Are women's gifts to be used outside the church?

Are women's gifts to be used outside the church?

In my blog entry called “Are women’s gifts secondary?” I documented the complementarian teaching that women’s gifts are secondary to men’s gifts and that women to use their gifts outside the church.

The question for this post is, are women’s gifts really meant to be used outside the church or are they to be used for the purpose of growth for the body of Christ?

To answer this question our most important resource will be the bible. Although there are several women mentioned who are co-workers with Paul, complementarians who refuse to allow women to minister in the church will tend to disregard these women co-workers because they say there is no documented evidence of their public ministry. So let’s look outside the box for a minute and look at the documented public ministry of a woman few people have reason to consider. The reason we will study this woman is not just for what is said about her, but also what is not said. In Revelation 2:20 we read:

But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.

Revelation 2:20 was written to the church in Thyatira. In this church is a particular woman named Jezebel is leading and teaching those whom Jesus calls “My bond-servants”. These men are committing adultery with her in seem by verse 22.

Now let us pay close attention to what Jesus says about Jezebel.

Revelation 2:21 ‘I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality.

Jesus gives Jezebel time to repent of her immorality.

20 ‘But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.

Jezebel calls herself a prophetess or an inspired woman prophet and she was teaching and leading men to sacrifice to idols and to commit adultery with her. Now there is something missing here that is very important. Did you notice that Jesus did not reprove Jezebel for the act of teaching but rather for the content of her teaching? It was her teaching and leading into adultery and leading people to eat things sacrificed to idols (teaching about the “depths of Satan”) that Jesus reproved her for. But wouldn’t this have been the perfect opportunity for Jesus to have given a second witness to the “law” that stops women from teaching men? This would have been the very best place to repeat the “law” if one existed since here we have a case of a woman publicly teaching men. But Jesus says nothing against a woman teaching men but he only stands against the substance of her teaching. Jesus also doesn’t rebuke Thyatira for letting her teach men publicly. He rebukes Thyatira for tolerating immorality.

In verse 22 Jesus gives Jezebel’s punishment along with the punishment of those who practiced immorality.

Revelation 2:22 Behold, I am throwing her into a bed, and those who commit adultery with her into great affliction, unless they repent of their deeds.

The extent of this woman’s ministry is shown by God’s judgment against her:

Revelation 2:23 And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.

All the churches will know that God is the one who searches the minds and hearts because of what he will bring upon this woman. Again notice that it doesn’t say that God will kill her children with pestilence because she is teaching men. Her punishment is because of her immorality.

Now that we have seen an example of a woman teacher inside the church who was a bad leader, where are women’s gifts shown to be good gifts inside the church? 1 Corinthians 14 talks about the gifts and the assembling of the church.

1 Corinthians 14:23 Therefore if the whole church assembles together and all speak in tongues, and ungifted men or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are mad?

1 Corinthians 14:26 What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.

1 Corinthians 14:31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted;

When the whole church assembles together, Paul says that they all are allowed to prophesy. This is body ministry and this includes the women in the church.

Where does it say that women’s gifts are not allowed in the church and not allowed for men’s profit? And where does it say that women are not allowed to pray with the men in the church as some prominent complementarians teach? The practice of the early church was that they were all together devoting themselves to prayer.

Acts 1:13 When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James.
Acts 1:14 These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.

When we are challenged that God has forbidden women from having any kind of public ministry, it is time that we answer back from scripture. God does not forbid his women “sons” from having a public ministry or from preaching the gospel of Christ to every creature!

9 thoughts on “Are women's gifts to be used outside the church?

  1. Hi Cheryl,

    Thanks for your thoughtful posts. I’m new to your blog space and have just scanned through a couple of your previous postings, particularly on 1 Cor 11. Was wondering whether you have previously covered 1 Tim 2:11-15?

    My pastor recently did a series on 1 Tim. His view is that the context of 1 Tim must be understood from the backdrop of wrong teachings being propagated by individuals in the local church, for e.g. 1 Tim 1:3-5. Apparently historial sources indicated some teachings elevated women to be superior to men (from the cult of Diana?), and this had an effect on the local congregation in Ephesus.

