Spiritual FAQs E

Can Women Be Preachers…Scripturally?

The Women Question
by Pastor Chas Stevenson

Can women be preachers, teachers, pastors, leaders in the church? Because every sincere Bible reader runs into this question, we need right answers so that Christians aren’t living with uncomfortable uncertainties nor unnecessary restraints. Pastor Chas unfolds great scriptural proof and evidence to answer the question with Scriptural honesty.

Women Preachers?

Did you know…that God approves of women preachers, and even women pastors?  He does.  The scriptures that have been used to silence women in churches have nothing to do with a mandate from God about who is called into pulpit ministry.

Rather, those scriptures are in the context of keeping order in the marriage relationship…that the wife should not usurp authority over her husband. The scriptures never say that women cannot be a pastor or preach the gospel. It actually says in the Bible that they cannot “speak” at all! (1 Cor 14:34). Obviously, some right interpretation is needed.

1. The key principle in Scripture is that there is an order in the family relationship. Both husband and wife are equal in essence and nature, just different in position and role. That is why Paul included that in his preaching. Apparently there was some disturbance in public with wives not honoring their husbands in the midst of a culture that was scrutinizing the Church very closely.

Eph 5:22-24 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

1Cor 11:3 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.

So, here at Houston Faith Church, Pastor Joni is certainly submitted to me, both as husband and Senior Pastor. But notice 1 Cor 11:3, “the head of woman is man”. It’s only referring to married women and men. All men are NOT the head of all women. For example, Mr. Bob down the street is not the head of my wife! I am. I’m her husband. Only husbands have positional authority over their own, ONE wife. So ALL women are not called to submit to ALL men.

2. In Christ, men and women and husbands and wives are equal in essence and nature, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. … 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” (Gal 3:26-28). The way God looks at it, when it comes to setting people into the Body, we are equal.

3. The scriptures that have been used to silence women in churches have nothing to do with a mandate from God about who is called into pulpit ministry and who can teach in church. Rather, those scriptures are in the context of keeping order in the marriage relationship—that the wife should not usurp authority over her husband (1 Corinthians 14:34-36, 1 Timothy 2:11-12). And teaching a husband can sometimes cause a little friction in the family (both in those days and even today), so there must be care given.

The key discrepancy revolves around the translation of the New Testament word women.  The Greek word for womenand woman is “gune” (or gyne) (pronounced goonay).  However, the word gune is also the same exact Greek word for wife and wives.  There is only one Greek word for both woman and wife, and that is where the translators missed it by not keeping it in context asking “how this fits?” or “why?”, and where some churches miss it still today.  Many topics where women were commanded something different than men actually only referred to wives and husbands. So, if you study those scriptures in that light, it has nothing to do with women and wives not talking at church or having leadership roles, but rather wives keeping their submission to their husbands apparent in public.

Why did the mis-translation happen? Maybe because of cultural pressure? I don’t know. But that’s why it’s so great that we all have access to the Greek and Hebrew version that the translators used. Where one Greek word may have multiple English words, the translators had to choose. And sometimes they likely made the wrong choice.

For instance, the word ‘gune’ is translated as woman 129 times and wife 92 times, based on the context. It does require some thoughtful analysis. (Same with the word ‘aner’, which is translated both man and husband.)


4. 1Tim 2:11-13 – If we change the word woman to wife and man to husband, it makes more sense, especially since the example given is Adam and Eve, who were married: “Let the wife learn in silence with all subjection. But I do not allow a wife to teach, nor to usurp authority over the husband, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve…Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.”

Notice that it mentions “childbearing”. Clearly, it’s speaking of a husband and wife and not all men and women. It’s a marriage issue, not a gender issue.


5. Paul mentions it again in 1Cor 14:34-35, “Let your women (wives) keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. 35 And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women (wives) to speak in the church.”

But notice this:  first it says “women”, but then is says “let them ask their husbands at home”. But not all women have husbands, so clearly the context is referring to marriage relationship and not gender.


6. Now, look at the argument people are giving. Many are using these scriptures to say that a woman can’t be a Pastor. But the Bible never says that anywhere. It says women should “be silent in church.” That means no singing, no teaching children, no prophesying, no words out of the mouth.  So, are they trying to stop women from talking in church?  If they believed what they were interpreting, they should. So, that doesn’t make any sense, because we know that it would be impossible to stop the ladies from talking in church (and it would be wrong).

So, what’s happening is that people are altering the Bible and saying, “Well, women can teach the children in the back, but not stand in the pulpit in the sanctuary.” That’s wrong to twist things.

And even if we change the word to wives, would we really be so stubborn as to say that single women can talk and teach, but as soon as they get married, they must become silent? Obviously, just a little bit of common sense helps us keep the real point in context:  wives, submit to your husbands, especially in public.

