Church met in her house) nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.

John instructs the Elect Lady to protect her Church against false preachers. This is the pastor’s role (Acts 20:17, 28-31). This is what Timothy did at Ephesus also (see 1 Tim 1:2-7).

We have therefore seen from the Old Testament, the Four Gospel Accounts, Acts and the Epistles that ministry was NEVER gender-based. From the preponderance of the evidence, it is CLEAR that women functioned as spiritual leaders in the Bible. This means we have to understand what exactly Paul meant in those two passages (1 Timothy 2:11-12 & 1 Corinthians 14:34-35), since the Bible does not contradict itself.

Paul cannot sincerely teach that women are not permitted to preach from Genesis to Malachi. Women did preach in the Old Testament! (we’ve seen that).

The promise of ministry is given to ALL, irrespective of gender. On the Day of Pentecost, Peter expounded on the prophecy given by Joel concerning this.

Acts 2:14-18 (NKJV)

14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. 15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on ALL FLESH (both male and female); your sons and your DAUGHTERS shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. 18 And on My menservants and on My MAIDSERVANTS I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy.

Joel prophesied that the Spirit would be given to ALL who believe, irrespective of their gender! The word “maidservants” (vs. 18) translates the Greek “doulas” (plural of “doulé“), which means a female servant; one who does the will of another.

So Joel prophesies that when the Spirit is poured out, we would find women doing God’s will (His plan) on the Earth.

That will is that:

all be saved.

1 Timothy 2:3-4 (NKJV)

3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who DESIRES all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

and that saved men be discipled, trained and equipped for ministry.

Ephesians 4:11-12 (NKJV)

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 FOR THE EQUIPPING OF THE SAINTS FOR THE WORK OF MINISTRY, for the edifying of the body of Christ.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV)

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be COMPLETE, THOROUGHLY EQUIPPED FOR EVERY GOOD WORK.

Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV)

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL THE NATIONS, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 TEACHING THEM to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Joel prophesies that when the Spirit is given, there will be male and FEMALE servants of God, carrying out this plan (of salvation and discipleship) on the Earth. The Spirit has now been given! The Church is such that a person’s gender neither qualifies nor disqualifies him for service.

Galatians 3:26-27 (NKJV)

26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is NEITHER MALE NOR FEMALE; for you are ALL ONE in Christ Jesus.

There is no segregation based on gender in Christ’s Church. Every believer in Christ has received a ministry, irrespective of his/her gender!

2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (NKJV)

17 Therefore, if ANYONE is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has GIVEN US (anyone in Christ) the MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION, 19 that is, that God was in Christ RECONCILING the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has COMMITTED TO US THE WORD OF RECONCILIATION.

Whoever is a new creation (vs. 17) has the ministry of reconciliation (vs. 18) and the word (or message) of reconciliation (vs. 19) committed to him/her. Gender therefore, is NEVER a qualifying factor in the service of God.

This then leads us to the texts used by some to bar women from public ministry today (1 Corinthians 14:34-35 & 1 Timothy 2:11-12).


1 Corinthians 14:34-35.


1 Corinthians 14:34-35 (NKJV)

34 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.

This may be understood in a simple way. Note that in the New Testament, there is just ONE Greek word for “woman,” either married or unmarried. It is the word “guné” (γυνή), which is used 217 times in the New Testament portion of the Bible. The NT uses “woman” (“guné“) for both a single woman and wife. There is no Greek word for “wife“, unlike English that has “woman” then “wife” for a married woman.

This means that the interpreter has a RESPONSIBILITY to find out the CONTEXT in which the word “guné” (γυνή) is used. He must ask: Is it referring to ALL WOMEN generally or to WIVES specifically, in that given context? (Let us term this “the guné principle“).

Take 1 Corinthians 7:1, for example. It says, “Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.” “Woman” (“guné“) here would be an unmarried woman, since fornication (“touching an unmarried woman“) is not allowed.

But observe the next verse, “Nevertheless, because of SEXUAL IMMORALITY, let each man have his own wife (guné), and let each WOMAN (guné) have her own husband” (vs. 2).

Wife” and “woman” here are the SAME word in the Greek (guné). So the Greek says:

…let each man have his own guné, and let each guné have her own husband.

