Monday, March 17, 2008

A Biblical Primer On Women in Ministry (Part 2)

This seven part series, written by a graduate of Southwestern Theological Seminary, is intended to stir conversation among conservative evangelicals on the subject of women in ministry. I am currently reading "Women in the Church" by Kostenberger and Schreiner, and this guest blog series offers a counter view to that classic complementarian work. Proponents on both sides of this issue view Scripture as the inspired, inerrant Word of God. The goal of dialogue is to realize it is unnecessary to make women in ministry a test of Christian fellowship. Some of you may recall that Steve Harmon was up for a position on the theology faculty at Southwestern in the mid-1990's. He was recommended by Tommy Lea and Ken Hemphill. When interviewed by a group of trustees Harmon expressed appreciation for the Chicago statement on inerrancy. But, when asked about his position on women in ministry, he indicated that his understanding of the Bible allowed females to serve in ministry positions. The trustees then said that, because of Harmon's position on females in ministry, he did not believe in the inerrancy of the Scriptures despite what he said. Harmon was out and he was labelled in print as a young man who didn't believe the Bible. He is now a fine instructor at Campbell University Divinity School. Southern Baptists need to realize that we will continue to lose the best and the brightest if we do not come to the realization that the women in ministry issue has conservative proponents on BOTH sides of the issue.

Part 1: History and Confessions

Part 2: Priesthood of the Believer

Any consideration of the significance of ordination must be set in the broad context of the doctrine of the priesthood of believers. We believe that Jesus Christ is our great High Priest. On the cross he was both priest and sacrifice. Now he is interceding for us at the Father’s right hand.

Nowhere in the New Testament is any Christian called a priest (iereus).There are, however, five texts in the New Testament (each of which is based on Exodus 19:6) which indicate that all believers have the standing of a priest before God. This doctrine speaks to the personal immediacy in that every believer has in relation to Christ.

Paige Patterson has concluded that the universal priesthood of believers implies certain important truths. Among these are: 1) it guarantees direct (or immediate) access for the believer to God, 2) it demands responsible service by the believer to the Lord, and 3) it emphasizes the evangelistic assignment of every believer for the Lord. The priesthood of all believers does not reduce the role of all believers does not reduce the role (or the need) of a representative leadership. It calls for the priesting of all believers, not the laicizing of all leaders.

Martin Luther made the priesthood of all believers a touchstone for the true Church and a mark of the Reformation’s faithfulness to an original Christianity too long subverted. Looking back across millennia in which the Church in Rome had come to distinguish sharply between clergy and laity, the Reformers could find no scriptural basis for this development.

In the New Testament there is no evidence of vocational difference. The New Testament word for clergy (kleros) refers not to a special order among Christians, but to all Christians. And the word for laity (laos) refers not to the pew-warming part of the congregation but to all Christians. All are called to one service, and all alike are God’s people. “And you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people (laos), that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

It is, of course, true that there were leaders and teachers, but they did no more than set forth the Biblical truth of every Christian’s obligation. An assembly of believers will select other believers to be their leader, but those people are priests only as are those who selected them. Since all Christians are priests before God, God’s requirements and expectations are the same for all.

This new idea of believer communities called for a new pattern of leadership. The key concept in the structuring of the new communities was to be service, diachonia. Service to God was no longer the prerogative of Levitic priest, but was to be the privilege of all believers. Jesus Christ had not only established a new community, but had set the example of perfect service. Just as voluntary humility (submissiveness) was typified by Jesus (Phil. 2:5-8), so also should all who take His name have the same spirit (Phil. 2:3-5). There was to be a mutuality of service, diachonia, pervading the body of Christ. “As each has received a gift, employ [diachonoutes] it for another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Pet. 4:10).

The principle of mutual humility and service among believers is reflected in the vocabulary chosen by the New Testament writers. Words in secular Greek for civil and religious authorities are consistently avoided with regard to the ministries of the church. Time, for example, is used in secular Greek to describe the honor and dignity of office. Not once is it used of office holding in the New Testament, nor are arche or archon used in reference to leadership in the Christian community. Arche, always implies a primacy whether in time (“beginning,” “first principle”) or in rank (“power,” “authority,” “office”), means, in connection with office, a leading, a precedence or rule. The Septuagint does use the word in secular contexts and in religious ones. The New Testament uses it for Jewish and Gentile authorities and in a different sense for Christ (Col. 1:16), but never for Church ministries of any sort. Similarly the title archon (ruler, prince) is used for demonic powers, Roman and Jewish officials, and also for Christ (Rev. 1:5, “ruler of the kings of the earth”), but never for offices in the Church.
Words used of in Old Testament (iereus, leitoupyos) are likewise avoided in connection with the office of individuals in the Christian communities. Michael Green notes:

“It is simply staggering in view of the background of these New Testament writers, steeped as they were in the priestly system of the Old Testament, that never once do they use the word hiereus of the Christian minister. The Aaronic analogy for their ministry lay obviously to hand. But they refused to use it. It is hard to overrate the significance of this point when we notice that they did use it of the whole Christian community.”

