Women in Ministry:
Anointed for Service,
Robbed of Opportunity
by Howard Morgan, D. Min.
The position of women in ministry has for many centuries been troubling for much of the church. However, as we go back to our Jewish roots we discover that the true faith of Abraham provides both anointing and opportunity for women to fulfill their callings in the Kingdom of God.
As the church departed from her Jewish roots, she lost her understanding of the Kingdom of God and adopted the pagan understanding of "gentile authority" which Jesus warned us against and prohibited His disciples from emulating. This kind of authority by its nature is oppressive and repressive. It seeks to keep in power and authority those who by virtue of their military strength, political standing, or financial resources have acquired dominant positions in society. The Kingdom of God, as it is revealed in the Jewish Scriptures, is built upon an entirely different structure. The greatest in the Kingdom of God are those who serve (Matthew 23:11). Those who are given authority in the church are given it for the express purpose of serving the purposes of God in the lives of those in their care and are never given it to manipulate them to serve their own self-centered purposes (Colossians.1:28). Anything that is not centered on the purposes of God in anotherís life is by definition centered on "self." Self-centered religion builds its own "kingdom" in opposition to the Kingdom of God. You can use this concept of a self-centered kingdom as opposed to a Christ- centered Kingdom as a very accurate measuring rod as you look at your own motivations, and seek to discern the motivations of modern church leaders and those you read about in church history. If traditional views of church practices that have become the norm today, and theological interpretations of the Bible that justify those practices, are based on a self-centered motivation, then we must change those practices and change the theologies that justify them. We are under a divine mandate to build Godís Kingdom and not to protect that which sustains any other "kingdom."
Leaders in the Kingdom of God are vested with authority so that they can do what is necessary to help those committed to their charge become "complete in the Messiah" (Colossians 1:28). All leaders who are practicing Biblical religion are anointed by God for one reason and that is to equip "the saints" for the work of service that they are called to (Ephesians 4:11-16). "The saints" is a reference to all who believe in the Messiah, which obviously includes women. This means that all ministers are called to do whatever they can to help women fulfill their callings in the Lord, and not hinder them!
Before we look at the infamous "women keep silent in the church" and "let women learn in silence" and "I suffer not a woman to teach nor to usurp authority over the man, but be in silence" verses, letís take a look at the big picture of how God sees and uses women in the building of His Kingdom. It is when we see the whole story that we will understand what Paul was actually communicating. Then we will be able to see what God intends for his anointed daughters.
Letís begin by examining the Bible to see how God anointed women and then gave them opportunities to serve. These many examples are highly instructive for us as we seek to restore the church to her proper Biblical foundations and women to their Biblical ministries.
Please understand that when you read these small vignettes about women in the Bible, that we are not just talking about unique or special individuals but rather we are looking at them as spiritual types as they reflect what any woman can be or do if she will respond to the Lord as these women did. If we fail to see them in this way their stories will have no power to affect lives today, and the purposes of God in relating them to us in His Holy Scripture will be lost. They are "examples to us who believe, upon whom the end of the ages has come" (1 Corinthians 10:11).
Sarah, the wife of Abraham, is written about in the "hall of fame of faith" in Hebrews 11. There the writer says that "Through faith Sarah received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised." How are you fairing today concerning the promises of God to you? Like this woman of God, are you judging God faithful to fulfill his promises to you, or are you judging him another way?
When Rebecca understood that it was the will of God for her to go with a stranger to marry a stranger, she did not hesitate to fulfill Godís will. When this woman of God was convinced about the will of God she moved without delay, do you?
Consider the faith and wisdom of Jochebed, mother of Moses, Levi and Miriam. Committing her son to the small watertight ark she built, she planned for Pharaohís daughter to find him and for Miriam to suggest that she nurse her own son. In this way she was led by the Spirit to be actively involved in the formative years of Mosesí life, imparting to him the spiritual foundations for his future greatness. Could you do with your child what this woman of God did with hers?
Jochebedís godly influence is also seen in her daughter Miriamís life. The Prophet Micah mentions her as one of those God used to lead Israel during the Exodus (Micah 6:4). After the miraculous deliverance of Israel and the divine judgment upon Pharaohís army at the red sea, Miriam, whom the scripture specifically calls a "prophetess" became the first worship leader in Israelís history, singing and dancing with a tambourine, as she led the women in dancing and the nation in singing the praises of the Lord (Exodus 15:20-21).
Because of the boldness, wisdom, and faith in the goodness and righteousness of the Lord, the five daughters of Zelophehad, had the Law of God, the Torah, changed. God himself said that they "spoke right" when they insisted that women be included in the property rights inheritance laws (Numbers 27:1-9). Could they have been the first "lady lawyers" in the world? When you see unrighteousness do you have the boldness to confront it? These five women did!
