Do you believe women can be preachers/pastors?

I wanted to chime back in with more thoughts snd scripture.

To begin the messages that Christ teaches about all being one in Christ is not presenting a genderless outlook. Gender is something respected throughout scriptures. It’s not ambiguous at all. Scripture clearly speaks about men and women throughout scripture. The Bible clearly defines husbands and wives. So there is not support outside of isolating and twisting context to proclaim that male and female is done away with.

Galatians 3:26-29 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

26 For you are all sons and daughters of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with 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. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.

In those verses it’s not talking about erasing anything, but that all are one in Christ. All are equally Gods. It even still uses “sons and daughters” in the same sentence. It’s not doing away with anything.

The other thing is that the qualifications fot being an elder is not murky. It’s very clear. It’s repeated in two different letters. Titus 1:5-9 and 1 Timothy 3:1-7.

Elders, overseers, and pastors are all within the same office. It’s the same position. They preform a specific role. They are the spiritual leaders over a organization and are held accountable for it. Hebrews 13:17. Also Acts 15 lines out that Elders were responsible for guiding the congregations and looking into matters. That’s why they had such strict stipulations on who could be an elder.

Some other issues I saw was a mistake in terminology and implications.

Unfortunately at the moment I have something I have to do. But there are definitely some other things that need to be placed in context such as what does it mean for a church to have been held within a church and what’s the differences between teachers and elders and so on. Several books by Everett Ferguson goes into great detail on these differences.

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I appreciate the consistency of your position. I have had bad experiences in churches before where they are sure that a woman can’t be an elder, but don’t have any problem with a single man, a younger man, a divorced man, a man with children who have turned away, or a man without children being an elder. In those cases, unlike yours, I think tradition is determining the position rather than the Bible.

The word “elder” means elderly. The description shows that it’s talking about someone old enough to have already raised a family. Having done so is a prerequisite. If we’re going to stick to the letter of the text, as you note, most men are ruled out as well as women.

But there’s more to church leadership than elders. Paul was a church leader, even though he was unmarried and almost certainly hadn’t raised children. Young Timothy is a church leader tasked with appointing elders, though not an elder himself. If there’s hope for a single man and a young man to lead the church, there’s hope for women too. That’s also why I focused last post on the more general texts about church leadership and service – texts that don’t single out either sex – as a better starting point for looking for biblical guidance on church leaders.

It’s problematic to model our church leadership on the elder system, since that system seems to be accommodated to the culture of its day. Elders at the city gate was not a New Testament innovation. 1 Timothy and Titus seem to borrow an existing cultural system, where old men are given prominent roles, and frame it for the church in a way that encourages the growth and service of those old men. Paul did much the same with the master/slave roles, so the problem only comes when we see the roles – elder, master, slave – as timeless.

Instead, just as we can be challenged in how we work by the master/slave passages, we can also find guidance about church leadership from the elder passages. It’s no different than a woman gaining wisdom from the book of Proverbs, even though most of it was originally penned for young men. Or how a woman may recognize that she should not lust for a man even though Jesus’ words singled out men who lust after women. It’s possible to extract principles that go beyond the gendered language they are couched in. While 1 Timothy 3 uses some male language (and translations add lots more), maleness is at best assumed, not required. The actual requirements for elders can easily apply to either sex: above reproach, faithful, not contentious, respected, a good teacher, has raised children well, etc.

But what of the most-raised passage, 1 Timothy 2:8–15? First, I don’t think it’s reasonable to think it just prohibits women from teaching men. The logic given – of Eve who was deceived and of the need for women to learn quietly – points to women who have been led astray. Why would Paul want misguided women to teach other women and children? Isn’t the danger of a misguided teacher higher when their audience doesn’t include the men who supposedly are less easily deceived and better able to counter their bad teaching?

So, I can’t see how the passage can reasonably be said to limit women to teaching other women and children (e.g. Sunday school teachers but not pastors). To make sense of the passage, the women Paul targets must be prohibited from teaching anyone. But does Paul target all women everywhere, or the women at Ephesus who had problems with some kind of false doctrine?

