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Here we go again. Theologian John Piper stirred up a hornet’s nest by arguing women are not to teach men. Piper points to 1 Timothy 2:12 that churches should be led by a team of spiritual, humble, biblically qualified men.

“If it is unbiblical to have women as pastors, how can it be biblical to have women who function in formal teaching and mentoring capacities to train and fit pastors for the very calling from which the mentors themselves are excluded?” Piper writes.
Yes, 1 Timothy 2:12-13 says women should not teach or assume authority over a man. Others point to 1 Timothy 3, which lists the qualifications for bishops and deacons as reasons not to allow women in ministry. But what do we do, then, with Deborah, a prophetess and a judge who led Israel into victorious battle when a man would not take charge? What about
Anna the prophetess? What about Priscilla, who traveled in ministry with her husband?

Look at Aimee Semple McPherson. What about Kathryn Kuhlman? How about Marilyn Hickey and Joyce Meyer? All of these women have been a blessing to the body of Christ, and they have all faced persecution from people who don’t agree that they should speak and teach. Jesus certainly didn’t prevent women from entering ministry so I am unsure as to why there is so much resistance in some camps within the modern church.

I would like to end the heated debate over women in ministry. There are too many examples in Scripture of women serving in leadership or other key roles for men to deny women a seat at the leadership table. That said, I’m not calling for affirmative action here. Church roles should be assigned by the Holy Spirit. That means leadership needs to pray and fast without preconceived notions—and without bias toward women—before they appoint people to positions.

Paul wrote, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to everyone for the common good. To one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But that one and very same Spirit works all these, dividing to each one individually as He will” (1 Cor. 12:7-11).

Paul didn’t say women can’t operate in spiritual gifts and I don’t believe Paul intended for women to be denied opportunities to serve in various ministries, even leadership positions, within the church. I think locking women out of ministry can actually work against God at times. God is the one who calls people into ministry—men and women. If we were all obedient to the Holy Spirit in this matter, there would be much less strife and much more effectiveness in ministry for the glory of God.
It’s going to take all of us laboring together to turn around our nation. Can we quit attacking women who are trying to do what God has called them to do?
Jennifer LeClaire former editor of Charisma magazine, senior leader of Awakening House of Prayer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, founder of the Ignite Network and founder of the Awakening Blaze prayer movement. She is author of over 25 books. Find her online at jenniferleclaire.org or email her at info@jenniferleclaire.org.

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24 Comments

  1. Rob Van't Wout

    The hardest part of this whole discussion is that it draws us into a distracting conversation where the “theologian” is best in his arguments. We move on, we neglect as the he is disqualifying himself and looses the authority in teaching. It’s the wrong tree since “good and evil” are fruits of the same tree!
    Blessings dear Jennifer and keep sharing and… edifying the Body of Christ!

    Reply
  2. Ken Worley

    I have have a problem with Piper’s teaching on the subject of women. He is not biblically based and his arguments have holes in them. I am extremely shocked that women buy into his teaching.
    As a male I don’t like what he has to say about women because he is talking about my wife, my mother, my granddaughters, my cousins, and many of my long standing friends and sisters in Christ.
    One question I would like to ask him is “was Deborah less of a Judge”? What does the Bible mean when it says your sons and daughters shall prophecy?

    Reply
    • Lemmy

      You should not like what the Bible says as in the NT and not what John says. It’s scripture he’s quoting. Remember salvation has nothing to do with IT doctrines. Jesus is the end of the law. Your feelings has nothing to do with God’s word. So if the NT says women shouldn’t teach or speak in public, that settles it. Your emotions and feelings are not God’s word. By scripture, the truth is, WE ARE LIVING IN THE AGE OF DISOBEDIENCE PERIOD.

      Reply
      • Anita Watson

        The Bible does not say that Jesus “ended” the law… It says that He fulfilled it … It does not mean the same thing.
        Fulfilled means completed the requirements to satisfy.

