Women in Ministry: a hermeneutical and historical approach Part 2

Yesterday, we began to look at the controversial issue of women in the church. These controversies stem from interpretations of Paul’s writings in the New Testament. The writings in question are found in the books of (or letters to) 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy.

  Women should be silent during the church meetings. It is not proper for them to speak. They should be submissive, just as the law says. If they have any questions to ask, let them ask their husbands at home, for it is improper for women to speak in church meetings (1 Cor 14:34-35).

“Women should listen and learn quietly and submissively. I do not let women teach men or have authority over them. Let them listen quietly” (1 Tim. 2:11-12).

Seems rather plain and simple doesn’t it? So what’s the fuss? Is there really any need for hermeneutical study? We can agree that if the Bible is the inerrant word of God, then Paul must have been writing through the Holy Spirit. And if Paul wrote through the Holy Spirit, then it must be truth, and truth is not relative, according to Christian doctrine. [1] So why argue with God?

This is a legitimate thought process; but another legitimate thought also arises: Why would God say such a thing—what is the purpose of restricting women especially when we find statements by Paul in other passages that seem so contradictory? Statements such as:

Our sister Pheobe, a deacon in the church in Cenchrea, will be coming to see you soon. Receive her in the Lord, as one who is worthy of high honor. Help her in every way you can, for she has helped many in their needs, including me (Rom. 16:1-2).

Now we really have a quandary; Paul says he does not let women have authority over men, yet he is commending a female deacon? How can we reconcile this contradiction? We will discuss this and more later in our series.


[1] Josh McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers), . 585-596.

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9 thoughts on “Women in Ministry: a hermeneutical and historical approach Part 2

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