What does this all mean?
It also does not appear that Paul has given us a timeless edict. He has laid down a principle that cannot be ignored: namely, that whoever serves as a pastor must be educated and prepared so that they are not easily deceived. This would apply to men and women. Anyone who is not educated well enough is more subject to deception (modern studies have confirmed this to be one of the leading factors for deception among adults), and therefore should not be in the office of pastor in the church. This corresponds with Paul’s list of qualifications in 1 Tim 3 for pastors: including the fact that they cannot be a ‘new convert’ (1 Tim 3:6) and that they must be ‘able to teach’ (1 Tim 3:2). For those who are new converts will be susceptible to deception as they are not likely well educated in the teachings of the church.
It is tragic that some of these very churches who adamantly restrict women from being pastors and teachers have men in these positions who also lack the education necessary to protect the flock from the deceptions of the devil. The principle, as Paul has set forth in this passage, is that anyone who is more easily deceived cannot serve as pastors and teachers over the church. Paul eliminated all women because in his day they were, generally speaking, not privileged to the education necessary to qualify them for such positions. But, in 1 Timothy 3, when he lists the qualifications for pastors, he notes that men who are not educated (i.e., new converts and not able to teach) are similarly excluded from the office of pastor over men.
In all, women have tremendous gifts and callings from the Lord. These gifts and callings are essential to the full growth and edification of the body! It is time that we all recognize them for who they are and what they can bring to the table!
This means that as long as there are no cultural factors that create a hindrance to the gospel (as would be the case in various part of the world even today), women should be allowed to teach and have authority in the church. In fact, if women teaching and having authority were a help to the gospel in a particular cultural context (such as Europe and much of the west), then we should absolutely permit it. Imagine if, in our progressive culture, the church were leading the way in the area of women’s rights, how much it would potentially positively affect the spread of the Gospel!
Why is this important?
First, hindering women from roles of leadership in the church suppresses women and both denies them the opportunity to use the very gifts given to them by the Holy Spirit, and denies the church the blessings that would come from their doing so. When women are not given their proper role in the New Creation alongside men, the Kingdom of God suffers. Just think about: we lose half (or more than half) of our resources.
Secondly, the church’s backward views of women often fosters the discrimination and abuse against women mentioned at the beginning of these posts. Instead of leading the way in terms of justice for all, we are silent. At times we are in fact leading the charge for the suppression of women. Many may take offense at this accusation. But, I know well that many men in the evangelical church are afraid to speak up for women’s rights because they would not want to be seen as supporting the liberal movement of women’s rights. Shame on us. Our women are suppressed, marginalized, abused, raped, forced into slavery, and unwanted marriages and we are afraid to speak up because we don’t want to be considered liberal? I say that to speak up is to be Christian!
Jesus said, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38). You may not agree with me on the theological conviction of women in ministry. But for the sake of women in our world, I dare say that we must reconsider our views, for the impact on women is atrocious!
Recently a very popular conservative evangelical pastor (John MacArthur) put down a popular woman teacher (Beth Moore). When asked to give a one word association to “Beth Moore” MacArthur replied with two words: “go home.” The host and the assembled crowd applauded in an uproar of laughter. I am sorry but this was despicable. It was rude. It was a display of arrogant and pretentiousness.
Just because one does not believe that women should be allowed to teach in the church, does not give one the right to disgrace those who do or the women who teach. The NT is emphatic, and the repeated emphasis only serves to accentuate its importance, that we are to maintain unity in the church. We must love and respect one another. MacArthur did not reflect any notion of love for the other. His comments were offensive to Beth Moore, to women in general, and to all who affirm the right of women to teach and preach. Moreover, he was cavalier and somewhat arrogant and the response of the crowd only served to foster division in the church. This is radically unbiblical.
As I have argued in my posts, women should be allowed to teach and pastor in the church today as a sign that the kingdom of God has come. If you do not agree with this position that is one thing. But the continued attitude that denigrates women is unacceptable and the church must cry out against this.
 Cf Rom 12:10, 16; 1 Cor 1:10; 3:3-7; Eph 4:2-6; Phil 2:1-4; Ps 133:1. It is through our unity that the world will know that the Father sent the Son (John 17:23).
 John 13:35; 1 John 3:14; 4:12; 1 Pet 3:8.
Doesn’t Paul say women can’t be pastors?
But what about 1 Timothy 2 were Paul seems to forbid women from teaching and having authority in the church and he appears to do so with abiding justifications and not culturally relevant ones? “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression” (1 Tim 2:12-14).