        Reply
    • Jeff

      Seriously? You would say that John Piper is not biblically-based? There may be other valid criticisms of Piper, but I don’t see how anyone could claim he is not radically biblical in his approach with a straight face. In the book that he wrote with Wayne Grudem, Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, she and freedoms out in great detail the biblical and real-life uniqueness is and differences between men and women, particularly as they relate to our respective roles in the church, in marriage, in the work setting and elsewhere. My opinion here is that women clearly have a role and spiritual gifts for the service to the church and for the glory of God. However, I think Scripture is consistent and clear in making a distinction in the respective roles of men and women based on how they were created and how God ordained his creation to function, most importantly at the level of the supreme created beings–human beings who were made in his image and to operate in the creation as partners with him. I do believe that clearly women have spiritual gifts and assignments and important work to do in the context of the church and the world, but as a general rule I believe is contrary to God’s design of humanity and the clear teaching of Scripture to support a model in which women are exercising authority over men in general and in the church and marriage in particular. As Piper and Grudem say in their book, to have that kind of arrangement in either setting, and arguably even in the workplace setting, is to “strain the humanity” of both sexes. So I am firmly with Scripture and with Piper in this regard, as long as he is NOT excluding the possibility of women doing any teaching or writing or prophesying or healing in the context of the church. I believe the issue has to do with overall leadership and stewardship, not with the expression and application of any and all spiritual gifts by women for the benefit of, and in the context of, the church.

      Reply
  3. Rev. Elizabeth Lopez

    It’s amazing how some people twist the scriptures. I have been preaching and ministering the word of God also teaching for 40 years and the the Lord never told me that he did not call me for that. Many souls have come to the Lord I have seen great miracles and great things for the honor and glory of Jesus Christ. How can they say that God does not use women. I see it over and over again. Praise the Lord ladies continue doing what God has called you to do Amen!!!! all honor and glory goes to Jesus Christ.Amen

    Reply
  4. Al Thompson

    Hi Jennifer,
    The part that I have real problems with is the reason St Paul gave. It was:

    13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.

    it was not a social issue. I’m am stuck on that. How can we say it means anything else? I am frustrated be the reason but have decided to just be obedient.

    Al

    Reply
    • El McMeen

      That was a problem for me, too, theologically, but Kris Vallotton’s book “Fashioned to Reign” really helped me regarding the contexts for Paul’s various statements on women in the ministry.

      Reply
    • Dr. Randall Lawrence

      Do you enforce “no braids, gold, pearls, costly clothing” too?!?

      How do you reconcile this with Romans 16, Galatians 3, Acts 2, John 4, John 20?!?

      Maybe empowerment of women beyond cultural/society norms by Jesus supersedes certain specific /contextual teachings by Paul.

      Reply
    • Shana

      Hi
      I’m not Jennifer but I do have a response to this :).
      If you haven’t read Cindy Jacob’s book “Women of Destiny”,
      I highly recommend it because she lists a lot of arguements against those who think like Piper.

      One great truth I learned from her book is that we must pay attention to the context of the Scriptures. Many things won’t make sense in the Bible unless you know the background. Of course as the word of God, the Bible contains timeless truths that apply to ANYBODY, anywhere;however, knowing the context will help us clarify and rightly apply what we read today.

      The issue you bring up is one of cultural context. At the time Paul wrote this to Timothy, in the city of Ephesus, people worshipped the goddess Artemis, who they believed was the mother of all gods. These teaching infiltrated the church and influenced a line of thought that Eve was the one created first and that she was to be honored and exalted. Paul in his letter to Timothy clearly refutes this teaching. He also gives us general truth. Adam was created first; he does have authority over Eve as her husband in order to reflect how God has authority over his people.
      Now someone may say “well that still doesn’t change the fact that Paul said he doesn’t let a woman teach over and have authority over a man.”
      But consider this. The Greek word Paul uses for man and woman can also mean husband and wife.. Might Paul actually be reinforcing the marriage order rather than stating a doctrine that bars women from teaching in the ministry?
      I think so.
      Afterall , Peter said “Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands ” 1 Peter 3:1
      Emphasis on the “own”.Women DO NOT have to submit to all men, which means women can have authority over any man who isn’t her husband. Even in the case of her husband, however , she is not bound. . Wives are to submit to our HUSBANDS as onto the Lord. So if the man is submitted to God , he then has authority to lead us. His leadership is not domineering, but one that SERVES AND HONORS his wife. For Jesus a leader is to be a SERVANT. And of course, the wife respects and honors her husband because leaders should be honored.

