While some have suggested that the New Testament writers were unkind to women, the simple fact is that for that time in history the New Testament situations involving women tended to elevate them to a higher level than the Jewish and non-Jewish societies of that time did.
Women were highly involved in Christ’s ministry as well as the ministry of the early church. One writer wrote this about women in the New Testament:
...that women travelled (sic) with and helped support Jesus and the disciples, that women, not men, were the last at Jesus’ cross and the first at his tomb, that Paul in various letters greeted women as co-workers. Women who wholeheartedly dedicated their lives to such religious activities received extravagant accolades from the post-New Testament writers (Clark, Elizabeth. Women in the Early Church. The Liturgical Press, Collegeville (MN), 1983, p. 17).
This brief paper will not cover everything about women and the New Testament Church.
It shows that the New Testament writers recorded that women were not to be treated according to rabbinical traditions.
It will also go over roles, responsibilities, and even opportunities Christian woman have.
Plus is shows that many women were praised and encouraged for their contributions to Christianity. (Here are links to two related sermons: Women's Roles in the Church and New Testament Women.)
Before getting to the New Testament, let's start off in the Book of Genesis:
27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:27, NKJV throughout except as otherwise noted)
One would not conclude from the above that women were created inferior to men. Nor would one conclude that from the following:
21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. (Genesis 2:21-22)
Being taken from Adam's rib shows that the woman was made of the same materials as the man and that she was not inferior to him.
Despite this, in ancient Israel, one of the three routine declarations Jewish men made in the synagogue or their morning prayers was, “Thank God I am not a woman.”
Furthermore, in a rabbinic exposition of Jewish law, there were written these words:
A man should ever avoid women; thus he should never make any gestures at them, either with his hands or his feet, nor wink at them, nor jest with them . . .
A man must not greet a woman under any circumstances, and he is forbidden to send his regards to her even through her husband” (Ganzfried S. Translated by Hyman Goldin. Code of Jewish Law. Volume IV, Chapter 152, Verses 8,9, Hebrew Publishing Company, NY, 2004, p. 20).
Yet these “laws” were not found in the Bible, but were often generally understood improper traditions of men at the time of Christ.
Some of the Jewish leaders saw limited good in women:
Rabbi Hiya taught: A woman is only for beauty, or only for the sake of the children she will bear. (Gemara as cited in The Babylonian Talmud in Selection, by Leo Auerbach, , pp. 164-165. http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/bata/bata10.htm viewed 08/15/13)
But women are more valuable than simply being beautiful objects to bear children.
The Bible says that Jesus was without sin (Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22), and it often showed that He refused to take part in various added laws of Jewish tradition (Mark 7:5-13).
And this included the Jewish traditions involving women.
Notice John 4:7-19:
7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give Me a drink." 8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.
9 Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?" For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.
In the above account, Jesus violated two non-biblical Jewish traditions at the same time: He greets a woman and has interactions with a foreigner. And even this foreign woman knew that this was not the usual practice of the Jews.
Jesus even went a step further and started to talk with her about issues relating to religion and salvation. Hence, He considered that women were as deserving and capable as men in the area. And while that may seem to be self-evident, this does not seem to have been the usual practice amongst Jewish religious leaders of His day.
Furthermore, that woman, a foreigner, realized that Jesus was the Messiah before many men did:
10 Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water."
11 The woman said to Him, "Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? 12 Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?"
13 Jesus answered and said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life."
15 The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw."
16 Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here."
17 The woman answered and said, "I have no husband."
Jesus said to her, "You have well said, 'I have no husband,' 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly."
19 The woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship."
21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
25 The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When He comes, He will tell us all things."
26 Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He." (John 4:10-26)
That woman gave testimony of Jesus that others believed:
39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, "He told me all that I ever did."
40 So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of His own word. (John 4:39-41)
So a foreign woman, and other foreigners, who had some familiarity with the scriptures, believed.
Notice that Jesus had to teach something to the Sadducees, who tended to be priests, that they had not grasped. He corrected their poor doctrinal understanding:
23 The same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him and asked Him, 24 saying: "Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. 25 Now there were with us seven brothers. The first died after he had married, and having no offspring, left his wife to his brother. 26 Likewise the second also, and the third, even to the seventh. 27 Last of all the woman died also. 28 Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her."
29 Jesus answered and said to them, "You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven. 31 But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, 32 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." (Matthew 22:23-32)
Thus, many people were surprised that Jesus did NOT relegate a resurrected woman to be inferior to any man. This was a radical departure from the non-biblical traditions that they held.
Women have the same spiritual potential as men.
Those who do not recognize this do not know "the Scriptures nor the power of God."
The Book of Luke starts off by discussing two encounters with the angel Gabriel.
The first was with a man who was also a priest:
5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years. 8 So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. 10 And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense.
11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, 'to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,' and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
18 And Zacharias said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years."
19 And the angel answered and said to him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings. 20 But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time." (Luke 1:5-21).
Notice that even though he and his wife Elizabeth were both righteous before God, he was made mute for a time because he did not believe the angel Gabriel.
On the other hand, Gabriel also visited someone else. A young woman named Mary:
26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary.
28 And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!" 29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end."
34 Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I do not know a man?"
35 And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible."
38 Then Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her (Luke 1:26-38).
Notice that even though this could cause Mary to become a social outcast, that she, unlike the male priest Zacharias, believed what the angel Gabriel said.
Furthermore, immediately after this, Mary met with the wife of Zacharias:
39 Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, 40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord" (Luke 1:39-45).