Rahab, a woman of dubious character, (some rabbis call her merely an "innkeeper") also mentioned in the Hebrews 11 "hall of fame of faith", is a direct ancestor of David and Jesus. She had great faith, wisdom, discernment and courage. She was one who could "discern the signs of the times" and recognized that the formerly impregnable Jericho was about to be destroyed. Rahab's past life was no indication of her future success. When she came to faith, she obeyed and received her reward. What discernment about the signs of the times do you have? What are you doing about the things you discern? Would you take the risks that Rahab did? Would you have hidden spies?
Consider the wisdom of Abigail, and the desire for wisdom of the Queen of Sheba. And the widow of Zarephath, whose obedience to the word of the prophet Elijah brought supernatural provision to her home. What about Hulda, another prophetess, whom Josiah sought for wisdom and guidance when He found the Law of God, or the prayer passion of Hannah, whose intercession and future dedication and sacrifice brought to Israel the great judge and prophet Samuel.
Let us not fail to mention three of the most famous women in the Hebrew Scriptures. Ruth, Esther and Deborah. Ruth is the premier example of faith and devotion. Her quote to Naomi, "Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me," is one of the most famous in all of Scripture. It is the answer for all of us to the question Jesus asked Peter, "Will you leave me also?"
Another famous quote is attributed to the beauty queen turned national savior and hero, Esther. When faced with the prospect of certain death for entering the Kingís throne room uninvited she proclaimed with faith and courage, "I will go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish."
Deborah was a prophetess, a counselor, a military leader and a judge. The Israelite general Barak knew the anointing of God that was upon her life and would not go out to battle unless Deborah consented to go with him. Like Esther, God used this woman to deliver the entire nation.
These examples of women in the old testament clearly show how the Lord anointed women and then gave them opportunities to serve His purposes. God never changes (Malachi 3:6). So why would He, or the apostle the church claims to follow, now prohibit women from exercising their anointings or taking advantage of the opportunities God gives them? The answer of course is that neither He nor Paul has done that.
In the new testament we see women exercising their faith and their giftings as God gives them opportunity. Consider these examples. The woman at the well was an evangelist (John 4:29-30). The woman with the issue of blood had faith enough to take the anointing right out of Jesusí body without Him directing it (Mark 5:30-34). There were three women at the cross (John 19:25, 26), and two women at the tomb who were the first to see the resurrected Savior, and the first to proclaim the good news of His resurrection (Matt. 28:1,10). There were women who were preaching the gospel enough to be persecuted by Saul (Acts 8:3,4). Philip the evangelist had four daughters who were prophetesses (Acts 21:8-9). There were Jewish women in the upper room (Acts 1:14, 2:4), and gentile women in Corneliusí home (Acts10:24,27,44) receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28,29), the purpose of which was to imbue the receivers with power to minister (Acts 1:8). Why would God give women the power to minister and then deny them the opportunity to use it? He wouldn't and didnít. But insecure, intimidated, and deceived misogynistic men would. In the pure apostolic first century church women could exercise all the gifts of the spirit and did! In 1 Corinthians 11:5 Paul specifically acknowledges women praying and prophesying.
Women in the New Testament did preach, pray, and prophesy. In Romans 16:1 Phebe is called, in the Greek text, a diakonos--a minister--of the church. This is a masculine noun that is used in many places in the New Testament to describe individuals who do the work of the ministry: evangelizing, preaching, praying, prophesying. we see Priscilla and Aquila, her husband, ministering together, teaching Apollos the scriptures, overseeing a church, and traveling with and helping Paul in the ministry (Acts 18:1-18, 26; Romans 16:3; 1 Corinthians 16:19). These are not things a woman who had to be silent could do! Junia, a woman, is called an apostle by Paul in Romans 16:7, and in Philippians 4:2-3 he mentions two women, Euodious and Syntyche, whom he describes as "fellow laborers in the gospel." How could you labor in the gospel and be silent?
It is obvious then that God fully intends for women to exercise all of the gifts and anointings that God imparts to them. This being true, how could Paul tell women in 1 Corinthians 14: 34-35 to be silent, and that it is not permitted for them to speak in church? The answer is simply that he did not. He was only restating a quote in a letter sent to him about this and other issues (chapter 7:1). He responds to the quote by exclaiming in vs. 36; "What? (are you talking about!) Came the word of God out from you? Or came it unto you only?" (Italics mine.) It is foolishness to think that he would stop in the middle of a chapter and contradict all that he had just written and was himself practicing. It is not a shame for women to speak in church, because he already instructed women to speak in church. The whole content of this chapter is the balanced use of tongues and prophecy by both men and women. I believe that all of the difficulties that this text presents are cleared up when these verses are seen as a simple restatement of an issue posed to Paul by those yet bound by unscriptural Jewish traditions. These traditions (the oral "law" of vs. 34) kept women silent in synagogue and there were those who wanted these traditions to be carried over into the church.
