Friday, January 28, 2011

Women In Ministry (And A Definition of Prophecy)

Scripture references from F.G. Smith's "What The Bible Teaches."

Equality of Men and Women In The Church: In Old Testament, some women rose to prominence, such as Deborah (Judges 4). Christ delivered one of his greatest sermons to one woman (Jn. 4).  A woman was the first messenger of the resurrection.  Paul recognized equality of men and women (Gal. 3:28).

Women in official positions: As deaconess (Rom. 16:1). This position was a public position; those who held it were ordained by the laying on of the Apostles' hands (1Tim 3: 8-13 with Acts 6: 1-6).
As Ministers- Priscilla and Aquilla (Acts 18:26). Anna preached the first sermon concerning Christ (Lk. 2: 36-38). The Samaritan woman proclaimed Christ so that Samaritans beleived (Jn. 4:39).  The Holy Spirit was poured out on men and women at Pentecost and they all prophesied (Acts 2).  Philip's daughters prophesied (Acts 21: 8-9). What is prophesy? To speak forth, to tell out the message or the mysteries of God.  The gift of prophecy is to understand all mysteries, all knowledge (1Cor. 13:2) of God. These are spiritually discerned (1Cor. 2: 7-14) To preach the Gospel under the Spirit's inspiration is to proclaim the hidden wisdom, or the mysteries of God-to prophesy (1Cor. 14:3).  Prophecy is the public proclamation of the Gospel (1Cor. 14: 23-25) when the Church is in one place (verses 23-24). Joel prophesied the pouring out of the Spirit on men and women (Joel 2: 28-29) and Peter declared that at Pentecost this prophecy was fulfilled (Acts 1: 14-15, 2: 4, 14-18). Paul spoke of women as "fellow laborers," laborers together on the same plane and the same work (Phil. 4:3).  The words of Tertullian: "Together they pray, together prostrate themselves, together perform their fasts; mutually teaching, mutually exhorting, mutually sustaining. Equal are they both found in the Church of God." Part IV, Book II, Chap. 8.

Exceptions based on the reality of cross-cultural ministry (1Cor. 9: 20-23).  In pagan areas, women were considered inferior, so in that situation women were to keep silent in Church (1Cor. 14: 34).

1Tim 2: 11-15 does not cover women's official positions in the Church but the relationship between a wife and her husband.  In domestic matters the husband is the head of the wife (Eph. 5:23). The husband is not the head of the wife in spiritual matters, but Christ is the head of both (Eph. 5: 23-24). Wives ought to obey God rather than men.  Sapphira was accountable directly to God, not to her husband, in a matter which concerned the Church.      

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