Notice that Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and said that Mary was blessed because she believed.
Mary, by the way, did not only just believe at that time. According to traditions, she believed until she died apparently in Ephesus (some say Jerusalem) many decades after the visit from Gabriel (you can access photos of what is claimed to have been the site of Mary's last house at Photos of Ephesus).
(It should be understood, however, that devotion to Mary is NOT part of the Bible, and according to The Catholic Encyclopedia, "we do not meet with any clear traces of the cultus of the Blessed Virgin in the first Christian centuries." In other words the devotion to Mary now seen in Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches was not an original belief or practice of the Christian church. More on Mary can be found in the article Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Apparitions.)
Shortly after Jesus was born, His family visited the Temple that contained a very important woman. Notice:
36 Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; 37 and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38 And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem. (Luke 2:36-38)
Here is something that the old Radio Church of God published related to that as well as something else:
Anna, well up in years, has become an example of how to serve God. This is an example of a very old lady. With all her heart and might she wanted to SERVE God.
She was not able to go out into the cold and rain to serve the brethren in times of sickness or need. She probably could no longer knit or sew for those who needed clothing. The greatest service she could render God's Church and His people was PRAYER and FASTING! She did not feel left out or incapable of serving. And by fasting often, along with her prayers, she became an EXAMPLE for all generations to come.
Many widows begin to feel they cannot serve effectively because they do not have large incomes and cannot send in large amounts in tithes and offerings. But have you ever stopped to think that by your PRAYERS God can and will provide Co-Workers who can send in large amounts in tithes and offerings? Ask God specifically to provide tithe-payers who are able to send in one hundred dollars or even one thousand dollars a month. Mr. Armstrong really means it when he asks you to pray for the NEEDS of the Work, as well as to contribute what you are able.
The Widow's Mite
Another example God gives us in His Word is the poor widow Mark writes about in Mark 12:41. Here is a prime example of ATTITUDE and service: "And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living."
This widow had her heart so much in God's Work that she was willing to sacrifice and go without so she could be a part of the very WORK OF GOD. A widow is not capable, generally, of paying large tithes and giving offerings. But when a widow does give of her need, it is pleasing to God and there will be blessings and reward for this kind of serving, humble attitude.
Never underestimate the POWER and the MIGHT which God has. He is able to take the smallest offering and accomplish the greatest possible amount of work through it. (Kelly R. What Can a Widow Do In God's Church? Good News, April 1964)
Perhaps it should be mentioned that Jesus' ministry, in fact, was highly financed by women. Notice this account from Luke:
1 Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him, 2 and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities--Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, 3 and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance (Luke 8:1-3).
36 Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee's house, and sat down to eat. 37 And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, 38 and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil.
39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, "This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner."
40 And Jesus answered and said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you."
So he said, "Teacher, say it."
41 "There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?"
43 Simon answered and said, "I suppose the one whom he forgave more."
And He said to him, "You have rightly judged." 44 Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little."
48 Then He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."
49 And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"
50 Then He said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace." (Luke 7:36-50)
The Pharisee (male) did not observe social norms, the sinner woman did. And she was forgiven, yet it never says that the Pharisee was.
Sometimes, women (and men) can have the wrong priorities:
38 Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word.
40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me."
41 And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:38-42)
Paying attention to the word of God was more important to God for a woman to do then meal preparation/housework. But even believing women (like Martha) have problems understanding that at times.
Jesus also healed a woman on the Sabbath:
10 Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. 12 But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, "Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity." 13 And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.
14 But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, "There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day."
15 The Lord then answered him and said, "Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? 16 So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound — think of it — for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?" 17 And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him. (Luke 13:10-17)
Jesus put the religious leaders to shame by suggesting that they treat animals better than women, who were also children of Abraham.
Women have unique abilities and insights.
6 And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, 7 a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table. 8 But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, "Why this waste? 9 For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor."
10 But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, "Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. 11 For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always. 12 For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. 13 Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her." (Matthew 26:6-13)
Notice that whereever the gospel was proclaimed, the woman who had the insight to anoint Jesus for burial would be commended (and this prophecy from Jesus was fulfilled--to see more, see also the free online book: Proof Jesus is the Messiah).
The male apostles who should have known better that Jesus was about to die, not only did not anoint Him, instead they criticized a woman who did the right thing. Something to think about.
Women played many unique and critical roles in the New Testament church.
Who were the first people to see Jesus after His resurrection?
Was it His disciples?
No, it was a woman. Mary Magdalene.
11 But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13 Then they said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?"
She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him." 14 Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.
15 Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?"
She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, "Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away."
16 Jesus said to her, "Mary!"
She turned and said to Him, "Rabboni!" (which is to say, Teacher).
17 Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.'"
18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her. (John 20:11-18).
So not only was it a woman who first saw Jesus after His resurrection, it was a woman who had to tell the disciples Jesus was risen. It was a woman who had the bravery needed at this time.
After Jesus ascended to heaven (Acts 1:9), the apostles returned to Jerusalem:
12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey. 13 And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. 14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. (Acts 1:12-14)
Women were waiting and praying with the apostles.
And more women became Christian believers:
14 And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, (Acts 5:14)
Women who professed Christ were also often persecuted in New Testament times:
3 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison (Acts 8:3).
Being a Christian woman was no protection, as Christian women along, with Christian men, were subject to imprisonment and other punishments (see also Acts 9:2; see also Persecutions by Church and State).
Women were encouraged to be part of the Christian Church as much as men were.
They were taught the good news of the Kingdom of God and were baptized upon conversion as the Book of Acts shows:
12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized (Acts 8:12).