Therefore, every believer is a priest before God. Each may enter the Father’s presence through faith in Christ alone. Each is also responsible to share his or her faith in a personal ministry. The New Testament church did not ordain people to positions of authority, (as we shall see more of later) but designated all people to the ministry of service.

Galatians 3:28

One of the most repeated arguments from the less informed opponents of women in ministry or ordained positions is that, “Jesus was a man and He chose twelve men to be his disciples. Therefore, only men should be ordained by church as its spiritual leaders.” Note, however, that the twelve included no Gentiles, nor no slaves, yet the New Testament church became predominately made up of slave and Gentiles - and women!

Primary in the meaning of the priesthood of all believers is the standing of the believer before God as a mature son with all of the attendant rights and privileges which sonship entails. Although it took time, most of the New Testament church leaders finally came, through the help of the Spirit, to realize that God makes no distinction between persons. God favors no person over another. God rejects no one who comes to God. In Galatians 3:26-28: “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no ‘male and female’; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” In the Greek text arsen kai thelu (“male and female”) is more of an interruption than English translations would indicate. These words are the technical terms from Genesis 1:27 “male and female created he them,” and their technical character is clear as they are not the ordinary words for “man” and “woman” but actually “male and female.” The conjunction “and” also interrupts the “neither/nor” series. We therefore have good reason to put “male and female” in quotation marks. Paul shows that the Law has been transcended in Christ at the following points: (1) the boundary line between Jews and Greeks has been abolished, the wall of partition which God himself had risen through the Law. (2) The boundary line between slave and free, which also is well attested in the Law, is overcome. (3) And, finally, the most primary division of God’s creation is overcome, that between male and female – the terminology points directly back to Genesis 1:27 and in the direction of man as the image of God, beyond the division into male and female.

Frank Stagg has characterized Galatians as Paul’s “free manifesto.” In this letter Paul rejects bondage to the Mosaic law in favor of the freedom for which Christ freed us (Gal. 5:1). The cultic right of circumcision is not to be imposed upon anyone who knows the freedom of living by faith (3:11-14). Our common humanity and oneness in Christ are not to be obscured by such secondary distinctions as ethnic identity, legal status, or sexuality, for “there is not any Jew nor Greek, not any slave nor free, not any male and female; for ye all are one in Christ Jesus” (v. 28). This text does not deny the reality of sexual difference any more than it denies the reality of distinctions that are ethnic (Jew and Greek) or legal (slaves and free persons). There are such distinctions, but so far as our being “in Christ” is concerned, being male or female is not a proper agenda item.


ml said...

"Words in secular Greek for civil and religious authorities are consistently avoided with regard to the ministries of the church."

I am not sure of the complete accuracy of this statement. While word usage concerning power is obviously radically different between the Christian community and the secular ancient Greek and modern American society, conceptually there are similarities in terms of leadership and character qualities. For example, it is commonly known that the vice and virtue code listed for the "office" of deaconai is strikingly similar to the characteristics essential for a quality Roman military officer.

Just a slight clarification.

Anonymous said...

With each installment I look forward to the next.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing the lengths that people go to in order to justify what they want when scripture clearly says something different.

And daily we see prophecy fulfilled..."For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear."

Anonymous said...

The exegesis of Galatians 3:28 is eye-wateringly bad. It is known to be a reversal of a Talmudic prayer but the writer never mentions this - as though Paul sat thinking of divisions that the church should be doing away with. That the verse is nothing to do with leadership roles is plain from the context of the letter which is not about leadership (cf. Timothy).

And, btw, why would God want to 'overcome the division' of male and female in creation when it was His idea in the first place for life in this world?

Such an exegesis makes a mockery of the idea that the writer is a conservative who believes in inerrancy. On a similar basis you could argue that the Jehovah's Witnesses are conservatives believing in inerrancy. It means nothing to say you believe the Bible and then twist it to achieve goals it clearly never intended.

Culturally and personally I would LIKE to believe in the validity of female leadership roles. It's just that God knows better and I accept that - together with a lot of other stuff where He knows best.

Debbie Kaufman said...

sbreader, robert: My first question to both of you would be, what if you are wrong in your exegesis? The other question would be, why do you believe this is such a big deal if you do disagree? Isn't the goal for all of us, men and women, to do the Great Commission? If I feel in my heart that God wants me to go and do a certain area of ministry or deed, seeing nothing in scripture to the contrary, and you as a man tell me I can't, who do you think I'm going to listen to? Why tie us down even though you may disagree? I'm not disagreeing with scripture which I treasure, I'm disagreeing with your interpretation of scripture, knowing that you believe in scripture and are born again. Why can't you feel the same?

Rex Ray said...

You asked SB blogger and Robert a question that’s so simple it probably just went in their ears and out the other side.

The same question could be asked of an atheist…“what if you are wrong?”

While the atheist looses his soul, the thinking of blogger and Robert looses the blessing of Jesus when he asked Christians to be united in accomplishing the Gospel to be told to all.

Anonymous said...

Deb, What if the bible means exactly what it says? What if Paul meant exactly what he said in 1 Corinthians 14?

