Women in Ministry, Leadership, and Pastoral Roles
“If Yahweh were a discriminator against gender, the greatest truth on which the gospel hangs is the resurrection. Why in Heaven’s name did He (Yeshua) reveal himself to the women to go and tell the message?” Ravi Zacharias on “Does God Favor a Gender?” There are a handful of scriptures in the New Testament that address a group of women in the church. It is important that any time we read passages from the Bible, 1. We consider the context in which the verses are taken from, as well as 2. To whom the scriptures are addressing, and 3. What the words mean in their original written language. Additionally, as Torah observant believers, we need to align the scriptures through the Witness of Yeshua in the New Testament and the Old Testament. Let us look at the following scriptures in Timothy: Women should remain silent in church. 1Timothy 2:9-11 9Likewise, that the women dress themselves becomingly, with decency and sensibleness, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly garments, 10 but with good works, which is becoming for women undertaking worship of Elohim. 11 Let a woman learn in silence (G2271, 2272 hesuchia=stillness, peaceable), in all subjection. TS2009. Compare to TLV, 11 “Let a woman receive training in a quiet demeanor with complete respect for order.” If we take these instructions that were written from Paul to Timothy regarding the Church in Ephesus, we might be tempted to create a doctrine around this that prevents women from not only serving in the ministry, but also from wearing braids in their hair, gold jewelry, pearls, and speaking at all in a church service. We would be missing the point of this instruction. The thrust of this passage was specific, intentional training coming from Paul to Timothy (who was the head of the church in Ephesus). Hints within the text exist that give insight to the church culture in Ephesus as well as the problems that they were dealing with. Acts 19:27 describes the environment of Ephesus at this time. 27 “. . . the temple of the great female mighty one Artemis whom all Asia and the world worship . . .” Ephesus was near the sea, it was a major crossroads between Asia and Europe. There were Romans, Greeks, and Jews living there. The culture was mixed with paganism and the beginnings of Christianity. The worship of the fertility goddess Diana (AKA Artemis) was very popular; there was even a temple there with that name and men and women dedicated to the priestly service in this temple. It consisted of prostitution, sexual dominion, and other kinds of perverse teachings. https://housetohouse.com/the-history-of-the-church-of-ephesus-in-time-lapse-photography/ We need to take into account the reason Paul wrote these instructions to Timothy. Who was Paul really addressing? We know from scripture that Paul was mentoring Timothy. 1 Tim. 1:3- states that Paul is ordering Timothy to remain in Ephesus so that he can command the church body not to teach differently (than how he was taught), not to pay attention to fables, endless genealogies which cause disputes, rather than teaching Torah grounded in Yeshua. There were many there wishing to be teachers of Torah, but without understanding it or its righteous application. “It is written to the lawless and the unruly”, Paul states in verse 9. This is exactly why Paul was so adamant that Timothy stay and properly teach the understanding of Torah through Yeshua. This is why Paul also tells Timothy in verse 8, “So I resolve that the men pray everywhere, lifting up hands that are set-apart, without wrath and disputing.” He is seeking to resolve the conflicts that Timothy has been dealing with, including the potential arguments. How does the original Greek translation read of 1 Timothy? We should also look at the original Greek language in which these scriptures are written. Notice that the word, “silence” in verse 11 is actually the Greek word more commonly used to mean ‘peaceable’, G2271 (the feminine form of 2272) = hesuchia(os)=peaceable. In fact, if we look at V. 2 from this same chapter, it reads, “For sovereigns and all those who are in authority, in order that we lead a calm and peaceable (G2272 hesuchios=peaceable, undisturbed) life in all reverence and seriousness.” (TS2009) Why did the translators use a word that is always translated as peaceable, (hesuchio) as “silence” only when it referred to women? We need to ask ourselves what motivated translators in this intentional decision? Note also, that verse 2 says for “all” (G3956 pas=all, every, whole) that are in authority; it does not limit this to men only. How do these verses in Timothy align with examples throughout the New Testment? Paul had female co-laborers. How do we reconcile these scriptures with examples of women like Priscilla who was a co-laborer with Paul? (Romans 16:3-5) This verse introduces both Priscilla and her husband, Aquila, but names her first. This would imply that she held an