I think reading the full letter makes it abundantly clear that Paul is dealing with specific problems with those who have been led into false teaching, often women led astray by men (see 1 Timothy 1:3–7, 19–20; 4:1–3, 7; 5:13, 24; 6:3–5, 9, 20–21). Paul seems to write the instigators off: they are beyond the church’s reach to bring back into the fold. But he does try to save the women, those who have been deceived rather than willfully disobeying, by urging them to learn. Then, once they are no longer among the deceived, they will be like the other women who are not merely permitted but encouraged to teach (Titus 2:3).

Except Junia. :slight_smile:


I can explain that later on as well. The Bible has two different uses of the word apostles. Those that are simply any disciple starting a church and disciple that had to witness the baptisms by John and was chosen and given the ability to lay on hands. It’s a common misunderstanding among disciples that have not studied it out. Systematic theology
Within the New Testament really helps clarify things that are in scripture.

Though for this particular case it’s just simply clarified looking at what is actually said, verses what is forced into it. I’ll be back soon though to work through all of it because it’s very important actually to how the body of Christ operates.

To clarify, because it’s key to the answers, you’re talking about your experience only in Protestant churches, right Marshall? Thanks.

Yes, and specifically evangelical churches. I’ve also been part of Anabaptist churches, but that isn’t where I had those bad experiences.

Thank you. Would you then agree with me that a sound answer to the thread OPs question: “Only in protestantism”? The EWTN link by Mary DeTurris above sounds quite different from your words here, and also surely consistent with the teachings of Scripture, as well as the tradition of 1500 years before the Protestant Reformation. You are thus, subtly or non-subtly, suggesting a “novelty” in the history of the Church, as you are aware, right?

I wouldn’t want to speak for Catholicism, but since the opening post’s question is also asked by many Catholics, perhaps you don’t speak for them either.

Nor do I accept that everything outside of Catholicism is novel. From Luther on, the Protestant argument has not been for novelty, but resurrecting biblical teaching that the prevailing traditions and cultures neglected.

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No, I’m not a Roman Catholic and don’t speak for them. Sorry if it appeared I was trying to. I just linked to Mary DeTurris’ paper, which appears consistent with Catholic teachings.

Yes, I’m aware of what “the Protestant argument” has been for. That Protestantism actually does introduce “novelties” to historical teachings of the Christian Church is obvious though, right?

  • This is a bit long but I’m trying t make it shorter. It’s to help showcase that there is indeed a very real difference between apostles and elders , including not only in qualifications but duties.

Apostle is a term often misunderstood because it’s used loosely throughout scripture meaning ones sent “apostolos” and also meaning one of the men chosen by God.

This is a quick breakdown of how the apostleship is fleshed out. In the gospels we see Jesus calling for 12 men to be his disciples. One of these men, Judas betrays Jesus and kills himself. Before ascending Jesus tells the 11 disciples, now his apostles carrying out the great commission, not to leave Jerusalem but wait for the power promised to them. The promise of the baptism of the holt spirit. (It’s good to note it leaves off baptism of fire here for s reason. The apostles were not baptized with fire. No believer is.

Acts 1:4-5 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

4 Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; 5 for John baptized [c]with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Then in acts 1:8

Acts 1:8 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and as far as the remotest part of the earth.”

*It mentions when they receive the Holy Spirit they will also receive the power of the Holy Spirit making a clear distinction between the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the power of the Holy Spirit. It mentions that they , the apostles, will carry the gospel to their whole world. To Jerusalem ( Jews ) , Samaria ( half Jewish gentiles) and to the ends of the earth ( the gentiles ).

We skip ahead to acts 1:16-26 and see that they ran into a dilemma. They needed a man who had been with them since the beginning to replace Judas and so lots was cast and Matthias was selected as the replacement apostle.

Then in acts 2 we read of them being at Pentecost and the Holy Spirit feel on them in the the form of tongues on fire. They then begin to baptize the repented believers into Christ for the forgiveness of sins and to receive the Holy Spirit. In baptism the new believers received the Holy Spirit but not it’s power. We see see from what happens later on. We also see that the believers were amazed by the signs and wonders performed by the apostles. Their power that the others did not have. We read of this in acts 2:14-40.