Before looking at this passage we should note that this was not an absolute dictum that forbade women from all teaching activities. After all, we see women doing just that throughout the NT. Priscilla was teaching Apollos in Acts 18. Philip’s four daughters were prophesying in Acts 21 (note: the act of prophesying entails teaching). And in 1 Cor 11:5, Paul approves of women praying and prophesying in church, He simply requests that they have their heads covered when doing so.
Now, it is widely acknowledged that the twin prohibitions of ‘teaching’ and ‘having authority’ in 1 Tim 2:12 entail the primary functions of a pastor. Thus, while not absolutely forbidding a woman from teaching in every setting, Paul was forbidding them from the role of a pastor or church leader; at least “over men.” This would suggest that a women preaching on a Sunday morning to the congregation may well be permitted; for though they are performing a task that a pastor performs they are not usurping his authority as pastor and leader of the flock. That is, the text forbids them from two things that together constitute the position or office of what we term ‘pastor’. This does not mean that a woman cannot perform the task of teaching—which is why we see women teaching at various times in the NT.
To suggest that women cannot preach on Sunday, but yet they can present the same message to a classroom on Wednesday is quite silly. What is the difference between a woman teaching a message on a Wednesday and her giving the same message on a Sunday morning? She is performing the task but not the office of a pastor. This distinction is quite significant. Paul allowed the former, but forbade the latter.
Secondly, Paul’s prohibition that women should not have authority in the church is not absolute either. Paul simply states that alongside the restriction of teaching she cannot have over “a man.” For many, and I would concur, this means that women are permitted to function and serve as children’s pastors, or, even pastors of women; just not over “men.” That this holds true finds support in Paul’s letter to Titus in which he counsels Titus on how to relate to younger and older men and older women. Note that Paul gives no provisions for Titus on how he is supposed to counsel younger women. Presumably, because this would have been inappropriate. Propriety suggests that older women were better served at addressing and ministering to younger women.
It is at this juncture that most evangelical churches would be in agreement with me. They have no problem with women being in authority over women and children. Some refuse to allow a woman to preach on Sunday, but, as we have shown, that does not appear to be what Paul was forbidding. At this point, we could stop and most everyone would be content—though not necessarily in full agreement—with what has been said. Paul seemingly allowed women to teach in various settings and to be in authority over women and children. But, let’s look at the prohibition of women in 1 Tim 2:12-14 to see if there is more.
It is important to observe that the prohibition of women from occupying the office of pastor over men is justified by Paul in 1 Tim 2:13-14. Here he gives two reasons for his prohibition. His first justification is that Adam was formed first (2:13). This is a reference to what is called ‘primogeniture’ (basically: the order of birth or creation). Paul is saying that since Adam was first in creation we are going to establish a rule that man is to be first in the church. Now this appears very concrete. It remains true today that Adam was formed first—in fact, it will remain true forever. Therefore, Paul’s prohibition appears to be based on an abiding principle.
In order, then, to argue that Paul’s prohibition of women being pastors over men was culturally conditioned (that is, it is not necessarily the result of absolutely binding and eternally fixed factors), one would need to contend that the law of primogeniture is not absolute. Well, it is not. There are numerous occasions in which the one who was first was not given the privilege forever: Isaac over Ishmael; Jacob over Esau; Ephraim over Manasseh; Moses over Aaron; David was the youngest in his family.
In addition, primogeniture was culturally bound. In a culture that was intimately tied to land transfers and the allotment of inheritance, it was necessary to impose some standard that determined who was first. In such cultures, it was often essential to not split up the farms equally among all surviving heirs as this would have been detrimental to the long term survival of the clan. In such societies, it was natural to choose the oldest—since the oldest was more likely mature enough to care for the family. After all, younger siblings might even be in need of care themselves. Choosing the oldest as a rule also eliminated or minimized the potential for sibling rivalry. These pragmatic factors made primogeniture a part of the fabric of the biblical world. But, as such, they do not necessarily translate to our contemporary situation. Thus, to say that Paul was saying men can be pastors and women cannot based on an absolute fact that Adam was made first, fails to recognize that his reasoning was based on a culturally accepted practice of primogeniture. For Paul and the early church, this was a valid reason. But it was a reason that was culturally conditioned. And one that does not necessarily translate into all cultures for all time.