even higher status or was a greater help to Paul. Did she remain silent when ministering with Paul? Priscilla and Aquila held an assembly in their home. In this case, they would have had several people meeting in their home on a weekly basis. Is it realistic to assume that Priscilla was silent in their home while hosting an assembly of believers? Is it reasonable to think that all of the women in attendance were to remain silent while the men fellowshipped? Women are not to have authority over a man. 12 But I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, rather, to be in silence (G2271, 2272 hesuchia =stillness, peaceable). Who is being addressed in this verse, what is the context, and what is the original meaning? This goes back to the previous verses on the women remaining silent. The same word, Hesuchia=G2271, G2272, translated as “peaceable” is again being translated as “silence.” Additionally, the word used for “authority”=G831=authenteo in this verse, is the only time this word is used in the ENTIRE BIBLE, even though the concept of authority is taught all over the bible. Why was this particular translation of the word, ‘authority’ chosen? Authenteo=G831 used here actually means to have mastery over, self-appoint, take up arms. Nobody doing God’s work should be operating under this definition of authority, whether it is a man or a woman. The word most commonly used (108 times throughout the Bible) to express the concept of “authority” is G1849, Exousia=ability, privilege, delegated influence, competency. There was a reason the more extreme definition of this word G831 was used in verse 12. Paul was addressing Timothy regarding a woman, or possibly women that were dominating or trying to usurp (take what was not theirs). A strong response was needed. Does this verse mean that Paul intended that all women could never hold any authority over men? We have numerous examples throughout the whole bible, but the one that is really hard to dismiss is Deborah. We see that in Judges 4 she is not only a judge, but also a prophetess, and goes to battle with the commander of her army. She was the wife of someone named Lappidoth, who was also most likely a prominent figure, particularly since Deborah is introduced as ‘his wife’ rather than his being introduced as ‘her husband’. She dwelt under a palm tree named after her, and “The children of Israel came up to her for right-ruling.” (Judges 4:5). This would include men and women. Judges hold authority. Judges also instruct from time to time. If this wasn’t enough, she roused the commander of the army to go to war and throw off the yoke of oppression of Yabin the Sovereign of Canaan. “He had 900 chariots of iron, and for twenty years he harshly oppressed the children of Israel.” (Judges 4:3) Deborah sent and called for Baraq, who was the commander of the army, she charged him with taking 10,000 men of Israel to fight, and to take Sisera, the commander of Yabin’s army. Baraq told her that he would only go to war if Deborah went with him. Why? Was he not a commander of 10,000 men? Did he perhaps recognize a Godly authority on her that he wanted to go with him? We know that she does go with him, Yahweh delivers up Yabin’s army, and Sisera is slain by another woman, named Ya’el! She is heralded as a blessing in Judges 5:24-27. All of this brought 40 years of peace to the land. If women truly were not permitted to teach men, then would this not also prevent them from teaching their own sons once they reached adulthood? Would this also stop the woman of the home from being able to instruct a male-house servant? We know that there were women business owners. Realistically speaking, they would need to instruct their male employees from time-to-time. It is odd to note that in 1 Timothy 2:8-10 “men” and “women” are addressed, but then one verse later, it uses the word “woman” and “man” in the singular. It is speculated by historians that Paul was speaking about a specific couple within the church who were causing dissension. He may not have known their names, or chose not to directly state them. Also, the words used here for ‘woman’ and ‘women‘ is wife. G1135=gune=wife. https://prodigalthought.net/2010/07/16/the-role-of-women-1-timothy-28-15/ Women can’t be overseers or deacons. Leadership qualities are written only to men, yet Phoebe was a deacon. 1 Timothy 3:1-5 1Trustworthy is the word: If a man longs for the position of an overseer, (G1984=Bishop) he desires a good work. 2An overseer, then, should be blameless, the husband of one wife, sober, sensible, orderly, kind to strangers, able to teach, 3not given to wine, no brawler, but gentle, not quarrelsome, no lover of silver, 4one who rules his own house well, having his children in subjection with all reverence, 5for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how shall he look after the assembly of Elohim? This seems pretty clear that the office of overseer, or one who serves as a bishop, is only written to males. The very next set of verses has similar qualifications for someone serving as a deacon (attendant). 