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:
- 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.