      Therefore I believe Paul is not telling women they can’t be pastors in 1 Timothy. Rather he is reinforcing teaching on marriage that runs throughout the Bible.
      It goes along with other things he has said about husband and wives “If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home “1 Corinthians 14:35 (Even in this passage context must be considered because again, the women in Paul’s day were uneducated and constantly interrupted the service with their questions. To instill order Paul commanded them to be silent in the church and ask their husbands at home. We don’t have this problem today(Women are educated and aren’t interrupting with questions) so logically, if the problem has gone, women are free to speak in the church ) This is reinforced by the idea of Paul allowing women to prophesy in the church (1 Corinthians 11) It also explains why we have all those examples of women serving in ministry that Jennifer provides for us.

      Overall, we must careful with God’s word. I believe Piper means well but he is under a religious spirit. He has zeal without spirit empowered knowledge–we must extend grace to him but firmly reject his teaching. We must always look for the HEART of what God meant or we’ll fall into the letter of the law which kills.
      “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17

      Women are free to teach and speak through the power of the Holy Spirit. The authority of the Holy Spirit trumps all human authority.

      Reply
    • Heather Duzan

      Because the curse of the garden was broken at the cross. Those who go trust Jesus for their lives are all perfected spiritually because as you know Jesus died and took on all our sin at the Cross. This Eve was deceived business is ridiculous. However true Adam failed by not guiding his wife – had he refused the Apple sin would have never entered the world. The world has suffered because women were left out of the conversation. I propose to you had “her” perspective been heard churches would have orphanages, soup kitchens and beds for the homeless next to the big fancy stages where the Gospel is talked about but not acted on.

      Reply
    • Ian Pomeroy

      Al, I believe that ‘Why not women; By Loren Cunningham and David Joel Hamilton with Janice Rogers would answer this complex question. I have looked in my copy and could not immediately find it. I looked at notes I made from that teaching. Adam knew he should not have eaten the fruit He chose to sin – Eve was deceived. How well had he taught her? Therefore it was easy to deceive her. Then he takes no responsibility for his sin but blames God and Eve – ‘It was the woman You gave me’ that did it – It is said much better in the book

      Reply
  5. Darlenn Wilson

    I agree and have much resistance from men in my family especially my husband concerning this subject. I am an elder in my church. My husband has told me not to return back to our home after i had a ministry engagement on a cruise in Oct. 2017. I am asked to give up ministry and join him at his church because God does not call women to teach nor preach to men. I am persuaded in the call of God on my life and my Pastors are too. Determined to do His will fully and effectively. Blessings, Elder Darlenn Wilson

    Reply
  6. Father Frank

    When Jesus spoke of ‘binding and loosing’ He was using technical terms from synagoguical Judaism.

    Because Judaism was practiced in many different societies and cultures, individual synagogues had great latitude in practice, ‘binding’ rules of order, or ‘loosing’ them, rather than behaving or worshipping in ways which might be unneccessarily offensive in that particular cultural mileau.

    Evidently Jesus gave such latitude to churches as well.

    There are some kinds of churches (mainly sacramental and liturgical) where ordaining women has had disastrous effects.

    In Pentecostal/Charismatic churches, women have functioned quite well.

    Reply
  7. Tangi K. Combs

    I dont think that I want to be included at a table that man has errorneously set up in the Name of Jesus! Women have always been leaders from the beginning we were given dominion with men and the last scripture of theses verses says and God saw what He had made and it was very GOOD! Gen 1:26-31. Leave them at the erroroneous table…its time to Advance the Kingdom!