While I disagree with people who don't believe the bible, I generally still respect them. But I don't usualy have a lot of time for people who tap dance around, and twist the text to make it say what they want.

Deb, I'm not tying you down. You're free to go and do what you want. I would respect your argument more if you just said you didn't necessairly believe the bible was relevant in some areas anymore. Instead of twisting it to say something contrary to what is clearly printed in it.

WatchingHISstory said...

It is a matter of speculation on my part but what do you do for ten days waiting for the 'promise of the Father' in the upper room. You testify over and over in 'show and tell' fashion. Everyone, and whenevery male has exposed and exhausted his last memory of text, right before the fire fell(Pentecostal expression) on the assembly, Mary rose among the women at the rear of the room and witrh veil in hand and her head covered she gave a testimony that no male could give. The Son of God had slid down her birth canal and she could say things no written text had ever said. She alone had thoughts no male could utter. She had pondered the deep mysteries of God as no council of ordained males had ever done and will ever do. Not everything about God has been written. There is not enough ink and not enough paper.

I believe when she spoke the power fell, just like my mother!

Who's your mother!

Charles Page

WatchingHISstory said...

Oh, another speculation. When Peter went to Cornelius' house (he and all his male counterparts, skeptics included) and preached his short interrupted sermon. Probally the best sermon that was ever to be preached by a male was just a few words when IMO a precious young servant girl in Cornelius' house was given a ppl (public prayer language) and fighting to constrain herself not for religiously Hebrew traditions but of humble cast her lips trembled and falteringly she studdered unintelligent speech. Embarrassed, Cornelius wished his household would behave while Peter spoke but no, others joined in and soon, even as Peter was speaking there was divine confusion as even Cornelius was speaking. (confusion is not ordained of God but divine confusion is when male minds cannot figure it out)

Of course skeptical Hebrew males were present and they looked at each other in disbelief. They reasoned correctly which is a rarety in a male dominated society.

Anonymous said...

WOW! I have not seen tap dancing like that since Sammy Davis Jr. died.

Wade, are you really going to publish 5 more of these monstrosities? The Pentecostals and Charasmatics may be with you on this one... but I don't think many Southern Baptists are buying what you are peddling. Some might have been with you at first, when it seemed like you were speaking for the disenfrachised. But it is becoming increasingly clearer what you truly seek.

Joe W.

Lin said...

"What if Paul meant exactly what he said in 1 Corinthians 14?"

Blogger, Would you mind telling me where I can find the 'law' Paul refers to in verse 34. I cannot find it in scripture.

"As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says." said...

Joe W.

It may be foreign to your way of thinking, but I am uninterested in whether or not people are 'with me' (as you put it).

I am only concerned grace and truth - in that order. And, by the way, I happen to be a complementarian like you.

In His Grace,


Tom Parker said...

sb blogger,

Do you find the NT parts of the Bible referencing slavery relevant to today.?

Anonymous said...

Wade, today's quote from the Dallas Morning News Religion Blog:

A right answer has never picked up a frightened child, or put an ice chip in the mouth of a dying friend. A right answer has never written a check to the Red Cross, or pried up stinking linoleum from a kitchen floor in the ninth ward of New Orleans. A right answer has never even showed up at the polls to vote on election day, or taken to the streets in peaceful protest. It kind of makes you wonder why religious people spend so much time vetting each other on right answers, when the truth is that a right answer alone never changed a thing."

Barbara Brown Taylor, preacher and author

Appreciate your work, but your attitude even more.

Ron Fisher

truth, not religion said...

Ok, since there are always some that toss around the phrase "the Bible says what is says" (and other such phrases)

On authority: JESUS HIMSELF SAID MK 10:42 “Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all."

Notice Jesus told the church leaders they WOULD NOT EXERCISE AUTHORITY OVER THE SHEEP?

For centuries, while following catholic doctrine, many (most) church MEN have said that women can't pastor because of the authority issue. (on the verse of women teaching, see Bible times teachings on temple prostitutes)


Ok, for those who argue, "but the Bible doesn't give us an example of women pastors".

So, didn't you learn in seminary that you cannot use arguments from silence?


See, I didn't find that in Scripture.

No NT church buildings, no pews, no oyster crackers and grape juice, no electric lights in a house of worship, no pastors on salary, no piano’s, no youth ministers, no alter calls, no passing of tithing plate, no CP, no NT Sunday school.





Oh, by the way, I never said I support women in ministry, I just gave you some food for thought.


Anonymous said...

Robert, you ask, "And, btw, why would God want to 'overcome the division' of male and female in creation when it was His idea in the first place for life in this world?"

Could it be that God created the difference for good, but through sin, we human beings corrupted it into a "dividing wall" based on something other than what God intended? (I would say the "something" was prejudice and/or chauvinism, but you don't have to agree with that in order to agree that the "division" became something other than what God intended.) Frankly, if you take sin seriously, and understand it (as do I) as missing the mark of fellowship with God, I can think of little, if anything, that sin has nott changed or corrupted to some degree.

I do not ask in order to be antagonistic; I seriously would like to engage you on the issue.

John Fariss

Unknown said...

