Four questions about women apostles

After the last post on women apostles, I received a comment raising a number of questions about women in leadership. I thought it might be worthwhile to respond a little more publicly, so here goes!

I blogged extensively on the subject of women a few months back. There are around 20 posts, beginning here.

These are the questions that were posed following the last post:

  1.  Jesus chose twelve men to act as the original twelve apostles. Shouldn't he have chosen six men and six women?

In the context of Jewish life, imagine the raised eyebrows if Jesus had had female disciples! He would have had some explaining to do!

 However he did have a group of women who followed him in much the same way as the disciples did. (Matt 27:25; Mk 15:41; Lk 8:1-3; Lk 23:49), . Women played key roles, for example at the time of his burial and resurrection. He treated them as equals, not inferiors. Consider, for example, his deep theological discussions with the woman at the well, or with Martha on the subject of the resurrection.

        2.  The obvious log in my eye would be Paul's comments for women to remain silent in the                church. Should they?

You can find an explanation of the challenging Scriptures here (1 Corinthians 14) and here (1 Timothy 2). 

        3. The scripture, specifically the New Testament, is full of women interacting both on the street               and in the church. Are any of them performing the duties of an apostle?

Junia is the obvious example of an apostle since she is clearly described as such. However, Priscilla may have functioned in that role–she is usually mentioned before Aquila, and Paul described them as co-workers.

In our day, there are many women who function apostolically. Think for example, of Heidi Baker who with Rolland have seen more than 10,000 churches start in Mozambique and the surrounding countries. 

        4. Both qualifications of Elders and Deacons in the New Testament refer to men in the church.              So where are the women elders and women deacons?

 Verse 11 of 1 Tim 3 talks about the qualifications of women in a leadership context. The NLT translates this passage as "In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything." Note that the word here translated accurately "women" in other older versions is translated "wives" which is perhaps why this verse is taken to apply to the wives of elders and deacons. 

We know that Phoebe was a deacon (Romans 16:1). Personally I see no problem with this verse applying to women as elders. The description of both deacons and women begins, "likewise," or "in the same way" referring to the qualifications of elders. It depends a bit on what one means by elders and deacons. I will get to looking at this subject soon, but they are not what is typically seen in most churches today.

9 thoughts on “Four questions about women apostles”

  1. Restating question five and it’s premise: The 11 disciples replaced Judas, the lot falling to Matthais. Here is the question correctly written with the contraction for “did not’. 🙂
    5. Why didn’t the eleven choose a woman to replace Judas as one of the twelve?
    http://www.zianet.com/maxey/reflx201.htm
    I’m no bible scholar, but I have myself at times strained at a gnat and accidently swallowed a camel. It was quite painful but I lived and am okay, praise God. Could I add a sixth question to my initial post?
    Junia/Junias, kinfolk of Paul, no doubt about that, it’s plain.
    6. Would we want to establish a bible doctrine on the evidence contained in a single verse, even if it is on shaky ground and could go either way?
    “Junias/Junia — This particular individual known to Paul is also mentioned only here in all of the New Testament writings. “The sum of our knowledge consists in what is here said” (Moses E. Lard, A Commentary on Paul’s Letter to the Romans, p. 455). The major debate with regard to this second person mentioned in Rom. 16:7 is over whether this individual is a man or a woman. Scholarship is very much divided on this issue, and the debate has often been extremely heated, primarily because of the implications if this is indeed a female. “As the name occurs in the accusative case, it may be either Junias, a masculine name contracted from Junianus, or Junia, a common feminine name” (Dr. James Hastings, Dictionary of the Apostolic Church, vol. 1, p. 665). “It is impossible, as this name occurs in the accusative case, to determine whether it is masculine or feminine” (ibid, p. 57). “The name may be masculine, ‘Junias,’ a contraction of Junianus, or feminine, ‘Junia.’ It is the accusative form that is given” (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, vol. 2, p. 1165).”
    I might add, that this commentary has much more to say, but for brevity and to stay on point, the link will take you to the balance, he argues both directions and well, take a look….. bd
    Please see my comments under Female Apostles? simplychurch.com for thoughts about my wife in ministry, she’s a jewel, a servant’s heart and loved to the max inside and outside the kingdom. Great thread.

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  2. It seems that most arguments against women in ministry rely on a few isolated proof texts for support. 1 Timothy 3 is probably the one relied on the most. However, the occassion of 1 Timothy is a problem in the church at Ephesus which Timothy was sent by Paul to correct and establish true doctrine and proper order. I don’t think that the instructions were intended for all women in all churches for all time. Unfortunately folks of the fundamentalist mind set use this text to perpetrate law upon the church. The word “wives” in 3:11 is properly translated “women”. The ASV has translated the word “women” correctly.Sorry any KJV only folks! Loren Pederson

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  3. In my opinion when we talk of issues like this we tend to view the Scriptures like a text book given as a set of rules. In doing this, we strip it out of its cultural context. Just like we have to be aware of the culture around us and how certain behaviors will be understood, so did the early Christians.
    The Jewish, Greek and Latin cultures of the time were highly misogynistic. Women were little more than property. At best they were treated like children. Then we see Paul come along and allow women to prophecy in church, have spiritual gifts, state “nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” We can begin to see how radical Christianity really was.
    Paul pushed things as hard as he could without upsetting the apple cart. But he never did anything that would end up stopping the gospel. He did the same thing concerning something as obviously counter gospel as slavery.
    We don’t have a culture that necessarily wants to isolate women to childhood or worse (although of course we still have misogynistic echoes in our culture and more than a few misogynists). Let’s make the best of it.
    Finally, Bruce, in this particular case I’m going to disagree with you. Accusative case aside, when one looks at this argument not merely from the current state of the debate but also as an historical issue one notes something interesting. Junia was taken as a woman until the Middle Ages. Then she was turned into a man. The debate started there. The early writers, who were native Greek speakers (John Chrysostom for one) always understood her to be a woman. Yes, there were obvious implications for this reality. We should take note.

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  4. I don’t think Paul has been misinterpreted. I think he has been ignored in light of our current culture. Ignoring scripture puts us in peril of making it say what we want whenever we want. May I quote Paul from Titus?
    Titus 2 1 You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. 2 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. 3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
    Paul’s charge to Titus is plain. Earlier his purpose in leaving Titus in Crete is clear, appoint elders, who must be the hustand of but one wife, children in subjection. Also he must be hospitable, blameless (wow), not over-bearing, loves what is good, self-controlled, upright, holy, disciplined. He must hold to the message he was taught so he may encourage other by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. (Paraphrase Titus 1:5-9)
    Time for this guitar maker to return to work. Cheers to Jesus one and all, Bruce.

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