The second reason that Paul states to justify his restriction of women from the office of pastor over men is that Eve was the one who was deceived first (1 Tim 2:14). Again it appears that Paul has provided for us a theologically grounded basis for his rule—the fact is that she was deceived first. Though this reasoning seems a bit arbitrary, it was not. Paul’s argument is that Eve, and the women of his day, were more susceptible to deception. Now, this may appear to be a bit sexist.
Before we look at the nature of this assertion we must reflect on the fact that the pastor must keep watch over the flock. In doing so, one of the most central roles of the pastor is to watch over the teaching and beliefs of the church and to guard them against deception (note: the devil’s name is ‘the deceiver’: deception is one of his primary weapons!). Therefore, Paul lays forth an important rule that the pastor must not be one who is more susceptible to deception (I’ll return to this in a moment).
Now, we must ask why it is that Paul deemed that women were more susceptible to deception. For a while, I myself concluded that since Paul stated that women were more susceptible to deception, then it must simply be so. However, more recent studies have revealed (beyond the fact that I was naïve among other things) that there are several causes that make a person more susceptible to deception. Among these factors are such things as age (children are more easily deceived than adults), experience, intelligence, and education (the more educated the less likely to be deceived).
Note that gender is not a factor! Paul was not saying, then, that women by nature were more naturally deceived. Why, then, did Paul say that women were more easily deceived? Considering all the factors that contribute to a person being subject to deception, the only factor that would have been generally, and perhaps almost universally true of women at the time of Paul, is that they were not privileged to the same levels of education as men. As a result, women were, generally speaking, not qualified to serve as pastors because they were not privileged to the same level of education and were, thus, more likely subject to deception. Consequently, it was not their gender that was the problem. Might we conclude that as access to education is made more available to all, including women, that women may qualify to serve as pastors over men?
Paul wasn’t forbidding a woman who lectured on a Wednesday from teaching on Sunday. The educational preparation for women in his day wasn’t present. Now that it is more readily available, it stands to reason that Paul would have been willing to allow women to teach the same message on Sunday that they did on Wednesday and to allow them the authority to lead the entire church.
 Titus 2:1-8.
 Now I am not suggesting that Paul allowed women to be pastors of women in his day because such is an anachronistic thought. It doesn’t appear that they had such roles then. I am suggesting that if Paul were here today in our contemporary western churches he would have had no problem with women being ‘leaders’ of women. You’ll see why below I refrained from using the designation ‘pastor’ here.
 The Greek of 1 Tim 2:13 begins with gar (for) which often states the reason why something is true. That is, Paul is effectively saying, ‘The reason why women cannot be pastors over men is . . . (v 13) and . . . (v 14).
Women and the Kingdom of God
There is no question that Jesus brought the Kingdom of God (KOG). Now, the KOG is in its essence the restoration, redemption, and reconciliation of all creation. Though the kingdom of God is a central focus of Jesus’ teaching, it is in the description of the New Jerusalem in final two chapters of the book of Revelation (21-22) that we find the climax of the kingdom. One of the keys to understanding the Kingdom of God is to note that the description of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21-22 is in accord with the restoration of Eden.
We know that in Eden male and female were created to be equals: “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Gen 1:26-27). The Genesis account unequivocally asserts that both male and female were equally made in the image of God.
Some suggest that the formation of Eve in Genesis 2 asserts that subjugation of women. This, however, is not a good reading of the text. When Genesis is read against the background of the Ancient Near East it is clear that women are not to be relegated to inferiority. For one, the Genesis account is unique in the ancient world in that it describes the formation of women! Other Ancient Near Eastern accounts do not include women in the discussion.
It has been asserted that since according to Gen 2:18 women were made as a helper for men, they must be inferior to men. The text states, “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’”
The problem here is that the designation “helper” does not imply inferiority. In fact, “helper” is used most often to describe God’s (Yahweh’s) relationship to Israel. But God is Israel’s helper because He is stronger. If anything, then, one might suggest that women are superior to men. The context, of course, does not indicate this either. The point being, the Genesis account asserts that both male and female were made in the image of God. There is nothing in the context that suggests that women are inferior.
If, then, the Kingdom of God is the restoration, redemption, and reconciliation of creation, and, if in the original creation male and female were equals, then it stands to reason that in the new creation male and female are equals again.
In addition, if the new creation has begun, which 2 Corinthians 5:17 surely indicates (“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here”), then the church should be at the forefront of advocating for women in the present—both in society and in the church. To deny such is to deny that the new creation has already begun in the life of the people of God.