I think this is amusing,

What if your wrong?
How could you slight me like that debbie? I know I'm right since I have some sort of private revelation that you do not have or are ignoring.

(Disclaimer: the above translation is meant to be humorous and to point out an absurdity and not meant to disparage any particular party)

that's surprising, I didn't know that there was a vice and virtue code for roman officers considering what went on in some of those legions. I guess vice and virtue is usually culturally determined.

Jeff said...

It appears to me that the author of this piece has a little more insight to church history than most--his point about the early church not ordaining its members to vocational service as we routinely do is right on target.

I've been reading Viola and Barna's book, "Pagan Christianity." Trust me, it is not for the traditional Southern Baptist. With a scholarly approach and impeccable references (there are as many footnotes on each page as there is material) they show just how far we've missed the mark with, well, just about everything that happens in our churches, whether they are traditional, contemporary, or emergent.

So, not just for this discussion, but for any discussion over what we consider as "the clear teaching of Scripture," we might want to get a grasp on why our view of that "clear teaching" is so influenced by things and traditions that may have never been intended to be a part of the body of Christ. And while I don't even pretend to agree with Viola or Barna's take on many things, the evidence they present makes a strong case that we've probably been missing the mark since Constantine.

Would love to hear from some of you if you've read any of "Pagan Christianity."


R. L. Vaughn said...

"So, didn't you learn in seminary that you cannot use arguments from silence?"

Truth, not religion, perhaps the seminaries have it wrong. THE BIBLE DOES NOT SAY, "NO BABY SHALL SHALL BE BAPTIZED". Must we have a negative command for everything we don't do?

truth, not religion said...


no it doesn't, however, Jesus set the tone, HE WAS AN ADULT.

yours is a weak assertion to try to counter what i said.

since Christ said "except you come unto me as little children" and He said, "do not hinder these little ones from coming to me" and the word says "before you formed me in the womb", and the Word says, "as I nursed at my mothers breast, yo taught me your ways..........

We can see that infants and the young know of Christ.

Romans says that all creation groans with the expectation of.........

you get the picture (maybe)

We have gotten so far away from leading folks to christ.

Since children know of him, and since baptism is not a requirement for salvation, it is a moot point in response to my previous point.

Arguments from silence:

added language;;;distorted language;;;

example, the bible says "husband of one wife" OR DOES IT?

We have been taught the Bible says "God hates divorce." Is that really what it says?

When it says "husband of one wife, the word "only" is infered but is not in the text. couldn't you translate it "at least".

Why not? If we take the liberty to add words to the text that are not there, who gets to say which ones are right or wrong?

Once again, it is a Doctrine of Convience.

Our society is full of things (sins) we have added to church, society and doctrine that the Bible didn't say .

The Bible doesn't say drinking alchohol is wrong but we say it is. It doesn't say that gambling is wrong but we say it is. it doesn't say playing the lottery is wrong but we say it is.

Think how many millions of dollars of CP money has been spent on pet political/social projects.

Christ told to us to make disciiples, not be political social activists with the money given to make disciples.


WE could feed and house every homeless person in the whole country if we got off our social/political wagon and followed "I was hungry and you fed me".

Nope, we would rather fight, attack and create enemies than take al He has given us and do what He said.



Gary said...

Wow! Such dialog!

If we exegete 1 Corinthians "exactly as it is written" and move on to 1 Timothy 2:8-15 "exactly as written", then we are really running outside the lane in our current society. Especially the 1 Timothy passage speaks little or not at all about "where" the women are supposed to not have braided hair, no gold, to keep quiet, and not have 'authority of men'.

Let's see, what was it that Paul said about Timothy's mother and grand-mother? Hmmmm.

It would seem that if we exegete these verses in a vacuum, we certainly need to decide when a boy becomes a man and that we'd better start recruiting men for our Sunday Schools.

But I digress.

Why do our wives wear gold? Why do they have "braided hair"? Is it because we as MEN are weak? Or perhaps we must 'rightly divide the word of truth' for our generation?

Just asking. You all go back to your motes and timbers.

Norman, OK

greg.w.h said...

The part of Section 2 that I find the most annoying is the paragraph that includes "uninformed". That paragraph contains a classic strawman fallacy and the use of "uninformed" is basically namecalling plastered on the strawman.

That makes the whole presentation unnecessarily confrontational. I think it's more helpful to be consistently and persistently "explanational" (coining a new word there) when you want to change how people think.

In fact, people have to go through a process very similar to the grief process that Dr. Kubler-Ross observed among terminally ill patients when they change their thinking. The history of science gives MANY examples of how hard it is to shift the paradigm away from old thoughts to new ones.

A specific example is the effort to retain the concept of circular orbits of the planets around the sun. When the evidence disagreed with the theory, an effort was first made to add circles on the circles to help explain why it took more time to traverse some areas than others. Copernicus finally figured out it was an ellipse rather than circular motion.

Similarly acceptance of the Gospel--according to the Bible--starts with hearing it, so other attempts to change minds must start with an explanation. I see the Bible also supporting the involvement of the Holy Spirit in "preparing the soil" so to speak. And it's hard to understand the parable of the four soils (aka parable of the sower) without wondering how the four results match up to--for instance--stricter variants of the doctrines of grace.

