QUESTION FOR THE EDITOR

Question No. 6: What roles do you believe women can play in spreading the gospel? Do you believe women should "preach" in any circumstances?

Answer: There are many ways godly women can help in spreading the gospel and teach God's will to saint and sinner. In Acts 8:4 we learn that "those who had been scattered (from Jerusalem) went about preaching the word." In verse 2 it tells us that "they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria ..." Obviously some of these disciples were women. Did these women participate in "preaching the word" wherever they went? Were they forbidden to "preach the word" to men? Could they "preach the word" to women? Were the women not included in "the disciples" who went about preaching the word? If you say "No" to any of these questions, upon what do you base your opinion?

Why can't women "preach the word" or "tell the good news" even to men? Who says that they can't do that? That it is a violation of God's "law" for them to do so? Oh, yes, Paul did write that he did "not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man..." (1 Tim. 2:12). Does that prohibit a woman from "preaching" or "teaching" the good news to a man? It doesn't say that. Paul's prohibition, if that's what it is, seems to be that she should not do this in a way so that she "exercises authority over a man." Assuming that is the case, why would she need to "exercise authority over" a man in order to tell him about Jesus Christ and the glorious good news that He wants proclaimed to all the world? Can't she make known the good news without exercising any "authority" over the man? If a woman "preaches" or tells the good news to women, does she "exercise authority over" them when she does this? Is "exercising authority over" women a requirement of the Lord for a woman to teach other women? Surely not.

Let me ask another question: Must a man "exercise authority" over a man in order to declare the good news ("gospel") to him? Did Phillip "exercise authority" over the Eunuch when and while he "preached Jesus" to him? If so, how do you know he did? Is "exercising authority over" another a necessary requirement when one "preaches" to or teaches that person? What does "exercise authority" really mean? Maybe we have allowed tradition, "the laws of men" or "Church laws" to determine this for us, rather than God's word.

Question: What does "exercising authority" over anyone have to do with proclaiming the good news to anyone, man or woman? Is "exercising authority'' over someone a prerequisite to "preaching" (telling) the good news to that person? Is the one being taught required to be "under the authority" of the preacher or teacher?

No one, man or woman, has any authority over any man or woman in so far as sharing the good news with others is concerned. Over the years, I have taught or preached the good news to thousands of men and women, but I never thought that I had or was exercising any "authority over" them! Never! The idea that I would be "exercising authority" over anyone when preaching or teaching never occurred to me! Where did the idea come from that when one "preaches to" or teaches others that somehow he is "exercising authority" over them?

In Phil. 4:2-3, Paul speaks of two women, Euodia and Syntyche. He asked some man, referred to only as "true comrade", to "help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel ... and the rest of my fellow workers..." Observe that these women had "shared" in Paul's struggle in the cause of the gospel. Also they were "fellow workers" with Paul, right along with the rest of his "fellow-workers". What did they do? Don't tell me that simply means that they cooked the meals, washed the clothes,,, and taught classes for children! Was that what the other "fellow-workers were also doing? That would be absurd! The Simple English Bible renders it: They both fought next to me for the Good News." That seems to say that they were into "preaching the good news" right along with the others.

Women can and have "preached" the good news to men. They have on occasions taught men more about God's word. In doing so they do not "exercise authority" over the men. In Acts 18:24-26, we learn that "Priscilla and Aquila ... took him (Apollos) aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately." Since Priscilla is placed first, many students think she was the principle one in explaining the way of God more accurately to Apollos. I believe that is the idea that the Holy Spirit, in guiding Luke, intended to convey to the readers. In thus teaching or "preaching" the good news to man (or men), women do not, simply by doing this, "exercise authority" over the man (or men). Women can teach a man anything, including God's word, that he is disposed to learn from them. Men have learned much, even about God's word, from women wives, mothers, school teachers, etc.

At Freed-Hardeman College years ago, I learned a lot, even some Bible, from Mary Nell Powers, N.B. Hardeman's daughter. She effectively taught "Preacher's Grammar", which I took twice! It was for preachers primarily and nearly all were preachers, or "budding or blooming" preachers! However, some of the preachers in the class were up in years, some even older than "Sister Powers"! But she taught us grammar, and when she felt like it, she would throw in some Bible teaching for good measure! She was definitely "in charge" of her class; and as far as I ever learned no one ever really questioned or challenged her right to teach grammar, and Bible, to preachers, most of whom needed both!

If a woman can teach a man anything, then she certainly can teach or tell him the good news about Jesus our Savior. Women can "spread" the good news to anyone and everyone as they may have the opportunity. "And everywhere the believers [men and women] went they told people the Good News about Jesus," as the Simple English Bible puts it in Acts 8:4. Women did it then and they can do it now by the authority of their Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, women should "preach" Jesus in any circumstances where they have the opportunity, and to both men and women! They are not second-rate citizens in the kingdom of God!

What does 1 Tim.2:12 forbid a woman to do? As I have illustrated above, it certainly does not forbid her to teach or even "preach" the good news to a man or to men. Neither teaching a man or "preaching" to men requires that she "exercise authority over a man". Therefore, as long as she does not do this, let her do what she can to teach the good news to all the men that she can! God knows that more of this desperately needs to be done. One thing for sure, men are not doing much of it!