Did Paul really instruct the church that women are not allowed to teach in 1 timothy 2:12? If he did, then how could he expect them, as believers, to fulfill the great commission? Jesus told everybody to "go into all the world and teach the nationsÖ" In like manner, those who prophesy do so that everyone can learn, the central goal of teaching (1 Corinthians 14:31). We saw earlier that Paul encouraged women to prophesy. It is interesting to note that Jesus in His rebuke of Jezebel in the book of Revelation (2:20) did not censure her for teaching or prophesying, but for teaching and prophesying error. He could have easily taken advantage of that situation to end this controversy once and for all by saying, "Jezebel, you woman, be quiet! I don't allow women to teach or prophecy in my church, you are supposed to be silent." If women were never allowed to teach or prophesy, the elders in the church at Thyatira would never have even allowed her to open her mouth. But because women were teaching and prophesying as a normal occurrence, she had the opportunity to speak. The church was rebuked for allowing her to lead people astray, not for allowing her to teach. Indeed in verse 21 the Lord gave her time to repent of her immorality, not of her prophesying or teaching.
The immorality of Jezebel in Revelation 2 ties directly to our study of 1 Timothy 2:12. If you will take the time to do an in depth study of 1 Timothy 2:12, you will find that Paul was not telling women in general not to teach or have authority over men, but was in actuality dealing with Gnosticism and female gnostic teachers who were mixing sexual immorality with gnostic doctrines. The greek word used in this passage of Scripture for "usurp authority" is authentien. This is the only place it is used in the New Testament. The normal word for authority is exousia. This rare verb had coarse sexual overtones. John Chrysostomís fourth century commentary on this verb uses the expression "sexual license." What Paul was actually doing was prohibiting female gnostic teachers from mixing their strange doctrines and sexual immorality as a means of seducing the church. This is exactly what Jesus was doing in Revelation 2:20-24. For a detailed treatment of this concept, let me refer you to Charles Trombleyís book, Who Said Women Canít Teach.
Throughout the Bible we find women who had powerful personal revelations and ministries. Church history is full of misogynistic theologians and ministers who have, all too successfully, tried to minimize them as some special exception to the norm. but that is completely wrong and the church has suffered tremendously because of it. One of the many doctrines of demons that the church has believed is that women are inferior to men and that Paul meant to silence them and relegate them to lifetimes of spiritual imprisonment and fruitlessness. As we boldly confront those doctrines of demons we will find ourselves in many intense spiritual battles. But the fruits of our victory will be well worth the fight. All the women in the Body of Christ will be set free to minister in the anointing of the Holy Spirit and take full advantage of all the wonderful opportunities God will give them to build His Kingdom. Satan knows how powerful women are in the Spirit and so he has tried to "silence" and minimize them. But as God restores his church to her Jewish roots, those daughters of Abraham will be set free to do a great deal of damage to satan's kingdom. Amen!
God has one unchanging purpose in the earth and that is to disciple men and women who can inherit His Kingdom and be qualified to rule and reign with Him. By anointing His children with His spirit and then giving them opportunities to serve, God is able to train such people. Let us now, as we approach the third Christian millenium not hinder anyone from fulfilling Godís purposes, but rather work together with Him to see everyone complete in the Messiah.
Dr. Howard Morgan is an internationally renowned prophetic teacher whose insightful, humorous and anointed ministry is inspiring, empowering and equipping believers around the world. A Jewish believer in the Messiah Jesus since 1971, he planted and pastored churches in New York City from 1976 to 1897. Since 1987 he has been traveling in a full time prophetic and teaching ministry, establishing and overseeing churches and ministries, and pastoring pastors. He is a gifted communicator who is able to present Scriptural truths clearly and precisely, so that the principles of the Kingdom of God are plainly understood and easily applied. His ministry is often accompanied by clear demonstrations of the revelatory gifts of the Holy Spirit.
He is the founder and president of Howard Morgan Ministries, his own teaching and equipping ministry, Kingdom Ministries International, which gives apostolic and prophetic oversight to a network of Churches and Ministries. He is a senior director of the Restoration Foundation, a ministry dedicated to seeing the Church restored to her Hebraic foundations, and a regular contributor to its acclaimed magazine ĎRestore!í Dr. Morgan is on the Board of Regents of Logos Christian College and Graduate School, and an adjunct instructor on their faculty. He and his wife Janet, an anointed minister in her own right, have three daughters, Briana, Melanie and Tiffany.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Please visit his ministry Website: http://www.HowardMorganMinistries.org