I think explanation by the author is intended more than confrontation. But the little word "uninformed" leaves me wondering.


Sorry, I can hear what you're saying because I have a banana in my ear, and I can't see what you mean because I've got a bad case of plankeye.



R. L. Vaughn said...


While pronouncing mine "a weak assertion", I think you have actually agreed with my point, if I have waded through all the rhetoric correctly. We do not need negative commands for everything we do not do, but positive commands for what we do. We refuse to baptize babies, even though the Bible is "silent" in saying not to. We don't baptize them because the Bible teaches us whom we should baptize, and it doesn't include them. It must be determined if the "argument from silence" is really "silence" after all.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Greg, I believe the "uninformed" section to which you refer is the one about male apostles. Is that correct? Here is some possible food for thought.

Awhile back I formed 5 explanations (not saying that there could not be more) of why Jesus chose apostles only from the male gender:
1. Only men were allowed to hold the position.
2. Jesus was not ready to confront the social mores of the His day.
3. Jesus made a practical decision based on the times in which He lived.
4. Jesus chose the twelve as individuals (and, therefore, their gender is not relevant).
5. Jesus choosing all male apostles is completely irrelevant.

The application of these (above, by number) might be:
1. No females in leadership roles.
2. No females in leadership roles if it is socially unacceptable.
3. Females in leadership roles as practicality allows.
4. Females in leadership roles with no exclusions nor exceptions.
5. Whatever.
[6. No female apostles.]

Anonymous said...

Junia- A woman apostle

There are three strikes against this being a masculine name. One, the early church interpreted it as feminine. Two, it is a Latin name and would not have been changed into Junias in the Greek. Three, Junia is found only as a female name in antiquity.

The King James Version accurately translates Romans 16:7 as “ . . .Junia of note among the apostles.” The New American Standard Bible translates Romans 16:7 as “ . . .Junia . . .prominent among the apostles.” However, many modern translations and paraphrases fall prey to male bias and misogyny and render the text as a male name. The New International Version says “Greet Junias . . .outstanding among the apostles.” The Living Bible murders the text of Romans 16:7 with “ . . .Junia . . .respected by the apostles.” Other modern translations engage in mental gymnastics and add several of their own words. In the phrase, “They . . . (said to be) outstanding among the apostles”, they substitute the word “by” the apostles, changing the word “among” and adding the other four words, “said to be by” that are not in the Greek text. We are not to add words to scripture that are not there! For the meaning “by”, Paul would have used one of two totally different Greek words: para or pros, rather then using an en that implies selection from within the group.

I studied Koine and Classical Greek. In the class on textual criticism, it was pointed out that translation committees were not evenly balanced or free of denominational bias. The fundamentalists and conservative Baptist Greek scholars would not concede in the face of overwhelming historical and textual evidence that the Junia was a female apostle, and their vote outnumbered other committee members. So they left Junias at Romans 16:7. Equally, a committee loaded with neo-orthodox theologians insisted that Isaiah 7:14 should not be rendered “ . . .the Lord himself will give a sign. The Virgin will be with child”, but that “ . . .a young woman will be with child” (New English Bible). I never could comprehend how the Lord’s sign of the Messiah would be a young woman with a child. Young women have children all the time.

Dr. Bruce Metzger was undoubtedly the greatest Greek textual authority of modern times. Dr. Metzger confessed that in the Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, (second edition, p. 421), that the UBS Committee made the ruling to make Romans 16:7 read Junias based on the gender assumption imposed on the text by members of the committee who were of Baptist and Calvinistic persuasion, who dumped their pejorative denominational baggage on the text.. Why, why, why-because to be faithful to the text would have meant the loss of your job or standing in the denomination. Shame, shame.

Committees and individuals engage in subtle scripture twisting to accommodate their cultural biases or male chauvinism. That Junia was a woman apostle and a prominent one is just too much for their fragile male egos. That Junia was a woman apostle is not some kind of liberal feminist revision of scripture. It is only a proper hermeneutical principle to interpret Paul’s reference to her as an apostle, and that was the unanimous consensus until the 13th Century. All the Greek texts, manuscripts, and early documents of Christianity say she was a female apostle.

I challenge anyone to argue on historical, theological, textual, philological, or on the basis of Greek grammar that Junia was not a female apostle. Your argument will die inch by inch the death of a thousand qualifications. Scholars, pastors, and theologians respond with a deafening silence. They choose to teach the traditions of men and leave their women buried in the tombs of tradition.

Yes, my friend, there is no denying the role of women in the New Testament church. Indeed, there was a woman apostle by the name of Junia, and she was a prominent leading apostle. Apostles performed miracles, signs, wonders, preached, taught, cast out demons, planted churches, presided over the Eucharist, and instructed men and women. There is no wiggle room. Macho men have to die to self and allow what Jesus and Paul allowed, for women to minister. Let me send all the men t-shirts that say, “Get Over It!” The male bastion of bigotry towards women is crumbling. It is only a poisoned pot of pharisaical legalism that enslaves women and shackles them to male dominance. Weak men cannot handle strong women.