In Joel 2:28-29 the prophet foretold that in the Messiah's reign, after the coming of the Messiah, women would "prophesy'' and Peter quoted that prophesy (Acts 2:15-18), saying that this time had now come, beginning with Pentecost. Philip had four daughters who did "prophesy" (Acts 21:9). In 1 Cor. 11:3-16, Paul gave instructions concerning women prophesying in an assembly of the saints. Men would prophesy and so would (did) women. The word "prophesy" is defined as "To set forth matters of divine teaching by special faculty." To us this simply means to teach.

The case of Priscilla and Aquilla indicates that a woman can have a part in teaching a man (Acts 18:26). In Titus 2:3-4, Paul appointed the older (elder) women to teach the younger women, which surely included teaching them what God has spoken on the matters they would teach. In the Old Covenant Scriptures, there are several instances of women teaching or instructing men in the way and will of God; and some of them even gave orders and instructions to men.

What About I Corinthians 14:34-357

In my view this passage does not apply today, requiring that all women must "keep silent" in the assemblies of the saints. Why doesn't it apply? Because it was written to legislate the use of miraculous spiritual gifts in these specific assemblies of the saints. Apparently there was a lot of confusion in the meetings where these special miraculous gifts were exercised. We do not have any of these special gifts today. No one today can do or perform any of these even though many apparently sincere people think that they can do such; and/or that some others do possess miraculous gifts such as mentioned in chapter 12.

Must all women "keep silent" in all the assemblies of the saints? If so, they must not utter a sound! They can't sing, ask a question, make a comment, or even speak an encouraging word to another saint.

It is likely that the women in the passage refers to the wives of the prophets, who may have been interrupting their prophet/husbands with questions or comments, thus needlessly disturbing others from learning. At least the "women" in the passage did have husbands at home whom they could ask for further instruction. To use this passage to put women in a place of "silence" in the assemblies today is making and binding a law of men! It is not from God! This passage has no bearing whatever regarding whether a woman can "preach" or teach the good news to men.

As Norman Parks has put it so well, we must "Set Our Women Free!" Allow them the freedom that God and His Son have granted to them.

The Source or Cause of the Confusion

In the beginning there was no corporate church organization, such as is seen in all the various denominations of this day. The institutional church started its formation only a short time after the death of the apostles and finally culminated in the monstrous Roman Catholic Church; the largest, most powerful religious structure in the world. It is controlled and ruled by men, of course. Women are in a definitely "under" and lowly role. Out of that Church came the early denominations, the Lutheran Church, the Church of England, the Presbyterian Church, etc. Until recent years, these church institutions were totally controlled and operated by men. Each denomination took on the corporate structure and the Church characteristics of the Roman. Church. In each case the organization or Church institution provided the method by which a few men would rule over and control the religious beliefs and actions of the vast majority. The institutional Church was the way to God for the masses and The Church offered salvation and heaven to all who joined and who would obey and pay!

Then, as is true today, there were two classes or levels (rank) of people in the man-designed institutional church: 1) the clergy (rulers, authorities, who were always men, who claimed to speak and act for God in directing the "under" class; and 2) the laity, whose role and responsibility was to 1) be taught, 2) obey, and 3) pay! Hence, in all religious systems (Churches or denominations) there are those select few who are "over' others; and there are those who are always "under" others! The whole structure and system is designed to set up "the few" (Church officials, the clergy) and give them control over the vast majority of others (the lowly laity). The heavy financial burden of the Church institution is laid upon the backs of the lowly laity. The clergy and the church institution (all kinds) are supported or funded by the voice-less members!!

Dear brother and sister, can you form a mental picture in your mind and see all the millions of lowly laity "peasants," from those early years until this present hour, forced into carrying upon their back all the financial support of the clergy and all the corporate churches, with all their cathedrals and lavish buildings?? The laity pays the bill, yet they have neither voice or vote in what takes place. It is still true today: YOU are the source of revenue for whatever the clergy/rulers want to lay upon you! YOU bear the burden, and there is no end to it the corporate institution and its rulers always need more and more. Like the grave, they are not satisfied, they never have enough! And this burden laid upon YOU is wholly of and by men; it is not from God!

The institutional church must have rulers or managers, those who are over all the others in down-the-line management structure. However, until recent years, women have never been any part in the rulership or management of Church institutions. In fact, it seems clear that the male "laity" was more involved and respected than the female laity.

Now consider the operation of all these Church institutions. Women have always been heavily restricted relative to "church work." Theirs was almost always a serving role, doing things that women are "made by God to do"! Women are not "equal" to men! Leadership, teaching, planning and managing are not positions that women can fill with God's approval. Certainly they were not to teach men; especially were they forbidden to teach God's word to men! So it has been through the ages in the main. And so it is till this day "women must stay in their place," in the role to which God has restricted them! Yet if it had not been for the "silent" and low-key, "behind the scene" faith, courage and leadership provided by godly women through all the ages, the cause of the Lord would have long ago vanished from this earth.

The Institutional Church, in all its. forms and various denominations, is the greatest deception that the forces of evil have ever perpetrated upon those who wanted to serve God. Upon these man-made corporate structures, ruled and operated by men, the loyalty, dedication, love, service, and faithfulness of multiplied millions, who wanted to follow Jesus, has been wasted. And the institutional church is still alive and well on planet Earth enslaving multiplied millions. God's people, those who are truly free in Christ, are not "members" of a church institution of any kind!

Oh! I dare not continue with this or it would go on and on! Please be patient with me as I cry out to you, begging you to honestly and diligently study these matters in the light of God's holy word. Don't be victimized by the clergy. Find out the truth for yourself on all these vital matters. God bless you. - CAH