Women were baptized as they accepted truth about Jesus and the Kingdom of God.
Some women in the New Testament Church were ordained as deaconesses, but this is not always clear in various translations of Greek into English.
For example, Romans 16:1-2 states:
1 I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, 2 that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also.
The word translated as servant, Strong's #1249, is diakonon. It essentially means deacon/servant/helper as the following help point out:
1 Now I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess in the church at Cenchrea. (Romans 16:1, ISV)
diakonos (dee-ak'-on-os); probably from an obsolete diako (to run on errands; compare NT:1377); an attendant, i.e. (genitive case) a waiter (at table or in other menial duties); specially, a Christian teacher and pastor (technically, a deacon or deaconess):
KJV - deacon, minister, servant. (Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.).
Romans 16:1 Servant.--Rather, a deaconess, keeping the technical term. Deacons were originally appointed to attend to the wants of the poorer members of the Church. This is the first mention of women-deacons, in regard to whom instructions are given to Timothy (1Timothy 3:11). (Elliot's Commentary for English Readers)
Elderly women also helped in physical needs. Paul wrote to the saints at Rome: "I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant [the original word means HELPER or DEACONESS]... that ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she has been a succorer of many, and of myself also" (Rom. 16:1). (Hoeh H. GOVERNMENT in Our Church. Good News, June-July 1958)
The same word is most frequently translated as minister in the New Testament and tends to mean one ordained to serve.
Hence, this was position of deaconess was a role for some women in the New Testament church.
Some have thought that Tabitha, mentioned in Acts 9:36-41, was a deaconess of the Church (e.g. Pulpit Commentary and Good News magazine, February 1982). She may have been.
Notice also the following:
8 Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not being given to much wine, not greedy of dishonest gain, 9 holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And these also, let them be tested first; then let them serve, being blameless. 11 Women likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, clear-minded, faithful in all things. (1 Timothy 3:8-11, Berean Literal Bible)
8 Similarly, deacons must be respectable, not double-tongued, moderate in the amount of wine they drink and with no squalid greed for money. 9 They must hold to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They are first to be examined, and admitted to serve as deacons only if there is nothing against them. 11 Similarly, women must be respectable, not gossips, but sober and wholly reliable. (1 Timothy 3:8-11, New Jerusalem Bible)
Some believe that verse 11 is related to how deaconesses should act (note: verse 11 does NOT literally say "their wives" like the NKJV/KJV translates this passage). While deaconesses should act that way, so should all women.
Anyway, since there was no similar comment related to pastors'/bishops' wives earlier in 1 Timothy 3, this is another reason some feel that these were specific criteria for female deacons.
Notice also the following on 1 Timothy 3:11 from the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary:
11 "the women," that is, the deaconesses. For there is no reason that special rules should be laid down as to the wives of the deacons, and not also as to the wives of the bishops or overseers. Moreover, if the wives of the deacons were meant, there seems no reason for the omission of "their" (not in the Greek). Also the Greek for "even so" (the same as for "likewise," 1Ti 3:8, and "in like manner," 1Ti 2:9), denotes a transition to another class of persons.
The Greek, thus, supports the view that there were deaconesses. And in addition to being able to help, they had to have proper character.
Peter reported that both men and women in the early New Testament church were to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit including prophecy. Luke reports:
14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. 15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams.
18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
And they shall prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in heaven above
And signs in the earth beneath:
Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
20 The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
21 And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Shall be saved.' (Acts 2:14-21).
Women were included in the above.
And notice that the evangelist Philip's daughters did receive the prophetic gift:
8 On the next day we who were Paul's companions departed and came to Caesarea, and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. 9 Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:8-9).
But it should be noted that there is no scriptural indication that women were to be presbyters/priests, elders, or bishops (see 1 Timothy 3:1-13). But those that were prophetesses must have provided major assistance to the New Testament Church.
In the Old Testament, Moses' sister Miriam was referred to as a prophetess (Exodus 15:20).
Here is something from the old Radio Church of God on that:
In both the Old and New Testaments, we find that God did use some righteous women in the office of a prophetess. If we study these examples carefully, we will see that their function has often been misinterpreted and that their office carried no administrative authority, but that they were simply used of God to convey a message to one of His servants. or to other people — but never in the capacity of preaching or exercising authority over them.
Exodus 15:20-21 gives the account of Miriam the prophetess leading the women out to dance and praise God in song. But she is nowhere spoken of as having preached or having had authority of any kind over the men. And any honest Bible student knows that it would have been contrary to existing mode of conduct, and to God's command, for her to have done so.
An unusual situation in Israel which in many ways parallels our own present day DEGENERACY is described in chapters 4 and 5 of the book of Judges.
To properly understand this account, we need to realize that the entire book of Judges is primarily devoted to a history of Israel's mistakes because: "In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (Judges 17:6; 21:25).
In Judges 4:1 we find that Ehud, Israel's present "deliverer" (Judges 3:15) had died, and the people began doing evil in God's sight.
There seems to have been no man of real purpose and leadership to guide Israel at this time, and God sold them into the hand of the king of Canaan for their disobedience,
At this point, we read: "And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time" (Judges 4:4). Since no man had courage and leadership to master the situation and take the initiative, Deborah — being a prophetess and knowing God! will — reminded Barak, "Hath not the Lord God of Israel commanded..." And she proceeded to remind him — not command him, because she had no such authority over the men — of what God had commanded should be done.
Barak, being a weakling and too fearful to exercise his God-given-responsibility of leadership, told her, "If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go" (verse 8).
