Women Called to Preach

I have never had any doubts that women as well as men are called to preach. I do not believe God would hinder His Word from being preached throughout the world due to the person’s gender. I have found Scripture that confirms what I believe; however, it was a great privilege to have C.S. Cowles as one of my college professors at Indiana Wesleyan University. Cowles literally wrote the book of women in ministry and he says, “When it comes to the ministerial role of women, attention immediately focuses upon two texts where Paul explicitly forbids women to “speak” or “teach” in the church (I Cor. 14:34-35; I Tim. 2:11-15). Lionized by traditionalists and maligned by feminists, Paul himself gets lost behind a barrage of claims and counterclaims. These texts are believed by many to represent the sum total of Paul’s view of women’s role in the church.” (Cowles, 1993).

When I read the Scripture, “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet” (1 Timothy 2:12, NASB); it is quite hard to think Paul is saying anything other than women are not to be preachers or leaders over a man. I completely understand that anyone who reads this text can form a quick firm opinion of what Paul is saying. It truly appears that Paul is against women in general and that he wants them to know that their place is never to be higher than that of a man. Fortunately, we do not or at least should not make such a determination about a text without doing additional research on the topic. First, Jesus not only befriended women, but also placed them on the frontline of the ministry.

In the resurrection story, Jesus reveals Himself first to the women, rather than men.Second, the angels deliver the Good News to the women and they were commissioned to spread the Good News to the men, “Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you” (Matthew 28:19, NASB). The very first announcement of the resurrection was delivered by women in a society that would not have considered a woman worthy of such an honor. If Jesus had a problem with women delivering the Gospel, I think He would have made that point here.Third, Peter had an issue with spreading the Gospel to the Gentiles, he believed that God forbid it. Peter had a dream and God says, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” (Acts 10: 16, NASB). Who are we to deny the calling of who God has called? Peter did not believe that the Gospel was meant for the Gentiles, but God revealed that Peter was mistaken. I believe that people who deny the calling of women to preach may be in the same situation as Peter was with the Gentiles. God does not need our approval of whom He calls.

Cowles (1993) provides evidence that Paul’s statements here do not seem to be that of a general statute, but possibly more of a specific one. Paul may have clearly been speaking to specific situations within the community, but it was not intended to be taken as a general statute for all situations. As Cowles pointed out, Paul spoke highly of women in leadership roles outside of this specific text; concluding that Paul was addressing specific conditions in his remarks.This brings to light that women are not being restrained from preaching or doing any other service that God calls them to do; in fact, Paul request the others to assist the women in their ministry. “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea…” (Romans 16:1, NASB). The Greek word for servant is diakonos which has a masculine and feminine use. The use in regards to the Phoebe was the masculine purposely placing a woman in the place of authority (Cowles, 1993). If Paul truly meant that no woman is to have authority over a man; why would he have used such a term to place a woman in authority? Why would Paul say that women should be silent yet, also say that people are to assist Phoebe as the minister of the church in Cenchrea? Throughout Paul’s writings, he gives credit to many women in the ministry who very well could be ministers such as Phoebe. No matter if they are ministers or not, they are teaching men which proves that Paul was not saying that women everywhere are to keep silent.

References: A Woman’s Place? Leadership in the Church (1993), by C. S. Cowles