    Reply
  8. Randall Lawrence

    Maria Woodworth-Etter, Phoebe Palmer, Catherine Booth

    Looking at 1 Timothy 2:8-15: couple of issues. First, if we are going to follow it, we should “police” women for “braided hair, gold, pearls, costly clothing! If we enforce the one, why don’t we enforce the others?!?

    Second, did Paul have authority over whole church?!? Not in Acts 15. In issue of circumcision, church was led by James, earthly brother of Jesus not Peter & Paul plus apostles & elders.

    John 4 has Samaritan woman at well as Gospel evangelist (preaching/teaching)–getting whole city for Jesus.

    *** Romans 16 Phoebe, Priscilla, Junia (+ others?) stand as “apostles”/gospel workers. These females did not teach or share with men?!? Doubtful. So how do we reconcile Timothy with Romans, or with Corinthians, or Galatians?!? This is problem of making one passage (or a couple) ABSOLUTE despite context, despite other books & passages in contrast!!!

    See “Women’s Rights in Gospel” by Woodworth-Etter!!!!

    Reply
  9. Volker Fleischhauer

    Pastors leading a Church is as unbiblical as saying women should not teach or lead.It`s always about the Power over others behind this Views. In most of our Churches is Jesus not the Head. But the Pastor and don`t dare to touch him.

    Reply
    • Sue A (appointed watchman)

      You are right in your comment, I believe that is at the root of the issue. Traditions of men have blinded them from scriptural truth as to how the church is to operate in the Spirit under Christs headship. No one is excluded if led by the spirit, being a new creation in Christ Jesus. The old man (women) has passed away and we are made new. No male or female ect. This has been a way the enemy has tried to subdue the effectiveness of the church.

      Eph. 4:7 But to every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
      8 Why he said, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.
      9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: 14 That we from now on be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, makes increase of the body to the edifying of itself in love.

      Reply
  10. Lyndy

    The whole argument/debate is made mute by Galatians 3:28. I really don’t know why this issue keeps popping up. If God anoints, who is man to judge Him anyway?

    Reply
  11. JODI MILLETT

    The sad thing is that John Piper is called a Theologian. Of he was really a Theologian in the true sense of the word he would know that very scripture he likes to quote was Paul talking about A (single, one) woman not every woman. There have been in-depth studies on this subject by true Theologians, Teacher’s and Bible Scholars that fully explain the situations, culture and even the way Paul spoke in. Plus going back to the original Aramaic language which was the dialect of Jesus and the Disciples you would find the meanings very different to the western translations. Also there are the cultural issues where translators changed the named of women to sound like men plus they left out the name of the writer of Hebrews, Why? Because it was a woman. The written form was not even the same as Paul’s way of writing.
    There are some great books on this subject and articles on google by true truth, fact seekers (theologians, bible scholars, teachers).
    “Why Not Women” by Loren Cunningham (YWAM leader) and David Hamilton (bible scholar) is one book that is very in-depth.
    Brian Simmons (the Passion translation) has discovered thru his interpreting the bible in Aramaic, Greek and Hebrew has discovered many false teachings and beliefs that have been around about scripture for way too long.
    P.S. unfortunately there are far too many abusive, controlling men that take these scriptures and use them in a way God never intended.

    Reply
  12. Alan Thompson

    Hi Darlenn,
    greeting from Dunedin New Zealand! I suppose what I’m asking is how do we actually exegete V13&14? The reason is not a social reason or cultural issue. It’s because Eve was made second and was deceived. It seems incredible to me that all woman are judged from that.