Knowing full well that Barak ought to be man enough to carry out this responsibility without having to cling to the skirts of a woman, Deborah told him: "I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman" (verse 9).
Deborah herself — a righteous and God-fearing woman — had no desire at all to usurp man's responsibility for leadership. And her own words betray how ashamed she must have felt of her men, who were so weak that she had to "mother" them along to get them to carry out God's will.
She later sang of this national tragedy: "The inhabitants of the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel. until that I arose a MOTHER in Israel" (Judges 5:7).
This pitiful spectacle of men being too weak and too lazy to carry out their God-given responsibility for leadership is closely paralleled in America today — right now! ...
There are a few other prophetesses mentioned specifically in the Bible, and in every case they were used as Deborah was — to impart knowledge to others as to God's will. In no case did they exercise authority.
We read of Huldah the prophetess in II Chronicles 34:22-28. Here we find that the King of Judah sent to Huldah to find out what Gods will was. But, upon learning be made the decision as to what should be done.
In Luke 2:36-38, we read of Anna, a prophetess, who was a widow 84 years old. She was a very righteous woman who "served God with fastings and prayers night and day." And so it was revealed to her that the child Jesus was the expected Messiah, and she was privileged to announce this to those who were gathered informally about Jesus and His earthly parents.
The four virgin daughters of Philip the evangelist are mentioned in Acts 21:8-9. The accounts says they "did prophesy," but we find an example of how this was often done in the following verses (10-12) describing Agabus, the prophet. Notice that Agabus did not preach to the group or have authority over them, but simply warned Paul personally, and those with him, of what God had revealed would befall him at Jerusalem.
So, although the word "prophesy" means to "foretell for God," whether in the sense of a revelation of future happenings or of inspired preaching, we see that the latter function was never exercised by women prophetesses, who never held authority over the men or the congregation, but only spoke privately to convey a message from God. (Meredith RC. Should Women Preach? Plain Truth magazine, November 1963)
And that last statement is the case today. If God grants a woman a prophetic message, she would convey it, privately, not in some female-given sermon.
And basically, we had a woman properly follow that practice in the Continuing Church of God (see Dreams, the Bible, the Radio Church of God, and the Continuing Church of God).
Perhaps around the early-middle of Paul’s ministry, he encountered the married couple of Priscilla and Aquila in Corinth (Acts 18:1-3). They were tent-makers from Rome. Priscilla was Aquila’s wife.
They both helped Apollos better understand the truth:
24 Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. 25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. (Acts 18:24-26)
They were also apparently quite brave and also had church services in their home in Rome:
Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house (Romans 16:3-5).
Notice that Paul included Priscilla as a fellow worker in Christ. Paul often violated that false Jewish restriction passed on through tradition.
When Paul was imprisoned in Rome, they still had church services in their home, and they apparently continued to support Paul, as he wrote:
19 The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house (1 Corinthians 16:19).
Later, they apparently moved again. In his letter to Timothy, who was then in Ephesus, Paul wrote:
19 Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus (2 Timothy 4:19).
The Catholic Encyclopedia states, "It is not known why Scripture several times names Priscilla before Aquila." But the simple fact is that it does.
These verses show that Priscilla, and not just her husband Aquila, made major contributions to the ministry of Paul as well as to the New Testament church (additional information can be found in the article Priscilla and Aquila).
Lydia was a wealthy woman who lived in the town of Thyatira. The story of Lydia shows that in the New Testament church, a woman did not need to be married in order to serve:
Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay." So she persuaded us (Acts 16:14-15).
Notice that Lydia was so respected, that her entire household was baptized. Also, it appears that she probably had Christian church services in her home, as the following verse suggests concerning Paul and his colleagues:
40 So they went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia; and when they had seen the brethren, they encouraged them and departed (Acts 16:40).
The fact that Paul and those imprisoned with him found the brethren (not just Lydia’s household) at Lydia’s house, suggests that church services met there. She probably provided financial and other support to the Apostle Paul as well.
The Apostle Paul seems to suggest that Timothy’s mother and grandmother properly passed their faith to him:
3 I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, 4 greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, 5 when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also. (2 Timothy 1:3-5)
14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:14-15)
Hence, women are acknowledged for their faith, being proper mothers, as well as for helping to pass their faith to one of the leading evangelists in the New Testament.
The Book of Hebrews gives various examples of faith.
Notice something about Abraham's wife Sarah:
11 By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude — innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore. (Hebrews 11:11-12)
Although the Hebrew scriptures state that Sarah was beautiful (Genesis 12:11), notice the New Testament does not commend her for her genetics, but her faith.
And there were others:
23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's command. (Hebrews 11:23)
It was both Moses mother and father that had that faith.
30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. 31 By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace. 32 And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. 36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented — 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. (Hebrews 11:30-40)
Both men and women had faith and were heirs to the promises. Equally.
Notice also that Paul taught:
16 The Spirit itself bears witness conjointly with our own spirit, testifying that we are the children of God. 17 Now if we are children, we are also heirs—truly, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if indeed we suffer together with Him, so that we may also be glorified together with Him. (Romans 8:16-17, AFV)
Notice also that Paul taught:
I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life (Philippians 4:2-3).
So although he did not allow them to preach, Paul considered that women labored with him in the gospel and had their names listed in the Book of Life.
Furthermore, various duties and responsibilities were encouraged for, and rights provided for, women in the New Testament Church. Including being a proper Christian example.
1 But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: 2 that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; 3 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things — 4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed. (Titus 2:1-5).