1 Timothy 3:8-12 8Likewise attendants (G1249=Deacon) are to be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for filthy gain, 9holding to the secret of the belief with a clean conscience. 10And let these also be proved first, then let them serve, if they are unreprovable. 11Wives in the same way: reverent, not false accusers, sober, trustworthy in every way. 12Let attendants be the husbands of only one wife, ruling children and their own houses well. How do we reconcile these verses in Timothy with the position that Phoebe operated in? Romans 16:1 1And I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant (G1249=Deacon) of the assembly in Kenḥrea, 2that you receive her in יהוה, worthy of the set-apart ones, and assist her in whatever matter she has need of you. For she has been a great help to many, including me. Phoebe was lauded by Paul as a great help to him. She was a female, but did not meet the criteria in Timothy for a deacon. How do we reconcile what seems to be a contradiction here? Perhaps this criterion was once again written specifically for the Church at Ephesus. We know this church was dealingThis church was encompassed by an extremely pagan culture that included female goddess worship (Artemis A.K.A. Diana)(Acts 19:27), as well as the temple cult prostitutes that held dominion over men, (there were also male prostitutes), and the influence of the gnostics infiltrating the church. https://margmowczko.com/1-timothy-212-in-context-3/ Moses’ father-in-law gives criteria for picking leaders among the Hebrews. Yahweh endorses these qualifications by blessing them later. We are given criteria for leaders in Exodus 18:21, “But you yourself, seek out from all the people able men (H582, 605=enowsh=mortals), who fear Elohim, men of truth, hating unfair gain. And place these over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.” The word, “iysh” (H376) or even the word “adam” (H120) was not used here. Instead, the genderless word “mortal, enowsh” (H582) was used in the above scriptures. The culture at the time may have lent itself to the men rising up to these positions; women were the child-bearers and home-makers which was their first calling. This may have precluded them from serving in these areas. We see that Yahweh had no such laws against women though. After the golden calf incident, it says, “Moses stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, ‘Who is for Yahweh? Come to me.’” Genesis 32:26 This sounds like an open call to men and to women, as long as they had a heart to serve and stand up for righteousness. It also says that women are to be silent in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35. 34Let your women be silent in the assemblies, for they are not allowed to speak, but let them subject themselves, as the Torah also says. 35And if they wish to learn whatever, let them ask their own husbands at home, for it is improper for women to speak in an assembly. The Church at Corinth had its issues too: factionalism, lawsuits, immorality, dietary questions, idol worship, and a general lack of order. https://www.bibleodyssey.org/en/places/related-articles/church-at-corinth In 1 Corinthians 11:3-5, we see that women were speaking in the Corinthian church. They were permitted to pray and even prophesy. 3And I wish you to know that the head of every man is the Messiah, and the head of woman is the man, and the head of Messiah is Elohim. 4Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, brings shame to his Head. 5And every woman praying or prophesying with her head uncovered brings shame to her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. We can infer from these scriptures that this is referring to praying without the covering of an authority, not hair. He later goes on to say in verse 16 that they do not have such customs (as head coverings). Paul states that men and women are subject to each other. 1 Corin. 11:11-12 11However, man is not independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Master. 12For as the woman was from the man, even so the man also is through the woman. But all are from Elohim. Why do we not see any women serving as heads of a congregation? Lydia was most likely the congregational leader in her home. Acts 16:14 14 And a certain woman named Ludia, a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, worshipping Elohim, was hearing, whose heart the Master did open to pay attention to what Sha’ul said. 15 And when she was immersed, and her household, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be believing in the Master, come to my house and stay.” And she urged us. 40 So coming out of the prison, they went to Ludia, and seeing the brothers, they encouraged them, and went forth. We know that she was a business owner, most likely wealthy since she sold purple cloth. She was found