Some may respond that the NT has plenty of instances in which women are inferior to men. How can this be if the new creation has already begun and women were moving towards equality with men?
First, one must recognize the radical nature of the church and the role of women in it. As mentioned above, in accord with Peter’s citation of Joel, women were equally filled with the Spirit. They were also fulfilling roles as prophetesses and deaconnesses. And women were praying and prophesying in the church. All of this was revolutionary.
I believe that one can easily understand passages in which Paul and the NT writers were putting restrictions on the progress of women in the church as a temporary restraint in light of the cultural conflicts that arose. Simply put, if the church were viewed as too progressive in regards to women, and they likely were in danger of doing so, then it may well have had a negative impact on their witness. As a result, Paul thought it best to reign things in a bit. Thus, when women were to pray and prophesy in the church, Paul says that they should do so with their heads covered (1 Cor 11:3-16). Note that Paul did not forbid women from praying and prophesying in the church—something that many churches do today—but that he simply yielded to the cultural pressures in order to maintain peace with the culture. In other words, Paul decides to lay down this rule in order to not offend beyond what was necessary so that the gospel may proceed.
 Cf Mark 1:14-15. Jesus’ opening announcement in Mark is that the Kingdom of God is at hand!
 Note the presence of the tree of life (Rev 22:2).
 See for example: Exod 18:4; Deut 33:7, 26, 29; Ps 33:20; 115:9-11.
 See below for my response to the notion that Adam was superior simply because he was made first. Primogeniture (being first) does not necessitate superior.
Can women serve equally with men in the church?
Admittedly, the question is multi-faceted and the issues are complex. The complexities include at the most basic level whether or not women can teach in the church at all (including the teaching of children; youth; or, adults—whether that be women only, or both women and men), and whether or not women can have authority in the church and at what level (including authority over children; youth; adults—whether it be women only, or both women and men).
I will argue over this series of posts that with the coming of Christ, his life, death, and resurrection, and the coming of the Spirit, the new creation has begun. This is why Paul can say, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor 5:17). Now, since the new creation is understood in terms of a new Eden, then, just as there was equality of gender, ethnicity, and socio-economics in Eden, so, also, shall there be in the new creation. This is stated explicitly in Galatians 3:28-29 says, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
But, and this will be my main point, if the new creation has already begun in the present, then should we not begin to implement the new creation in the life of the church today? Paul exhorts the church in Colosse to do just that when he says, “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above” (Col 3:1). I don’t suspect anyone would object to the assertion that the key ethic of the kingdom is love and this ethic is to characterize the people of God in the present. Love is indeed eternal (1 Cor 13:4-13). Love is not simply an ideal that is awaiting a future fulfillment. Love is an ethic that must be implemented in the present. The question, then, becomes: should we not do the same when it come to the role of women in the church and in society?
Now, I realize that complementarians (those who believe that men should continue to have authority over women in the church and home) will simply respond that the Bible says so (citing 1 Tim 2:12-14 as the primary text). I will address this passage also. First, however, I will expand on the argument that the NT is clearly moving us towards a new creation reality in which men and women are equals in the kingdom.
Before I venture down that path, I will briefly relate my experiences that caused me to begin to question my long held convictions.
Why I began to reconsider matters
I came to faith in Christ in a wonderful, but very conservative, church environment. As a result the Bible was read as very black and white (aside from the red letters of course!). When it came to women in ministry, I was convinced that the Bible lays it out very concretely: women cannot “teach or have authority over a man” (1 Tim 2:12). Now, I understood this verse allowed women to teach children and other women, but not men. Over the years, in addition to my coming to understand the Scriptures in light of the new creation, the Lord used several experiences that began to nudged me look at things afresh.
First, I had several encounters with women in higher education. In my post-graduate studies I came across numerous articles and books written by women. I wondered to myself at the oddity of it all. These female scholars were great writers and gifted communicators. And their writings reflected a deep passion for the Lord. I thought that it was ironic that I, as a man, could take what they wrote and use it in teaching and preaching, but they themselves, simply because they were women, were not be permitted to do so. I began to wonder why women could teach our emerging pastors in the colleges and seminaries Monday through Friday, but those same women were not allowed to teach our congregations on Sunday? I was puzzled by the reality that their students, who were not as equipped as they were, could preach, but they couldn’t.
A second key factor that caused me to delve more deeply into the Scriptures was the fact that there are many gifted women in our churches. Some of these women are high level leaders, teachers, and even executives in the workplace. Yet, their leadership, teaching, and management skills are suppressed in today’s churches simply because of their gender. If God has gifted them, then why are they not able to use those gifts in the local church?