Then we jump ahead to acts 8. We see here that Saul is persecuting snd killing christians. All the believers, except the apostles, scatter from Jerusalem and flee to other parts of the world.

Acts 8:1-3 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

8 Now Saul approved of putting Stephen to death.
And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except for the apostles. 2 Some devout men buried Stephen, and mourned loudly for him. 3 But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house; and he would drag away men and women and put them in prison.

  • In Acts 8:4-24 we read of one of those men who fled was the evangelist Philip. He was not a apostle because they all remained in Jerusalem. He fled to Samaria and begin preforming miracles. The apostles heard about this and sent Peter and John to them so that they may lay their hands on the newly baptized believers so that they may receive the Holy Spirit. That is to receive the power of the spirit. They already received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. One of the men who believed snd was baptized was Simon the Magician and he noticed that the apostles could do something that Philip the evangelist could not and that was the ability that the apostles had to lay on hands giving a spiritual gift to someone. Only they could do this.

Acts 8:16-20 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

16 (For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) 17 Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could acquire the gift of God with money!

We then jump ahead to Acts 16 and the conversion of the persecutor Saul and how he became the apostle Paul. On the way to Damascus Jesus is visited by the ascended Christ and is blinded. He is sent to a disciple who baptizes him into Christ. In Galatians 1 it talks a bit about Paul not talking to any other disciples of flesh and blood for three years. Many believe it’s implied that Jesus visited and taught paul during those three years just like he did with the 12 before the ascension.

Then we begin to see through the epistles Paul emerging as the 14th known apostle and as the 13th living apostle. This is a hyperlink back to the situation of the tribe of Jospeh splitting into 2 tribes, “ Ephraim and Manesseh” with the later being assimilated into the surrounding gentile nations. This ties into the fact of why Paul was an apostle to the gentiles and the 13th apostle. Thus working towards the goal of not only the Jews and Samaritans hearing the gospel but also the gentiles in the ends of the world. This is why it says that we are all one in Christ. It’s not erasing individuality, but is including all men and women, Jews and Gentiles, as sons and daughters of God. Even slaves are given the honor of knowing they two are princes when the Messiah returns and the new Jerusalem “heaven” overlaps with earth.

We can see that Paul is an apostle not only by name , as Peter verified, but also through action. Paul had the power to lay on hands and gift someone with a spiritual power.

1 Timothy 4:14 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

14 Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was granted to you through words of prophecy with the laying on of hands by the council of elders.

*Here many falsely try to say oh see it was the elders, not the apostle Paul who did it. But this is in fact clarified later on that it was Paul’s hands , among the council, that granted this spiritual power to Timothy.

2 Timothy 1:6 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

6 For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.

  • Now finally we come to what begin this counter argument.

Romans 16:7 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsfolk and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding in the view of the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.

  • The confusion over this verse is usually tied to the word, episémos. The phrase is often translated as among the apostles but many begin to confuse that for meaning as an apostle. But it means something else entirely. It means that these two disciples were well known as being outstanding to the apostles themselves. It’s like saying Marilyn Manson and Dani Filth are well known among the goth kids of alabama. It’s not suggesting they are goth kids of Alabama but saying the goth kids of Alabama knows who they are.

So she was never an apostle. Paul was never an elder. He did not meet the qualifications for being one. There is a great difference between being an apostle and being an elder. Two completely different roles with different duties and requirements.

As for the other stuff I’ll have to get to it later. I need to workout. This response alone took a while. I’ll get to the rest another day.

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All other things being equal, I think a married woman has better credentials to be a pastor than a man who has never been married.

And if Deborah could judge all Israel, and if Junia was prominent among the Apostles, then a woman can be a pastor.


Well a unmarried man can’t be a pastor either.

Being a teacher is not the same as being a pastor. Pastors, evangelists, deacons, prophets, teachers, and apostles are all different. It’s not just simply interchangeable terminology.

It may help some in here to do a study on each specific office and role and see what’s all mentioned about them. There is more to these roles than merely being handy with a Bible.