The preponderance of evidence declares that in the New Testament church, women served as apostles, teachers, evangelists, missionaries, and prophetesses. Men, don’t give me your opinion, give me your scholarship that says otherwise.

In Roman culture, the woman was in charge of the house. Is it no wonder that house churches in the New Testament were often led by women?17 Colossians 4:15 says, “. . . .and to Nymphia and the church in her house.” Once again, we know from the early church Fathers that Nymphia was a woman leading a house church teaching and preaching to males and females. It is a sad sordid story that male exegetes deceitfully
changed her name to Nymphas. Thankfully, the feminine norm has been restored in many new translations.18

What about Prisca? She is mentioned six times in scripture and helped to start three house churches, presiding over them. Just imagine starting three churches at one time when you could be flogged, stoned, expelled, or imprisoned for doing so.

What about Mary Magdalene. She is called in early church writings “an apostle to the apostles.” Hippolytes, a conservative priest of the Third Century in Rome, also designated Mary as the first apostle in his commentary on “Song of Songs”. Mary Magdalene had a prominent role in the early church and spread the gospel through preaching and teaching.19 Case closed.

What are men afraid of? The truth? On what basis do men say women should not preach or teach? When you boil it all down, it is their tradition, cultural erroneous teaching absorbed from Western Society or sometimes raw carnal male ego. Some men have tried to make their case by saying, in essence, that the early church Fathers and patristic writers were simply mistaken in their belief that Junia was a woman. They assert that Giles got it right and adding the “s” restored the real meaning to the text that Junias was a man. That ignores the evidence from Greek literature that Junia was a woman’s name, and that in Latin writing, Junia is a fairly common female name whereas Junias is nonexistent. Since Paul was writing to the church in Rome that spoke Latin, it is safe to assume that Junia was a woman. The evidence is lopsided in favor of a female apostle.

That doesn’t stop some theologians who surmise that Junias is a nickname, a shortening of a Latin name such as Junianus. However, Grenz rightly asserts that Latin nicknames are longer than their counterparts, not shorter.20 Others have fumbled around searching for textual variants to build a case for a man, Junias. The important papyrus, P. 46, along with a few later minor manuscripts from the old Latin versions, 4th and 5th Centuries A.D., all read “Ioulian”. “Ioulian” is a feminine name equivalent to our Julia. The textual variants all support the interpretation of Junia as a female apostle.

The scholars who stick to Junias refuse to admit the historical fact that Giles added the “s” in the 13th Century. In the face of the facts, they hold to a position that they are better suited than the early church Fathers to decide that Junia was a man. They are so bold to conclude that they see nothing in Romans 16:7 or church history that challenges the complementarian position for all-male leadership within the church.21 Church history and Romans 16:7 does not challenge all-male leadership, it renders it obsolete. Women were pastors, prophetesses, apostles, teachers, and missionaries in the New Testament church, and it continued until the 13th Century. Period!

The corruption of Romans 16:7 has some curious twists and turns. How did the King James translation get it right that Junia was a woman apostle?

In the late 4th Century, Pope Damascus I commissioned Jerome to produce an authorized text. By 400 C.E., Jerome had produced a standard text in Latin, the Latin Vulgate. Latin was the common or vulgar language of the people, hence, the title Latin Vulgate. Jerome, using a variety of Greek texts, correctly identified the apostle in Romans 16:7 as a female although he used the variant name “Julian” (Julia).22

Erasmus deserves a good share of the credit for bringing Junia’s name to light. Erasmus produced a landmark Greek version of the New Testament in 1516. Erasmus was at the forefront of a movement to study the original languages. Their slogan was, Ad fontes! (To the sources!).23 He used the Textus Receptus to identify the apostle of Romans 16:7 as Junia, prominent female apostle. Erasmus used Greek sources rather than corrupt Latin texts. He notes that “Julian” in the Latin Vulgate should read “Junia”. He noted that Paul gave the woman “Julia” her own place later in Romans 16. Erasmus also adds a postscript to the 1527 translation that a very old codex provided by the Church of Constance that agreed with the Greek manuscripts that he had consulted in Romans 16:7. For the next 250 years, variations of the Textus Receptus were the standard Greek sources of the Bible.

Martin Luther, the Reformer, was a contemporary of Erasmus and said that women had wide hips. God created them that way because they belonged at home. Luther ignored Erasmus’s Greek translation and chose the male name, “den Juniam”. Later, Luther embellished this view in his letters to the Romans by claiming that Romans 16:7 said, “Greet Andronicus and Junias of the Junian Family, men of note among the apostles.24

The effect of Luther’s mistaken reading of Junia’s name multiplied over time. John Thorley, British scholar, says that subsequent translations of Romans leaned on the masculine interpretation of Junia’s name because of Luther’s influence, which is why the male name cropped up again in English translations in the 1800’s.25

Here is what apparently caused Junia’s disappearance during modern times. Publishers of standardized Greek texts that were used by ministers and scholars included the female name from 1898 to 1920. In 1927, the International Nestle Translation committee arbitrarily changed it to a man’s name, Junias, with no notes of explanation. The men suffered from textual deafness. They could not believe that a woman could have been an apostle.

