Women and Church Eldership

Now the same Paul who mentions "the women" qualified to help the male Deacons in I Tim. 3:8-11 (and probably again in 5:5-16 where they would seem to be mature women and especially diligent widows 60 years old and above), also describes "our sister" Phebe not only as a patroness or "a helper of many" but also as "a diakonos of the church at Cenchrea." Rom. 16:1-2. Again, in the church at Lydda, Peter encountered the woman Tabitha or Dorcas who, by making "coats and garments" for impoverished widows, helped them in a similar way to the manner in which the first all-male Deacons did. Acts 9:56,59,41 cf. 6:1-8.

Not only the male Deacons but so too the "women"or gunaikes who obviously helped them, were to be faithful in their tasks of: caring for widows and orphans; showing mercy to the sick; providing all hospitality; and succouring many. Yet those womenfolk were to do so unloquaciously. I Tim. 2:9-11 & 3:8-11 cf. 5:3-16 & Jas, 1:27 & Rom. 12:4-13 & 16:1-2.

5. CALVIN ON DEACONESSES

The above-mentioned passage Rom. 12:4-8 refers to Christian OFFICES — one of which "shows mercy." Calvin comments here that this means the offices of "widows and other ministers who were appointed to take care of the sick, according to the custom of the Ancient Church." Elsewhere (see his Institutes IV:3:9), Calvin further declares that this same passage — Rom. 12:4-8 & 12:9-15 — includes references to "those who had devoted themselves to the care of the poor and the sick. Such (very devoted caretakers) were the widows of whom he (Paul) makes mention in the Epistle to Timothy (I Tim. 5:10). For there was no public office which women could discharge [in the Apostolic Church] save that of elevating themselves to the service of the poor."

In his Commentary on First Timothy (5:9), Dr. Calvin refers to "widows at the age of sixty who serve the church as long as their health permits them to do so." Indeed, in

WOMEN AND CHURCH ELDERSHIP

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his Institutes (IV:13:19), while discussing I Tim. 5:9-12, he states that "Deaconesses were appointed…to perform the public ministry of the Church towards the poor…. They did…vow celibacy…only that they might be free from encumbrance in executing their office."

6. THE QUESTION: WOMEN AS ELDERS?

The question now arises as to whether Scripture, in addition to anthorising and encouraging qualified Christian ladies to undertake the aforementioned AUXILIARY ministry as DEACONESSES — also authorises and encourages dedicated women to minister even in the RULlNG OFFICE(S). Should exemplary elect ladies ever be encouraged or permitted to become either Ruling Elders or Preaching Elders?

7. EVIDENCE FROM CREATION

Now at CREATION, the Lord made both man and woman together to rule or to have dominion over all of the other creatures (Gen. 1:26-28). God did not, however, create woman to rule over man. To the contrary, He created the woman to be ruled by the man (I Cor. 11:3,7-10). Indeed, God made woman in order that she should be man's AUXILIARY help "an help meet for him" or as an 'ezer kenegdoo or an auxiliary alongside of him (Gen 2:18-25 cf. I Cor. 11:7,9).

For God did not create the man for the woman. To the contrary, God created the woman for the man. I Cor. 11:9. And man is not the image and glory of the woman. To the contrary, woman is the glory of the man. I Cor. 11:7. And woman is not the head of man. To the contrary, the head of the woman is the man . I Cor. 11:3. For God first formed the 'male' or the zaakaar (alias 'the one who pierces actively') — and only later fashioned or manufactured the 'female'; that is, the neqeebaah (alias 'the one who gets pierced passively'). Gen. 1:27 & I Tim. 2:13.

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