worshipping with other ladies by the river where they met regularly, Paul and others stayed with her after coming out of prison. He gathered believers at her house in Philippi and left it to her once he left. He visited this home fellowship regularly. (Acts 20) How do we reconcile these verses with the whole of scripture? One of the questions that we, as Torah-observant believers in Messiah have to ask ourselves is this: If God’s heart-intent really was to prevent women from having positions of leadership within the body, then why is it not taught explicitly throughout the whole bible, particularly in the Torah, where His instruction is disseminated to His children? Why do we only find a few verses in the New Testament written to certain churches dealing with definite issues? We have numerous examples of women throughout the Old and New Testament in positions of authority, as elders, prophets, teachers, leaders, and even an apostle. Women were exhorted to teach in Titus 2:2 3 the older women likewise are to be set-apart in behaviour, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of what is good, Women were permitted to pray and prophesy in church. This would involve speaking out loud and having authority in a service. 1 Cor. 11:5. Elohim made mankind in His image, male and female. Genesis 1:26-27 26 And Elohim said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over the livestock, and over all the earth and over all the creeping creatures that creep on the ground.” 27 And Elohim created the man in His image, in the image of Elohim He created him – male and female He created them. When we deny one of God’s children based on her gender, we deny part of the very image of God who created her. God instructed both Adam and Eve. Genesis 1:28 28 And Elohim blessed them, and Elohim said to them, “Be fruitful and increase, and fill the earth and subdue it, and rule over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over all creeping creatures on the earth.” Nazirite vow was open to both females and males. It allowed one to serve in the temple. Numbers 6:1-21 1 “And יהוה spoke to Mosheh, saying, 2“Speak to the children of Yisra’ĕl, and say to them, ‘When a man or woman does separate, by making a vow of a Nazirite, to be separate to יהוה,. . .” TS2009 Paul reflected Yahweh’s heart. Galatians 3:28 “There is not Jew nor Greek, there is not slave nor free, there is not male nor female, for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua. And if you are of Messiah, then you are seed of Abraham, and heirs according to the promise.” TS2009 Paul delivered a message of freedom and release from the bounds of tradition and societal norms. He reflected God’s heart here when he emphasized that we are ONE in Messiah-we are family. This is not to deny the unique gifts that Yeshua has given men and women, but rather to show that not one is regarded as higher than the other, including Jews and Gentiles, slaves and free men, as well as men and women. Line of Melchizedek was a priestly line that is intended forever. Hebrews 7:17-28 17for He does witness, “You are a priest forever according to the order of Malkitseḏeq.” 18For there is indeed a setting aside of the former command because of its weakness and unprofitableness, 19for the Torah perfected naught, but the bringing in of a better expectation, through which we draw near to Elohim. 20And it was not without an oath! 21For they indeed became priests without an oath, but He became Priest with an oath by Him who said to Him, “יהוה has sworn and shall not regret, ‘You are a priest forever according to the order of Malkitseḏeq.’ ” 22By as much as this יהושע has become a guarantor of a better covenant. 23And indeed, those that became priests were many, because they were prevented by death from continuing, 24but He, because He remains forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. 25Therefore He is also able to save completely those who draw near to Elohim through Him, ever living to make intercession for them. 26For it was fitting that we should have such a High Priest – kind, innocent, undefiled, having been separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens, 27who does not need, as those high priests, to offer up slaughter offerings day by day, first for His own sins and then for those of the people, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. 28For the Torah appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath which came after the Torah, appoints the Son having been perfected forever. Women in the Bible Lydia Acts 16:14-15, 50 Merchant and Congregational Leader Abigayle Naomi Ruth Elizabeth Luke 1:5-7, 24-25 Damaris Acts 17:34 Joanna & Susanna Luke 8:3 Philipp’s 4 Prophetess daughters Deborah Priscilla Queen Esther Sarah The leading women in Acts 17:4, 12 None of us is superior to the other. We only have the same privilege of taking on distinctive and complementary strengths and carrying on the message to the world.