Women who are discreet and chaste do not attempt to dress like prostitutes or immoral women. Christian women should be able to be teachers of good things (without the need to be preachers from the pulpit).
According to various passages in other parts of the New Testament, Christian women realized that they could and should support the church.
Notice something that the Apostle Peter wrote to men and women:
15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. (1 Peter 3:15-16).
15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. 1 Peter 3:15-16, KJV).
Yes, women should be able to answer doctrinal and religious questions to those that ask. They should share information to those that want it, but to be careful not to push it or try to function as evangelists. This can be a delicate distinction, but biblically this seems to be a required one.
Jesus taught that Christians should let their lights shine:
14 You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 4:14-16)
Lights shine with making little, if any, sounds.
Notice also the following:
3 But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. 6 For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered. 7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man is not from woman, but woman from man. 9 Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. 10 For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. 12 For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God. (1 Corinthians 11:3-12)
The above is partially why a woman should have long hair and a man shorter hair. But notice that is also teaches and interdependence of men and women. Some seem to forget that.
All people, men and women, need to properly discern their roles and limitations--but that tends to take time (cf. Hebrews 5:14).
Paul has this to say to women who are married to unbelievers:
13 And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. 15 But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. 16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife? (1 Corinthians 7:13-16).
Hence, there is a suggestion of evangelical involvement for women in both of these passages.
But the following from the old Radio Church of God may be helpful for women married to men who are not part of the Church of God:
If your husband doesn't understand the truth, you must not try to convert him by constantly repeating your belief and by insisting that he listen to the broadcast or read the literature. That will only drive him further away from the truth. Rather, you should wait until he questions you concerning a certain truth. Then you should be prepared to give a convincing Biblical explanation.
Peter further instructs Christian women: "Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands" (I Pet. 3:3-5).
Certainly, controversies will come up in families if they disagree on religion. In such a case, the wife must obey God rather than her husband. For example, if the husband wishes his wife to break the Sabbath Day by doing the family shopping on Saturday, or by attending a football game or movie with him, she should refuse to do so. However, she should explain in a very kind way that the Sabbath is the day God commanded us to keep holy. She should, in such a case, obey God rather than man. Yet, she should always be submissive in attitude toward her husband and obey her husband when his authority does not conflict with the higher authority or law of God.
Remember, the wife should be in subjection to her husband even though he may not be converted. Though he may never be converted in this life (I Cor. 7:12-16), yet if she obeys him and respects him as the Bible commands, he will in turn love and respect her. As a result, he may be won over by her good example. He may be inspired to want to obey the truth when he sees the life she is living (I Pet. 3:1). (How should a Christian woman obey her unconverted husband? LETTER ANSWERING DEPARTMENT Letter Number: 929. Radio Church of God, 1960)
Remember in case of a moral conflict:
29 We ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)
While above was a specific reference to improper religious-governmental decrees, and the Bible says to obey those who have the rule over you (Hebrews 13:17; Romans 13:1-6), you do not violate God's instructions to do so. The same concept applies to children obeying their parents and wives their husbands.
Notice also the following:
1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience' sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God's ministers attending continually to this very thing. (Romans 13:1-6)
You are to be obedient to the government, even when you do not agree--whether male or female--and not just because you like to. Very few like paying taxes, but we are told to obey and do so anyway. So, wives are to obey their husbands even if they do not like their pronouncements.
Women do have some unique admonitions. Notice something that Jesus taught men:
27 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. (Matthew 5:27-29)
Notice also the following from the Book of Proverbs:
23 For the commandment is a lamp,
And the law a light;
Reproofs of instruction are the way of life,
24 To keep you from the evil woman,
From the flattering tongue of a seductress.
25 Do not lust after her beauty in your heart,
Nor let her allure you with her eyelids. (Proverbs 6:23-25)
Since men are not to lust after women, women should not try to provoke such lust. Women, like men, are to love their neighbor as their selves (James 2:8)--and public seductive appearance is not love. Seductresses are condemned in scripture (Proverbs 2:16-22; 7:21-27; 23:27-28), as seemingly are enticers (cf. Job 31:9; Proverbs 1:10; 7:21-27).
Furthermore, notice what the Apostle Peter warned against:
14 having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children. (2 Peter 2:14)
The above applies to women as well as men. No one should try to entice others to sin. Christian women should set a proper example in dress and conduct.
While some have oddly claimed that Christian women can wear as little as they like in public, that goes against the idea of love, propriety, and modesty, as well as the following that the Apostle Paul wrote:
8 I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; 9 in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, 10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. (1 Timothy 2:8-10)
Propriety refers to rules of polite, not provocative, public behavior.
Dressing modestly makes it easier for men to follow the instructions that the Apostle Paul gave them about treating women:
19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them (Colossians 3:19).
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. (Ephesians 5:25-29).
1 Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, younger as sisters, with all purity (1 Timothy 5:1-2).
Note that women are to be loved by their husbands, and never hated by them. And unmarried older women are to be honored (that is how one treats one as their mother) and younger women are to be respected in purity. Women (like men) also are not biblically-required to get married (1 Corinthians 7:34). These are specific rights of women in the New Testament Church.
In addition, there are rights in the Old Testament.
The Bible also makes it clear that women do have specific rights and responsibilities in the sexual arena.