(This was written by a male ThD. Judge the content)

B Nettles said...

Greg said Copernicus finally figured out it was an ellipse rather than circular motion. was Kepler. And even then, it wasn't until Tycho Brahe had taken better data (less measurement uncertainty) than anyone had achieved before. The heliocentric circles and epicycles of Copernicus did NOT explain the motions of the planets and sun and moon any better than the Ptolemaic system to within the measurement uncertainties.

Armed with Tycho's data, Kepler showed that circular orbits didn't work, whether geocentric or heliocentric. Then he had to find the curve that DID work. In the meantime, Newton had already mathematically determined that his gravity "law" would lead to elliptical orbits. It was Edmund Halley (of Halley's comet fame) who connected the dots between Kepler and Newton.

Still, supporting your argument about reluctant change in science, Galileo distrusted Kepler's results, believing firmly that only circular orbits were "natural."

Ah, tradition. It's a dangerous handmaiden (or should I say footman?).

Anonymous said...

Junia - A woman apostle? Don't think so...

Barnes notes...
"My kinsmen - In Rom_9:3, the apostle calls “all” the Jews “his kinsmen,” and it has been doubted whether he means anything more here than that they were “fellow Jews.” But as many others who were Jews are mentioned here without this appellation, and as he especially designates these persons, and Herodian Rom_16:11, it seems probable that they were remote relatives of the apostle.

My fellow-prisoners - Paul was often in prison; and it is probable that on some of those occasions they had been confined with him; compare 2Co_11:23, “In prisons more frequent.”

Who are of note - The word translated “of note” ἐπίσημοι episēmoi, denotes properly those who are “marked,” designated, or distinguished in any way, used either in a good or bad sense; compare Mat_27:16. Here it is used in a good sense.

Among the apostles - This does not mean that they “were” apostles, as has been sometimes supposed. For,
(1) There is no account of their having been appointed as such.
(2) the expression is not one which would have been used if they “had” been. It would have been “who were distinguished apostles;” compare Rom_1:1; 1Co_1:1; 2Co_1:1; Phi_1:1.
(3) it by no means implies that they were apostles All that the expression fairly implies is, that they were known to the other apostles; that they were regarded by them as worthy of their affection and confidence; that they had been known by them, as Paul immediately adds, before “he” was himself converted. They had been converted “before” he was, and were distinguished in Jerusalem among the early Christians, and honored with the friendship of the other apostles.
(4) the design of the office of “apostles” was to bear “witness” to the life, death, resurrection, doctrines, and miracles of Christ; compare Matt. 10; Act_1:21, Act_1:26; Act_22:15. As there is no evidence that they had been “witnesses” of these things; or appointed to it, it is improbable that they were set apart to the apostolic office.
(5) the word “apostles” is used sometimes to designate “messengers” of churches; or those who were “sent” from one church to another on some important business, and “if” this expression meant that they “were” apostles, it could only be in some such sense as having obtained deserved credit and eminence in that business; see Phi_2:25; 2Co_8:23.
Who were in Christ ... - Who were “converted” before I was. The meaning is clear. The expression, “in Christ,” means to be united to him, to be interested in his religion, to be Christians.

greg.w.h said...


Thanks for the correction. Teach me to fail to Google first when I have a wild hare I'm chasing. And I honestly don't know how I stopped at Copernicus without realizing it was wrong. I had Kepler's name on my mind and then it eluded me.

And thanks for the additional, more technical explanation. I was clearly winging it from defective Random Access Memory. ;)


greg.w.h said...

R. L.:

It was the paragraph that started with this assertion:

One of the most repeated arguments from the less informed opponents of women in ministry or ordained positions is that, “Jesus was a man and He chose twelve men to be his disciples. Therefore, only men should be ordained by church as its spiritual leaders.”

I unintentionally replaced less informed with uninformed in my comment. Your probably responding to me as if I agree with the author while what I'm actually doing is simply suggesting that if the author had a point to make in that paragraph, it will only be heard by the choir since it's somewhat insulting to the targets of the comment.

Greg Harvey

truth, not religion said...

Now that is some, and I do mean SOME spin.

yet you didn't address all the points of bad doctrine and practice running wild throught Christiandom with the manipulation of words and phrases, the inconsistant translations, the threats and intimidations and arguments from silence.

let me repeat, Christ Himself took the authority to 'RULE OVER" out of church leadership.

add to that, the Bible does not say women can't pastor.

BTW, I love you 5 point post

In His Service

R. L. Vaughn said...

Anonymous (at least one of them) posts a lengthy comment "written by a male ThD." and asks us to judge the content.

It's seems to be long on words, but some simple errors leave me nonplussed. A great collusion of translators is hard to believe. Why? If the translators were involved in a conspiracy based on "male bias and misogyny," then why not translate all as masculine? For example, KJV gives "Junia" as fem. in Rom. 16:7, but "Nymphas" as masc. in Col. 4:15. NAS and NIV, on the other hand, give masc. in Rom. 16:7 and fem. in Col. 4:15. If they were out to fool someone, they could have done a much better job.