Now, how do we know if “guné” here (vs. 2) is “wife” or “woman“? The context. Paul says: “…let each guné have HER OWN HUSBAND.” The term “husband” (“anér” in the Greek) shows that Paul is referring to a marital institution. So “wife” is appropriate here (in vs. 2).

1 Corinthians 11:3 also serves to illustrate this point. It says, “But I want you to know that the head of EVERY MAN is Christ, the head of WOMAN is MAN, and the head of Christ is God.

To begin with, “every man” here needs to be qualified. Christ is not the head of the unsaved man. He is under the lordship of the devil (see Eph 2:1-3, 1 John 5:19, 2 Tim 2:23-26).

So we may better read the text thus:

The head of every (saved) husband is Christ and the head of THE WIFE is the husband.

This is not teaching that the head of every woman in Church is the man. Absolutely not! This is between HUSBAND and WIFE. Paul is teaching authority here, within the marital institution. So, obviously, “man” and “woman” here (1 Corinthians 11) referred to a married couple, husband and wife.

This means that instructions of submission in the Epistles are for MARRIED COUPLES ONLY, not the whole Church (i.e. WHENEVER the Epistles tell a woman to submit, it is IN MARRIAGE ONLY!). The man is head of the woman, in marriage only.

Let’s read 1 Corinthians 14:34 again, with this in mind.

34 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.

The reader must immediately apply the “guné principle” here: Does “women” in this text refer to ALL women in Church or just wives? The context tells us. The next verse (vs. 35) says, “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.

This is not a general instruction for ALL women in the Church, but for wives only, since Paul speaks of “husbands at home.

1 Corinthians 14:34 may therefore be better understood thus:

Let your WIVES keep silent in the churches, for THEY (the wives) ARE NOT PERMITTED TO SPEAK; but they (wives) are to BE SUBMISSIVE…

Again, to speak here does not refer to public speaking or public ministry. In 1 Corinthians 11:5, Paul speaks of women prophesying (public ministry).

1 Corinthians 11:5 (NKJV)

5 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.

Women were allowed to pray and prophesy PUBLICLY. Also, in 1 Corinthians 14:26 (just a few verses earlier), Paul says, “How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, EACH OF YOU (including the woman) has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.

So women had psalms, tongues, teachings, revelations and interpretations in the gatherings. Definitely, women were not barred from public speaking in the Early Church. This is why 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 cannot be referring to silencing women from preaching. Women are not stopped from speaking in PUBLIC MINISTRY, but women are stopped from A CERTAIN KIND of speaking;

1 Corinthians 14:34-35 (NKJV)

34 Let your WOMEN (wives) keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak (not every kind of speaking, but a certain kind of speaking); 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 (wives) to speak in church.

Now, the word “speak” here translates the Greek word “laleó” (λαλέω) which means “to prattle” or “to chatter noisily” in the original language. “Laleó” (λαλέω) is derived from “lalos” (which means “talkative“). So Paul refers, not to speaking in public ministry, but to talking incessantly, in a disruptive or noisy manner. In fact, it is from this word “laleó” (λαλέω) that we get the English onomatopoeic term “la-la-la” or “blah blah blah” (i.e. being lousy or to babble trivially).

Recall that Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians was written to correct DISORDER in the Corinthian Church. One of such corrections was within family/spousal life. In 1 Corinthians 11, he corrected women who were dishonouring their husbands, by not covering their heads (as their custom demanded). Now, that correction continues here. (1 Corinthians 14)—those SAME WOMEN were also dishonouring their husbands, by disrupting the services! So Paul is correcting LOUSY, INSUBORDINATE women here.

Some certain kinds of women are in view in 1 Corinthians 14:34. Notice Paul says “YOUR women,” referring to the Corinthian women of that day—lousy, noise-making and disrespectful women who disturbed the service. These are the ones he tells to be silent in the Church. It is shameful for a wife to make noise in the service. She should not be a chatterbox, and dishonour her husband. If she wants to learn anything, she can ask her husband much later, after the Church service is concluded.

The word “silent” (in vs. 34) translates the Greek “sigaó” (σιγάω) which means “to hold one’s peace.” So Paul is telling these unruly wives to be calm and collected in the services i.e. “Hold your peace!” He tells them to be submissive in Church, BECAUSE they were NOT being SUBMISSIVE.


1 Timothy 2:11-12.


The second text (1 Timothy 2:11-12) may also be explained similiarly, i.e. within a spousal context.

1 Timothy 2:11-12 (NKJV)

11 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.