One is the right, essentially an obligatory statute, not to have sex if they are not married:
If any man takes a wife, and goes in to her, and detests her, and charges her with shameful conduct, and brings a bad name on her, and says, 'I took this woman, and when I came to her I found she was not a virgin,' "then the father and mother of the young woman shall take and bring out the evidence of the young woman's virginity to the elders of the city at the gate. And the young woman's father shall say to the elders, 'I gave my daughter to this man as wife, and he detests her; now he has charged her with shameful conduct, saying, "I found your daughter was not a virgin," and yet these are the evidences of my daughter's virginity.' And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. Then the elders of that city shall take that man and punish him; and they shall fine him one hundred shekels of silver and give them to the father of the young woman, because he has brought a bad name on a virgin of Israel. And she shall be his wife; he cannot divorce her all his day (Deuteronomy 22:13-19).
The above also gives women a right to not having her reputation improperly tarnished.
A woman also has the right to not be raped:
"But if a man finds a betrothed young woman in the countryside, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. But you shall do nothing to the young woman; there is in the young woman no sin deserving of death, for just as when a man rises against his neighbor and kills him, even so is this matter (Deuteronomy 22:25-26).
Another right is that women, like men, have the right to marry or the right not to marry. Notice:
But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion (1 Corinthians 7:8-9).
58 Then they called Rebekah and said to her, "Will you go with this man?" And she said, "I will go"... 67 Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent; and he took Rebekah and she became his wife, and he loved her (Genesis 24:58,67).
6 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 7 "The daughters of Zelophehad speak what is right; you shall surely give them a possession of inheritance among their father's brothers, and cause the inheritance of their father to pass to them. 8 And you shall speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'If a man dies and has no son, then you shall cause his inheritance to pass to his daughter. (Numbers 27:6-8)
6 This is what the Lord commands concerning the daughters of Zelophehad, saying, 'Let them marry whom they think best, but they may marry only within the family of their father's tribe.' 7 So the inheritance of the children of Israel shall not change hands from tribe to tribe, for every one of the children of Israel shall keep the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers. (Numbers 36:6-7)
5 "When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war or be charged with any business; he shall be free at home one year, and bring happiness to his wife whom he has taken. (Deuteronomy 24:5)
So, women do have the right to decide who (male of course) to marry, they have certain property rights, and when they are married, their husbands have the obligation to try to bring them happiness (at least for the first year--there is no limitation on that in the Bible).
Partially, because of Deuteronomy 24:5, I turned down a job that would have required out-of-area business travel in 1981--the year my wife Joyce and I got married. I also taught this passage to our sons (cf. Deuteronomy 6:6-7), and the only one who has gotten married followed it as well. While he sometimes had a couple of trips, he took his wife with him on those trips.
Notice also that the Bible says that the husband is to attempt to bring happiness to his wife that first year. Not that the husband should stop after the first year, but by striving to bring happiness to his wife, the husband should develop good habits that will help insure a successful marriage.
The New Testament shows that married persons, either male or female are expected to not deprive their spouses of sex:
Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control (1 Corinthians 7:3-5).
Also, notice something from the New Testament:
39 A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 7:39)
So, women do have the right to decide who to marry.
The Bible indicates that fathers can prevent their daughters from marrying in certain circumstances (cf. Exodus 22:17) and likely also, should the father choose, if they have not reached age 20. The Bible indicates that twenty is the age for a certain level of adulthood (Exodus 30:14), and adult women can then decide which male, if any, to marry (see also Making Your Marriage Work).
The Bible tells both men and women which way to choose when they are faced with choices:
See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you...
I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live (Deuteronomy 30:15-16,19).
Those who wish to live according to the Bible will choose life so that they and their children (their descendants) will live.
The Bible condemns those that shed innocent blood, as that is something that God hates:
19 So you shall put away the guilt of innocent blood from among you when you do what is right in the sight of the LORD (Deuteronomy 21:9).
37 They even sacrificed their sons
And their daughters to demons,
38 And shed innocent blood,
The blood of their sons and daughters,
Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan;
And the land was polluted with blood. (Psalm 106:37-38)
16 These six things the LORD hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: 17 A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, 18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, 19 A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren (Proverbs 6:16-19).
7 Their feet run to evil, And they make haste to shed innocent blood; Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; Wasting and destruction are in their paths. 8 The way of peace they have not known, And there is no justice in their ways; They have made themselves crooked paths; Whoever takes that way shall not know peace (Isaiah 59:7-8).
3 Thus says the LORD: "Execute judgment and righteousness, and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor. Do no wrong and do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place (Jeremiah 22:3).
17 "Yet your eyes and your heart are for nothing but your covetousness, For shedding innocent blood, And practicing oppression and violence" (Jeremiah 22:17).
Babies are innocent. Killing them is the shedding of innocent blood. Innocent blood pollutes the land. Furthermore, consider that God's word records that a leader filled his land "with innocent blood, which the Lord would not pardon" (2 Kings 24:4). Because of that, God had the King of Babylon and others to destroy (2 Kings 24:1-4). The Bible tells of a coming end time daughter of Babylon, and its leader will destroy the USA according to Bible prophecy (Daniel 11:39; see also Anglo - America in Prophecy & the Lost Tribes of Israel).
Notice the following:
172 My tongue shall speak of Your word, For all Your commandments are righteousness (Psalm 119:172).
34 Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people (Proverbs 14:34).
Killing babies through abortion is not righteous. It is a reproach to nations that allow and encourage it.
Those that consent to abortions are often proud, are normally lying to themselves that they are not doing violence to a human being, and often have abortions because of their own lusts and covetousness. Adding the sin of abortion to their other sins is simply not the answer.