There are single men, divorced men and divorced men who remarried, and married men without kids who could all have been great disciples, well known by the apostles, and intelligent humans and they still would not have been able to be a elder. A teacher or a evangelist sure, but not an elder which is a overseer/pastor.

i would think, then, all the more reason to take Paul’s prohibitions against women teaching very seriously… since we ought not dismiss his words being blindly patriarchal, or simply blindly embracing cultural norms. If he was so quite willing to smash such cultural norms for the sake of the gospel. if he believed and lived such freedom from patriarchal influences, all the more reason I would think one should take his prohibitions all the more seriously as we can’t accuse or dismiss him of simply furthering limited cultural norms. perhaps rather he is claiming an eternal principle that transcends culture, as certainly seems to be his implication given his grounding of his position on the creation order (“Adam was made first, then Eve”).

If, as you accurately note, Paul was not beholden to such cultural patriarchal snobberies, then all the more reason one would think that his limitation of elders to men and his prohibition of women teaching over men is a well-thought and reasoned command, and not a capitulation to cultural snobberies or his own patriarchal blindness.

I think the same applies to Jesus… I have heard Jesus’s choice of 12 men to be his apostles “defended” (or “debunked”?) on the grounds that Jesus was simply capitulating to cultural norms, or that he didn’t make waves, or that he was himself simply blind to the more proper or egalitarian method he should have utilized… as if the record of Jesus’s life portrays someone regularly fearing to rock the cultural boat, or capitulating to the cultural and theological errors of the world around him. Rather, the fact that Jesus regularly smashed the expectations and traditions of his day, including regarding cultural gender roles (as when he had Mary sit at his feet to be taught)… I would think that this should put all the more weight on his choice to select only 12 men to be his apostles.


(And while verse 11 uses female language, femaleness is at best assumed?)

i would dispute this, given that shortly afterwards he addresses a list of requirements to “the women” (alternately translated/interpreted as “wives”) as a distinct category from those he is addressing in the former paragraph(s). Clearly, if he wanted to include the “women” in the preceding paragraphs, he could have done so. maleness is no more assumed in that paragraph than femaleness is being assumed in the succeeding list of requirements addressed to the “women”.

if Paul was trying to only give “culturally-localized advice”, then I go back to accusing him of being one of the world’s worst communicators. Why in the world, if you want people to understand you are giving culturally-localized advice, would you ground your argument in the manner and order in which God made man and woman at the beginning of time??

It honestly concerns me that this line of reasoning is offered as an argument for this or any topic… One could imagine a church where Pepperoni Pizza and Pepsi replaced bread and wine in communion, and it may indeed have been done and been well-received by the congregation… does this similarly put the lie to those who say that such a thing can’t or shouldn’t be done?


But a man married to another is OK, right?

Are you asking me if the Bible teaches that Same sex marriages are recognized by God or are you asking me if adults should have a right to reject gods teachings as not their own and live the life they want?

I believe that the Bible itself teaches a separation of church and state. That it’s anti theocracy and that we don’t have a right to force the world to do what gods ask. So yes two men have a right to be married to one another and live a happy life together. But the Bible definitely does not recognize it. It condemns it.

So scripturally speaking, you never see same sex marriages being held up in good light. Paul would have disfellowshipped two men married to one another.

A gay man married to another man does not meet the requirements laid out for a elder either.

We are probably already pressing too far beyond the prescribed topics Biologos wants to host here in our discussion of women in the pastorate. Let’s not throw in yet more other issues yet too. Discussion of LGBTQ is fine and needs to happen, to be sure, but we can make that a private discussion if you wish to continue on that. As it is, this discussion in its present form already probably ought to be too, but we’re leaving it for now.


If you do one mervin could you add me as well? Im interested in this topic and i would like to hear opinions on that. Thanks

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I’m personally not interested in a private discussion of LGBT unless someone from that community wants to discuss it with me then I’m ok with it.