    Alan

    Reply
  13. Katrina McEown

    One verse of scripture should never be taken alone but must be kept in context and fitted with every other thing in Scripture. When we first look at 1st Timothy 2:11-13 it would seem to contradict 1st Corinthians 11:5 where Paul says a woman is to cover her head while prophesying (and before we start a whole different issue verse 15 states her hair is her covering), as well as Philip’s daughters being prophets, etc. etc.So we know there has to be something deeper here.So let’s dig. The Greek word translated as woman (note the singular context) is most often translated “wife” as there is another word for women in general. The same goes for the word for man (also singular) is usually translated “husband” elsewhere in Scripture.The Greek word translated as “in silence” can mean ‘in quietness’ as it is so translated in 2nd Thessalonians 3:12. In the culture Paul was addressing the women were not educated and some Rabbi’s actually taught it was more shameful to educate your daughter in the Torah than it was to have her in prostitution. It was a very radical thing for Jesus to allow women to call Him rabbi/teacher.So Paul is telling husbands to allow their women to learn in peace. Verse 12 goes on to essentially say that now that the women are allowed to be taught “religion” that does not allow a wife to usurp a husband’s authority in the home. The word ‘teach’ in verse 12 is “didasko” It is not just instruction. It is daio or dao which is to teach and dasko which carries with it the calculation to influence the understanding of the person who is taught. So the wife, though Paul was telling the husbands, was free to learn and they had to let her learn in peace, he was also instructing the wives their freedom did not allow them to manipulate what their husbands were learning and to usurp their authority as leaders in the home. It is interesting the word translated as authority is not the Greek “exousia” elsewhere translated correctly as authority but rather a word found no where else in Scripture. The word here is “authentein or authenteo. In other classical Greek writing an authentes was an autocrat, a person who ruled with absolute sway.

    Reply
  14. Ian Pomeroy

    I do not always agree with Jennifer, However, In common with many men I did indeed think that women were not allowed to be pastors or leaders. I used to think that a simple literal reading of the scripture was sufficient – however Paul is a very clear and great teacher yet the single verse about ‘a’ woman must be put in context with the book and how Jesus treated women.

    Yet I have come to understand more about the character and nature of our Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth as the years have passed. My wife and I know how utterly dependent we are upon Him for everything and He is gradually changing us from one degree of glory to another – you must know that He loves us too much to allow us to remain as we are!.

    I do believe a critical key in all discussions about male/female positions is Genesis where we see the fall and man blamed his woman rather than take the responsibility and apologise profusely. Subsequently women were marginalised for thousands of years and we see this continue in ‘religions’ where she is a second class person or even an object not worthy of any comparison to man. Yet she was created to help a man who could not cope.!!

    Many of the texts used to support a man’s higher position are indeed gender neutral for example 1 Corinthians 11 and chapter 14 20 onwards. Both men and women were prophesying and speaking in tongues. This block of scripture was about the correct use of gifts when in meetings. The context of v 34 which you quoted is towards some women who were bringing confusion. The context of v 38 says if ”anyone” … means all as does the use of ‘brethren”

    I looked for years for some teaching that would help me deal with other problems such as Paul seemingly say ‘The women are to keep silent…’ Knowing that Paul and Jesus had women in ministry working alongside them tells me there is something missing from the translation – and it is a little greek word ‘eeh’ and the closest translation is What! or Nonsense! In 1 Corinthians alone it is missing 49 times!

    Thus I feel that it essential to know Jesus so much better for it is not possible that he wanted 50% of His creation to be marginalised. Please try ‘Why Not Women’ by Loren Cunningham and David Hamilton for a much better explanation.

    Reply
  15. Rich

    Many consider as I do that the Moody Bible Institute is almost like the gold standard in Bible interpretation. (I know, some might disagree but). Within their doctrinal statements is their topic of “Gender Roles in Ministry.” It quotes most of the verses within the comments here plus a few more in Genesis, 1 Peter, Revelation, Titus. A summary statement may be:
    “Moody distinguishes between ministry function and church office. … Moody understands that the biblical office of Elder/Pastor in the early church was gender specific. Therefore, it maintains that it is consistent with that understanding of Scripture that those church offices should be limited to the male gender.”
    That is for me the final interpretation.

    Reply

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