And in the end, the heart of the matter is: "Does 'of note among the apostles' mean these two persons were apostles?"

R. L. Vaughn said...

Thanks, Greg. I used 'control f' to look for "uninformed" and didn't find it, so assumed that was the paragraph to which you referred. But I did understand your point about the author being unnecessarily confrontational.

Then the rest didn't address you specifically. It was just that the reference to all-male apostles made me think of the thought I had given to it some time back and pasted that just as food for thought. Possibly some on either end of the spectrum are unwilling to meditate on the implications of Jesus' act in choosing 12 men to be His apostles. I think what I pasted possibly gives folks a little more to think about concerning 12 all-male apostles that the author's dismissive paragraph would suggest.

Sorry for the confusion.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Truth, not religion--

I assume your comment "that is some...spin" is directed at my post, since you go on to say you love the "5 point post". With what in this do you disagree -- "We do not need negative commands for everything we do not do, but positive commands for what we do. We refuse to baptize babies, even though the Bible is 'silent' in saying not to. We don't baptize them because the Bible teaches us whom we should baptize, and it doesn't include them. It must be determined if the 'argument from silence' is really 'silence' after all."

I neither undertook, nor intended to, "address all the points of bad doctrine and practice running wild throught Christiandom." My comment only addressed the "argument from silence," which often gets a bad rap.

Unknown said...

I've also heard that Junia was a female apostle. I forget the book I read that in. Whether Junia was an apostle, well thought of by the apostles, or whether it was Junias, there is, however enough other evidence to conclude that females were in leadership positions in the early church. Phoebe the deacon being sent to Rome with Paul's letter to the Romans (Romans 16:1) is one piece of that evidence. Some of the others mentioned here; Prisca and the other female leaders of house churches. All the women that Paul would mention in his letters. Women were definately in prominant positions in the early church.

Anonymous said...

Paul Burleson,

Hello my brother. I know you have not commented here, but I wanted to ask you something in relation to this topic. I have been thinking off and on about what you have said on this subject.

Could you share with me if this would be [or is close to] your line of reasoning on the Galatians 3 passage:

A. The Law that Galatians frequently mentions is the Law of Moses.
B. The Law of Moses included instructions on the Levitical priests.
C. These Levitical instructions would include the idea that in order for one to be a priest, one had to be:

1. An Israelite
2. A Free person
3. A Male

D. Galatians teaches that we are free from the Law of Moses.
E. Part of that freedom would include what Galatians 3:28 teaches:

1. The Racial Boundary to being one with God's children has been abolished.
2. The Occupational Boundary to being one with God's children has been abolished.
3. The Gender Boundary to being one with God's children has been abolished.

Therefore, none of these boundaries can legitimately be used against any member of the New Covenant community to exclude them from any service within the New Covenant community (including pastoral work).

"All" are now Priests.

Qualification for pastoral service is now based on gifting and character, not on Old Covenant Boundaries.


If this is somewhere in the neighborhood of your thinking, I don't see how anyone could justifiably accuse you of being motivated by culture.

This strikes me as striving to interpret the book of Galatians as you see it against the backdrop of the Law of Moses.

Grace my brother [and I know I'll receive plenty of this back from you:)]


Anonymous said...


Can you explain to me how you interpret this verse to say Phoebe was a deacon?

"I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:"

We have several women at our Church who could meet the words of Paul... workers or servants of the church... but we do not have any women deacons. It seems like a leap to me.

Joe W.

Lin said...

Joe, In the KJV the word used is servant but if you look it up, you get:


Same Greek word used for Deacon in other verses. I am afraid it looks as if the translators could not bring themselves to call her a deacon so they used a 'description' of servant. All Deacons are 'servants' to the Body by the way. As are all Christians.

WatchingHISstory said...

Adrian Rogers like you was also a complementarian (I can be corrected on that) and in a providential manner I was at Bellevue one Wed nite 5 or 6 years ago. It seems that God wanted me to observe this. Dr Rogers was preaching a church growth message right out of Fuller Theological textbooks. He gave the number of people who had been baptized the previous year(around 800) and his point was that this should be a larger number. Quite a vision for most people to hear. But a woman in the congregation missed his point and she burst into spontaneous applause. It was a solitary feminine and excited expression which haunts me every day since then. He quickly put up his palms and said "now listen to me, you didn't hear what I said."
It was as though his sermon was so important that it should not be interrupted. (Gaines' dissenters bring up his quieting a man who said "amen" too much, saying it interrupted his sermons)

It is a streach but this woman's response could have been an expression like Cornelius' household which interrupted Peter's sermon. A minister can forget that God moves in mysterious ways that may not include our eloquent exposition of the inerrant text but a simple expression of a "silly" handclap.

In my Spirit I believe that Dr. Rogers missed an opprtunity for a move of God that night. Perhaps it would have been a time for Paul Williams to repent. That woman IMO may receive the reward of a great prophet when rewards are distributed in heaven for things that should have happened but didn't.

Charles Page
Collierville, Tennessee