So what are the off topics for BioLogos? This is not me trying to be snarky either. But I am getting the idea that BioLogos does not want public discussions on things from the perception that the Bible supports gender differences, recognizes two sexes, or heterosexual marriages. If the discussion is that the Bible somehow is not supporting those things and is accepting of things like transgenders, same sex attraction, and that male and female has no differences outside of biology , unless you feel differently and believe that you’re xy or xx than what it is?

Is the scientific focus primarily on scientific concordism verses scientific accommodation within genesis 1-11 and so on? Sometimes I’m not 100% certain if this site is here to discuss strictly theology and science where it overlaps or if it can be science independent of theology and vice versa. It’s why I stopped making threads of my own and just responding to ones created by others. It’s also why initially left the issue of man with man off my post talking about the requirements until it was asked directly.

Perhaps I need to reread through some TOS and BioLogos’s mission statements.

And I’m sure he would spin in his grave to hear you say it. “I used more words and longer sentences than all the others!”, I can hear him insisting. He was probably already paying his scribes overtime, so I doubt he was eager to always be prefacing everything with: “This is just me …” and elsewhere “…but this is from the Lord.” He does do that, as I recall - in one of his letters to the Corinthians. He obviously writes as somebody being free with his opinions with a confidence that “I too, have the Spirit” (as he notes at the end of 1 Corinthians 7). And earlier in the same chapter we read Paul expressing his opinions on marriage - about which he notes: “I say this for your own benefit, not to put any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and unhindered devotion to the Lord.” Paul probably figures his letters are long enough and his scribe’s fingers tired enough without forever putting all these caveats to warn people not to explode everything he suggests into new sets of laws. But make no mistake - he is clear on this and will have none of it as he makes clear in multiple places. Read his especially harsh rebukes in Galatians for those who want to manufacture some new transactional refuge in yet more and more refined sets of law. Paul obviously has no patience with those who keep wanting to push the new covenant back in that direction - to make it more like the “comfortable” and yet impossible old covenant again; to give up the rights as heirs of the free woman and take up enslavement again under Hagar.

So when Paul, quoting no less than God himself, observes in 2 Corinthians 6 (around verse 16) that we are God’s temple, and that we are to ‘come out from them’, ‘be separate from them’, and ‘touch nothing unclean; then I will welcome you.’ … all of that couldn’t be more clear, right? Indeed separatist groups such as the Amish have taken such passages very seriously indeed. But the same Paul writes to the Colossians (starting at 2:20)

If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you still submit to regulations, ‘Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch’? All these regulations refer to things that perish with use; they are simply human commands and teachings.

and a bit further on in the same letter Paul continues to admonish us to “set our minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth…” Paul’s exasperation shines through particularly with the Galatians with whom he does not mince words …“I am perplexed about you!” … why are you trading in your freedom as sons of Sarah (children of the promise) for the old enslavement under Hagar (the law)? Paul is reduced to nearly cursing and cussing over those who want to flee back to law (and take others with them.)

And of course in Romans he also anticipates how there will always still be the temptation too to turn such freedom into license. So it is instructive to read all of Paul to see how he handles such things. On the one hand, in Galatians (ch. 2) Paul can approvingly boast that “not even Titus the Greek was compelled to be circumcised”, and yet we also hear of this same Paul meekly submitting to the council later when he comes to Jerusalem (Acts 21), and follows James’ compulsion to take four other men along with himself and complete the rites of purification … “so that they will know that you yourself observe and guard the law.” Although we know from reading Paul elsewhere that actually this is most definitely not where Paul’s heart is, yet Paul is willing to be strategic about when and where he causes offense. Like Christ, who pays the temple tax that he knows he should technically be exempted from, Paul doesn’t just cause offense for its own sake but observes laws strategically for the ultimate purpose of advancing Christ. And I think we are hard pressed to find a better model than Paul to follow in all this. The legalists (Judaizers) were right to be concerned about Paul’s attitude because they suspected that Paul was no longer in their camp (despite James’ wish to appease them for the moment). And they were right. Paul has no patience for their old, law-bound ways of thinking any more, as he makes abundantly clear in so many of his letters. “Been there, done that”, Paul says. It doesn’t work.

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You know this how?

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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