Remember, the “guné principle.” Always ask the simple question: Does “woman” in the text I read refer to the female generally, or a wife? The context would reveal the answer.

Observe the context of 1 Timothy 2:11-12. The succedent text (vs. 13) reads, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve.” Mentioning “Adam and Eve” (a couple) readily shows that Paul’s context here is marriage. So the woman here (vv. 11-12) is the wife. 1 Timothy 2:11-12 may therefore be better read this way:

11 Let a WIFE learn in silence with all submission. 12 And I do not permit A WIFE to teach or to have authority over HER man (i.e. her HUSBAND), but to BE IN SILENCE.

The word “learn” in vs. 11 translates the Greek “manthanó” (μανθάνω) which simply means to be informed. Now, what she is learning (vs. 11) is not the Word, but instructions from her husband. This is learning within a family setting. So the wife is to receive instructions from him in silence and submission (as he corrects and leads her as head of the home). “Silence” here doesn’t mean “speechlessness.” It translates the Greek word “hésuchia” (ἡσυχία) which means “calmness, stillness.” The same word was used in 2 Thessalonians 3:11-12 as the opposite of a busy body. Paul’s point is this: a woman, when being instructed by her husband, should be calm. She should not be a busy body.

Vs. 12 then says, “And I do not permit a woman (wife) to teach or to have authority over a man (her husband), but to be in silence.

The word “teach” here translates the Greek “didaskó” (διδάσκω). Contextually, it means “to direct, to tell where to go.” Obviously, this is not directing in ministry (preaching and teaching the Word), but marriage. In ministry, women CAN tell men where to go. They CAN teach! But IN MARRIAGE, as the husband corrects his wife, the wife is not permitted to talk back or be rude. She is not to attempt to control him. She should be in silence (calmness). Remember, to “talk back” would be the wife trying to “have authority” over her husband. But the head of the wife is her husband (1 Corin 11:3 tells us).

That phrase “have authority” as used here (vs. 12) translates the Greek “authenteó” (αὐθεντέω) which means to domineer, govern, have mastery over. This word was used in ancient Greek times to describe someone who is acting as an autocrat (a self-appointed ruler) i.e. someone who does not want to submit to rightful authority. So the wife must not “stage a coup” against her husband; he is the RIGHTFUL head of the home. The wife must not try to dominate him (by teaching, directing or leading him). She should trust his wisdom in the decisions he makes as the head of the family. This is ALL Paul seeks to teach here (1 Timothy 2:11-12). He is not referring to Ministry AT ALL. The only man the wife is expected to submit to is HER HUSBAND. The woman is to be submissive to her husband and HIM ALONE. They both submit to their spiritual leader (pastor), who submits to Christ (Heb 13:17, 1 Corin 11:1).

This interpretation is consistent with the rest of the Epistles, which teach that wives submit to their husbands:

1 Peter 3:1-6 (NKJV)

1 Wives, likewise, BE SUBMISSIVE to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. 3 Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— 4 rather let it be the HIDDEN PERSON of THE HEART, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, BEING SUBMISSIVE to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah OBEYED ABRAHAM, calling him LORD (“sir”), whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.

Ephesians 5:22-24 (NKJV)

22 WIVES, SUBMIT TO YOUR OWN HUSBANDS, AS TO THE LORD. 23 For THE HUSBAND IS HEAD OF THE WIFE, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is SUBJECT to Christ, SO LET THE WIVES BE TO THEIR OWN HUSBANDS IN EVERYTHING.

This is the ONLY time a woman is expected to go lower than a man; in marriage. But in life and ministry, a woman can excel EVEN MORE than men.

So, we see that God’s Word NEVER bars a woman from pastoring a local assembly. Any woman who will allow herself be trained in the things of God (Eph 4:11-12, 2 Tim 3:16-17) can become an elder in a local Church. As she labors in the Word and is proven faithful, she too will be reckoned fit to lead amongst the saints.

In conclusion, 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 is telling the lousy Corinthian wives not to bring shame on their husbands, by disrupting the services. An uncoordinated wife will bring dishonour on her husband. And 1 Timothy 2:11-12 is telling wives not to TALK BACK at their husbands or try to control them (usurp their authority), but to listen to them calmly and thoughtfully. Both texts are instructions within the context of marriage, and neither imply that women cannot lead a local Church today.


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2022.


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