People sometimes write us to ask where they can find evidence that actual women held official positions of church officership. Professor Greg Horsley of Macquarie University, Australia, has kindly supplied us with the following partial list of references to women in church leadership.
This passage in I Timothy has caused much confusion about what women can or cannot do in church services or in teaching. In the oft-heated discussions, a verse or two, or even a single phrase is sometimes selected and the rest of the passage ignored.
We turn our attention to the presence or absence of the Greek article in the crucial passages that have been used for centuries to limit the participation of women in teaching and leadership in the church.
Junia, the female companion of Andronicus, has the unique distinction (for one of her sex) of being referred to by St. Paul as an apostle (Romans 16:7). Although she was one of Paul’s relatives, coming to faith ahead of her more famous kinsman, we know but little about her ministry.
Many contemporary evangelical Bible scholars and theologians, not to mention ordinary lay men and women, are convinced that attempts to use the Bible so as to exclude women from positions of leadership for which their Creator has made them and to which their Lord as called them – whether in society, home or church – is flawed.
The Bible sets forth an ideal and calls the ideal woman an eshet-chayil, which is the Hebrew for a “virtuous woman” (KJV) or a “wife of noble character” (NIV). This Hebrew expression occurs only three times in the Old Testament, but a study of these three passages is likely to reveal what the Bible supports as an ideal of Christian womanhood.
There are many models of ministry. Women are as diverse as men in the patterns of ministry they follow. But let's look at the response of this one woman to Jesus to learn more about the place of women in ministry.
If God could call and equip women for this office and ministry without violating their roles as wives and mothers in ancient Israel, why can He not do so in the Church today? Indeed, in light of what Joel 2:28-32 has to say about the Messianic Age, the “New Age of Prophecy”, these OT women and their prophetic ministries are of typological significance for the kinds of ministries to which God may call and equip women in the Church.
John Chrysostom (died A.D. 407) preached consistently through the Scriptures and many of his sermons are still extant. Here, for the first time in English, is his first sermon on Priscilla and Aquila. Translated from the Greek, by Catherine Clark Kroeger, Ph.D., CBE president, author, and classical scholar.