They also place themselves in the same category as Judas Iscariot, for he admitted that when he betrayed Jesus Christ, he (Judas) betrayed "innocent blood" (Matthew 27:4). Jesus was betrayed by someone He considered to be a friend--no baby should be betrayed by the mother that is supposed to love them.
Women are struck emotionally for the rest of their lives (please also Abortion Proponents Lied to Public as some women's sorrows about having abortions is mentioned) when they consent to an abortion (the Bible even warns of curses for killing the innocent, Deuteronomy 27:25). That is not a choice they ever should make.
The Bible warns about "doctrines of demons" (1 Timothy 4:1). Surely abortion is not a doctrine of good angels.
Many abortions occur because of greed or sexual sins.
While not all abortions occur because of sexual sins such as fornication, adultery, and prostitution, many do. Abortion is not a solution for all sins. Adding sin to sin is not the solution.
Women do not have to marry. But if they do marry, they do not have the right to kill babies.
For more on abortion, check out the following article: Abortion, the Bible, and a Woman's Right to Choose.
Throughout the New Testament, the feminine is associated with the church. The Apostle Paul called this a great mystery in Ephesians 5 (quoted earlier), but still explained that was so.
Notice the following from the Apostle John who refers to the true church as a 'lady':
1 The Elder, To the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth, 2 because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever: (2 John 1-2)
4 I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father. 5 And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another. 6 This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it. (2 John 4-6)
The Book of Revelation always refers to the church in the feminine. Notice the following:
6 And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, "Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! 7 Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready." 8 And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
9 Then he said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!'" (Revelation 19:6-9)
14 But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. 15 So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. 16 But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17 And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 12:14-17)
Jesus died for the church (cf. Ephesians 5:25) which gives some idea how much God loves the church and how special He views the role of women.
On the other hand, the New Testament also condemns the false and falling away churches as an unfaithful women (Revelation 2:20-23; 17:1-18; 18:2-8).
Therefore, women should strive to live pure and proper lives as a Christian (see also Living as a Christian: How and Why?).
There were several roles, however, that women did not have. The Apostle Paul wrote:
34 Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. 35 And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church. (1 Corinthians 14:34-35).
11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. (1 Timothy 2:11-12).
The above does not mean that women can never talk. What Paul is teaching is that women are not supposed to be the ones giving sermons.
The New Testament also shows:
3:1 This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach (1 Timothy 3:1-2).
5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you-- 6 if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination (Titus 1:5-6).
Thus, the New Testament does not support the concept of women being elders/bishops over a church as only males are shown to be in those specific roles.
But as this article shows, the Bible does not prevent women from having important roles in the church.
While many understand the concept that the New Testament supports the idea that a woman is an analogy of the New Testament Church (Ephesians 5:22-32), some do not understand that this was realized right after the New Testament was finished.
Second Clement (which Clement did not write) is called "the oldest complete Christian sermon that has survived" (Holmes M.W. The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, 2nd ed. Baker Books, Grand Rapids, 2004, p. 102). While there are one or two unusual statements in this document, it does give clues to beliefs held in the early 2nd century (100-140 A.D.) among those who professed Christ.
It has this point to make about the New Testament Church:
14:2 And I do not suppose you are ignorant that the living Church is the body of Christ: for the scripture says, "God made man, male and female." The male is Christ and the female is the Church.
This passage shows that many in the early Church understood the Apostle Paul’s analogy of a woman representing the church. This strongly shows the importance that Paul and others give to women. An importance that simply does not seem to have an equivalent in the Jewish customs of the time.
Also in the second century, Polycarp wrote:
The young women must maintain a pure and blameless conscience...
I am writing these things to you via Crescens, whom I recently commended to you, and now commend again, for his conduct while with us has been blameless, and I believe that it will likewise be with you. And you will consider his sister to be commended when she comes to you (Polycarp. Letter to the Philippians, Verses 5,14. In: Holmes M. The Apostolic Fathers--Greek Text and English Translations, 3rd printing 2004, pp. 213,221).
Notice that Polycarp commended both and man and his sister. He felt that young women needed to lead a pure life and should be commended by those in the church.
Furthermore, certain women, such as the daughters of the Apostle Philip had a reputation for being faithful in the early church. Notice that Philip's daughters are mentioned among the important leaders who kept the Passover on the 14th of Nisan:
We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord's coming, when he shall come with glory from heaven, and shall seek out all the saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who fell asleep in Hierapolis; and his two aged virgin daughters, and another daughter, who lived in the Holy Spirit and now rests at Ephesus; and, moreover, John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and, being a priest, wore the sacerdotal plate. He fell asleep at Ephesus. And Polycarp in Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr; and Thraseas, bishop and martyr from Eumenia, who fell asleep in Smyrna. Why need I mention the bishop and martyr Sagaris who fell asleep in Laodicea, or the blessed Papirius, or Melito, the Eunuch who lived altogether in the Holy Spirit, and who lies in Sardis, awaiting the episcopate from heaven, when he shall rise from the dead ? All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, do according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have closely followed. For seven of my relatives were bishops; and I am the eighth. And my relatives always observed the day when the people put away the leaven. I, therefore, brethren, who have lived sixty-five years in the Lord, and have met with the brethren throughout the world, and have gone through every Holy Scripture, am not affrighted by terrifying words. For those greater than I have said ' We ought to obey God rather than man'...I could mention the bishops who were present, whom I summoned at your desire; whose names, should I write them, would constitute a great multitude. And they, beholding my littleness, gave their consent to the letter, knowing that I did not bear my gray hairs in vain, but had always governed my life by the Lord Jesus (Eusebius. Church History. Book V, Chapter 25).