No scripture anywhere says that “women can’t be pastors, evangelists, apostles, prophets, or leaders in the Church”.

7. Are there any women speaking to men in the Bible? Yes there are.

  1. In Acts 1:13,14, those in the upper room included women, ” And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:4). Women spoke in tongues in the assembly, with the men.
  2. Notice the prophesy was fulfilled with women prophesying,  “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. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy” (Acts 2:17-18). Certainly, the Lord wouldn’t approve of women prophesying outside the church but then forbid them to do it inside, right? 
  3. Phillip had four daughters which prophesied (Acts 21:9).
  4. One of the first evangelists was actually a woman, who found the Messiah and went and told a whole city (John 4:28). Half the city believed and were saved. The other half came to see and were saved. Of course there was no command from God to her, “But don’t tell the men, only the women of the city”.
  5. Miriam in the O.T. was a prophetess. Deborah in the O.T. was a prophetess and even a judge. Huldah (a prophetess). In the New Testament,  God used Anna to preach redemption to everyone when Jesus was born, “And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she [was] a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served [God] with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem”  (Luke 2:36-38).

8. In the Bible, are there women leaders in the Church? Yes.

  1. Who led the church at Ephesus? Priscilla, along with her husband Aquila. Paul called Priscilla a “fellow worker in Christ” (Rom 16:3). Greet Priscilla and Aquila my ‘helpers’ in Christ Jesus:  In other words, he considered her his equal, a colleague in Christ. Priscilla also explained the gospel to Apollos (Acts 18:26). “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.”  There was no command for Priscilla not to teach Apollos. If it’s okay to teach one man, it’s okay to teach more than one.
  2. Which female apostle did Paul endorse? Junia (Rom 16:7). MOST SCHOLARS NOW AGREE IT IS A WOMAN’S NAME. Paul said she and Andronicus were “outstanding among the apostles.” (Note: Some Bible translators are so bothered by a female apostle that they have turned Junia into Junias and made her a man. While most scholars believe that Andronicus was her husband, there is no mention of that in the text – he could possibly have been a brother or other relative)  Romans 16:7 also says that Junia was imprisoned for her faith at some point before Romans was written (approximately A.D. 55). This fact would make her one of the first believers arrested for her faith (she was maybe even in prison alongside Paul). Further, she was involved in the formation of the early church in Rome.  
  3. Which two women contended for the gospel at Paul’s side? Euodia and Syntyche (Php 4:2-3). These two ladies are famous for disagreeing; they ought to be famous for preaching alongside Paul.  As a Roman colony, Philippi gave a level of independence to women that was not common in most Greek cities of the period; this may account for the prominence of the women and their disagreement. 
  4. Miriam, along with Moses and Aaron, was one of the three leaders of Israel during the Exodus from Egypt (Mic 6:4). Deborah, the prophetess, was a judge of Israel and basically in charge of the army (Judges 5-6). If women could lead under the misogynistic old covenant, they can surely lead under the new, and they did (see Junia, Priscilla, etc.).

9. The gift of God. The all-important qualifier for standing in a ministry office is the gift of God.  Truthfully, the gifts of God given in the form of teachers and preachers is the main point. If God has given a gift in the form of a woman preacher, who are we to deny it?  And certainly, most any logical spiritual person must acknowledge that there are wonderful female preachers in the Church today. How dare we tell them that they can only talk about God if they are not in the church building? How could we stop a woman, anointing by God’s Spirit, from sharing a testimony or winning souls…in church?  How dare we take away the calling and title that only God can give?

We must honestly judge the fruit. If the fruit is good, then the tree must be fine.

10. In summary, the mention of women being silent in church and not teaching husbands has nothing to do with male and female, but only with husbands and wives.   And if anyone is trying to be Scriptural by denying women to be pastors or preachers, they are being deceitful because it doesn’t say that. It says, “be silent” in church, which no one wants to enforce that!

This is simply one of those rare, isolated instances where the wrong choice of translation of the Greek word really throws us off.

Certainly, there are men who do not want women over them in any area of life. But that is not their business. If God has ordained a woman leader, and given the gifts to accomplish it, so be it.

Being filled with the Spirit usually helps people recognize the spiritual side of this and more easily recognize a spiritual gift upon a woman (and even be able to receive from a woman preacher, as well).

Of course, if any female preacher or pastor who overstepped the boundary and acted in a manner unsubmitted to her husband would be in violation of the scriptures. So, we would have to forgive her, and she would need to repent to God about it.  And just the same, if any male pastor or leader in a church usurped authority over the pastor, they would be in error and we would have to forgive them as well.  It’s all about order, so that the function of the church is smooth and powerful. 

And having a female preacher/leader at church does not ruin that.