In a society in which women’s rights are suppressed, should not the church be at the forefront of advocacy for equality? How can we read Gal 3:28 and still advocate for the superiority of one gender above another? The answer is that we can do so only by failing to read Gal 3:28 in regards to the coming of the kingdom.
 The NAU (cited here) says “new creature.” Most English translations (including the ESV, NET, NIV, and NRS) read, “new creation.”
Wives, daughters, mothers, and sisters around the world experience significant oppression. They are, simply because of their gender, routinely deprived of education and other opportunities afforded to men. In some countries, women are forced into unwanted marriages. According to the World Health Organization 35% of women worldwide have experienced either intimate partner violence or non partner sexual violence in their lifetime. One out of every three women have been a victim of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. And it is not just out there. In the United States, one out of every six women will be the victim of an attempted or completed rape.
When all factors are equal, such as experience and education, women working the same jobs as men are paid significantly less than their male counterparts. Gender discrimination goes well beyond pay: it includes a lack of respect. Women often feel less important. They are passed over for promotions or important assignments, and even turned down for a job simply because of their gender. In addition, women are more often harassed than men: 70% of women believe online harassment is a major problem; and that it is often overlooked or dismissed.
If we are appalled at the practice of slavery, then we should be far more appalled at the global treatment of women today. There are as many as ten times more women trafficked in sex slavery today than there we slaves brought to the new world.
Though there are more women in the western and European world today, and though they tend to live longer lives, demographers have estimated that there are between 60 and 100 million missing women from societies due to infanticide of female babies. In many countries girls are aborted far more frequently than boys.
For evangelicals who are so radically concerned with the abortion issue, why are we not speaking up! This is not what God intended! It is time for the church to stand up and cry out at the injustices brought upon our wives, our daughters, our mothers, and our sisters.
Women in the church
Women have played a prominent role in the church for centuries. Historically women have been the majority members of the church. The large female membership likely stemmed in part from the early church's informal and flexible organization offering significant roles to women.
When we look at the New Testament we learn that women held prominent roles in the early church: including, the evangelist Priscilla, the deaconness Phoebe, and Philip’s daughters that prophesied. Luke portrays Mary in the posture of a disciple when he notes that she was sitting at the feet of Jesus. Women were prominent in the resurrection accounts of all four gospels. The letter to the Corinthians indicates that women were praying and prophesying in church.
It appears that the hallmark of the new covenant is that men and women will equally receive the Spirit. Thus, Peter’s citation of Joel: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy” (Acts 2:17-18).
When we read of women taking on such prominent roles, we must recognize that this was radically counter-cultural. The church was blazing a trail that had not been much trodden.
When we look at the church today, however, women are often consigned to a second-place status: a second-place that is often a significant distance from first. Why, then, if the NT consistently elevates the role of women, do most churches relegate them to an inferior status?
In this series of posts, I will contend that women play a significant role in the NT because in the new covenant God is restoring His creation which includes the equality of gender and race. Hence, Gal 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
 Two out of three of the world’s illiterates are women. See: https://www.savethechildren.org/us/what-we-do/global-programs/education/girls-education.
 One third of the world’s girls are married before they are 18. One of every nine women are married before they turn 15. See: https://www.icrw.org/child-marriage-facts-and-figures/.
 See: https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/violence-against-women.
 See: https://ncadv.org/learn-more/statistics.
 See: https://www.rainn.org/statistics/victims-sexual-violence.
 Cf Acts 18. Note in 18:18, 26, Rom 16:13, and 2 Tim 4:19 her name precedes that of her husband suggesting strongly that she has a more prominent role. 1 Cor 16:19 is an exception where Aquila appears first, but this only makes one wonder more why Priscilla (or Prisca) is listed first in every other occasion.
 Rom 16:1 appears to call Phoebe a deaconess. Though most translations use ‘servant’ here. The calling out of Phoebe itself suggests someone of note. Grammatical considerations also lend towards her being a deacon. Some contend that the masculine “deacon” is used and not the feminine “deaconness” but it does not appear that the feminine “deaconness” had to come into use yet.
 Acts 21:18-19: they are called prophetesses. One must remember that a prophet in the NT is more than one who receives oracles from the Lord. But they are often associated with teaching and exhorting. Cp Paul’s contrast of those who speak in tongues vs those who prophesy in Acts 14.
 Luke 10:39.
 1 Cor 11:5.