    Accordingly Paul could be addressing this specific local problem in 1 Tim 2:11-15 rather than giving a universal command. To be honest, I’m not at all certain that this could be an accurate read of the text. What is your view on it?

    God bless

    Keith

  2. There are also examples of bad women leaders in the OT and the same rationale applies, it is not that they were women, it is that they were bad leaders.

    One is to use the Scriptural witness of both the good and bad examples for our education.

  3. Keith,

    See the 1 Tim sections (on the column to the right). Cheryl’s insight is that this is referring to a specific woman.

  4. Hi Keith,

    Welcome! Glad you stopped by and I hope you enjoy the community here.

    Your Pastor is absolutely right in that we must understand 1 Timothy 2:11-15 within the context of the prohibition of false teaching and false deceived teachers in 1 Timothy 1. A point form of my take on the passage is at http://strivetoenter.com/wim/2006/12/02/what-does-1-timothy-211-15-mean/

    The question that I have always asked those who believe that 1 Timothy 2:12 is a universal prohibition is to show me point by point from the context of chapters 1 and 2 how Paul could possibly be stopping the teaching of true biblical doctrine. You see if we see 1 Timothy 2:12 as a universal prohibition then it must be stopping godly Christian women from teaching the truth of God’s word to men. But this simply cannot be supported from the context set forward in chapter 1. Paul did not say that Timothy was left behind in Ephesus to stop the false teachers from teaching AND the women from teaching. He simply and clearly was stopping the teaching of false doctrine and the deceived teachers were to be stopped from spreading this false doctrine. If Paul had also wanted godly women in general to be stopped from teaching, then he make the prohibition of 1 Timothy 2:12 to be completely foreign to the context because the stopping of “a woman” is surrounded by the stopping of false doctrine, the stopping of deceived teachers who are ignorantly teaching false doctrine (Paul also reveals that he too had been deceived and acted in ignorance) and the deception of Eve. Where is it possible to input godly women into this prohibition? It simply isn’t possible.

    I would love to hear from your Pastor and I think he would be encouraged by my DVD series called “Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free?” In this series the inspired words and the inspired grammar of 1 Timothy 2:11-15 are shown to prove that it is impossible for this prohibition to be stopping all women from ministering the truth of God’s word.

  5. Don,

    Yes you are certainly right! The bad teachers in the OT have been ignored by complementarians too. If God had a “law” from the creation of mankind that forbid women from teaching men or leading men, then we shouldn’t ever have seen women been used to teach or lead. The bad examples of women doing what was forbidden could have been used as an example by God to prove that women are not to be in any position of leading/teaching but there is nothing in the OT either that reprimands Israel for letting a woman lead or letting a woman teach. Thanks for pointing that out, Don!

  6. As there is a Jezebel who is bad in the OT and also one in the NT, I have heard of some that teach on a “Jezebel spirit” that has been used to say that a woman should not do something that a man can do. I completely reject that implication, of course, and am highly dubious of even the concept of a “Jezebel spirit” or similar.

  7. The Bible never teaches there is a “Jezebel spirit” and I have found that those who teach this not only teach that Christians can be demon possessed but also teach that anyone who doesn’t agree with them has a “Jezebel spirit”. It just isn’t scriptural.

  8. Cheryl, Notice also the 2nd witness God provides to Rev. 2:20. We read in Acts 15:28-29 that so long as we abstain from food offered to idols, blood, strangled livestock, and illicit sex, we are doing well in our Christian walks. But that’s not all. We are assured in verse 28 that the Holy Spirit lays no other burden (Greek word is epanagkes, meaning “essentials”) on us other than these. What exhilarating emancipation and liberty! No wonder the eminent scholar E.W. Bullinger could in all good conscience write in his introductory notes on 1 Tim.: “To Timothy were given the earliest instructions for orderly arrangement in the church, these instructions being of the simplest nature, and as Dean Alford well observes with regard to the Pastoral Epistles as a whole, the directions given “are altogether of an ethical, not of an hierarchical kind”. These directions afford no warrant whatever for the widespread organizations of the “churches” as carried on today.” (From: The Companion Bible p-1799).
    Regardless of what Bullinger and Alford say, scripture interprets scripture and as you’ve pointed out, even the locally surrounding context (data) does not support the prohibition of Godly women teaching Orthodox Biblical Doctrine to men.

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