Notice that by the end of the second century, those women were considered to have been "great lights" and "saints" who had died, yet were faithful, just as the apostles were. (It should be noted that these daughters are not the same as those in Acts 21:8-9, as that Philip was one of the seven, while this Philip was one of the twelve apostles).
However, it should be noted that there is no early historical indication that women were to be presbyters/priests, elders, or bishops.
There are many stories about Christian women who were martyred. One will be briefly mentioned here:
One of the most famous accounts of female martyrs is The Martyrdom of Perpetua. This martyrdom reports that Vibia Perpetua, its heroine, was from a prominent family in Turburbo, North Africa. She, together with other Christians, including her slave Felicitas, was martyred probably in the year 203 A.D…
If Perpetua herself wrote the first section of the Martyrdom…this account is one of the earliest pieces of Christian literature written by a woman. It perhaps suggests that women were allowed more freedom in early Christian prophetic movements than they later enjoyed (Clark, Elizabeth. Women in the Early Church. The Liturgical Press, Collegeville (MN), 1983, pp. 97-98).
While I believe that a woman named Perpetua was martyred, I cannot be certain of the facts as there are many fanciful stories about her that do not appear to be true.
But the fact is that women, as well as men, were often killed for the profession of faith in Christ in the early New Testament Church. And the other fact is that women had more influence in the early church than they seem to have in many churches today.
What about more modern times?
Women can serve the Church in many capacities and many do. From being deaconesses to assisting others in or interested in the Church of God to being fellow laborers of the gospel.
Here is something related to former head of the Church of God, Seventh Day, A.N. Dugger, in the 1925:
...in the "Question Corner" section of the Advocate, Dugger said that women were not to be in religious authority over men, but they could be used as workers and have a part in evangelistic work (I Corinthians 14:34-35, I Timothy 2:12 and Romans 16). (Nickels R.C. History of the Seventh Day Church of God. 1988, p. 94)
As one who had assisted the church in some of those capacities for decades in an unordained capacity, I will simply add that just because someone is not an ordained deacon, elder, or deaconess, does not mean that one cannot serve the Church of God in many ways.
And I believe that when Jesus taught:
37 The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest (Matthew 9:37-38).
That this was not limited to men only, but includes women.
In the early 20th century, prior to the start of the Radio Church of God, Loma Armstrong had a dream that RCG/WCG said came from God as the first part of the dream was later confirmed (see Dreams, the Bible, the Radio Church of God, and the Continuing Church of God).
Furthermore, Loma Armstrong assisted her husband, Herbert W. Armstrong, in many aspects of the work and the start of the Philadelphia Church Era. Some believe more apostasy hit the Worldwide Church of God after her death as she reportedly assisted her husband in understanding some character traits of various church leaders.
By the way, in the 21st century, a woman was granted a dream prior to the start of the Continuing Church of God, part of which also was confirmed by later events.
Currently in the Continuing Church of God women assist with videoing and other aspects of church services, editing publications and letters, online radio production, translating, and in various other activities that support the final phase of the work, including with websites.
I also believe that as we approach the end of the church age, that God will use many men and women, who have not been used as much in the past, to truly be laborers for the Lord's harvest.
Well biblically it would appear to be those that:
18... grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).
15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).
Women need to be instructed so that they can instruct others. Some will be persecuted for that as Bible prophecy teaches:
32 Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. 33 And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering. 34 Now when they fall, they shall be aided with a little help; but many shall join with them by intrigue. 35 And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time. (Daniel 11:32-35)
Despite views of certain ones, even though they often have different roles, women have the same spiritual potential as men:
7 Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)
Husbands should give honour to their wives. But also notice that wives are to be HEIR TOGETHER--not that one's inheritance is less because of gender.
Notice also what Paul wrote:
26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on 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 are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26-29)
Women have the same potential to be deified in the God family as men (Deification: Did the Early Church Teach That Christians Would Become God?). And that is the position not only of the Bible, but also the Church of God throughout history.
10 And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth. (Revelation 5:10)
Yes, women are heirs to the above promise to be kings and priests in the coming Kingdom of God.
Women have no less potential than men.
The New Testament reveals that women had more freedom and influence within the Christian church than they apparently did in the Jewish religion in the first and second centuries.
Women in the New Testament church were apparently more respected than many women in other settings at that time.
These New Testament women were intended to set an example of faith and faithfulness, for future women, as well as men, who profess Christ.
The New Testament reveals that women had both rights and responsibilities, rights and responsibilities that they still should have to this day.
Now, some will discount the scriptures so far given and may claim that if they (or some other woman) is 'led by God' to preach, then they should be able to be preachers.
The Bible not only prohibits female preachers, it also warns:
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and depart from evil.
8 It will be health to your flesh,
And strength to your bones. (Proverbs 3:5-8)
The Bible also says:
13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man's all.
14 For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)
Women are to obey God's commands and not go against them and claim rebellion against them is somehow God's will.
While there are some differences in the roles that God has for males and females now, that is not the case after the resurrection. Women have the same potential as men.
Because of the help of women in different continents, the Continuing Church of God is better able to fulfill its part of Matthew 24:14 and Matthew 28:19-20.
Women have had, and will have, important roles in the Church of God. Those women who are truly faithful have their names written in the Book of Life.
Here are links to two related sermons: Women's Roles in the Church and New Testament Women.
More on the roles of women can be found in the article: True Womanhood: A Lost Cause? (see also Abortion, the Bible, and a Woman's Right to Choose).
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