Can Women Lead in the Church?

Matthew 28:5-6 – But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.

Being in leadership does not mean that someone is superior to those they lead. Being functionally over others does not make someone intrinsically more valuable than people under their authority. Teacher and student, coach and player, or police officer and citizen are all equal. 

Even Jesus, at times, was under authority. As a child, He submitted to His parents, Mary and Joseph. He yielded to government by paying taxes. And before going to the cross, Jesus prayed to His Father saying, “Your will be done.” Jesus was not less valuable than His parents or political leaders or even God the Father. He stood equal to all. Furthermore, as a leader, Jesus is a humble, loving servant and the model of perfect leadership. 

This pattern of males in senior spiritual leadership roles is consistent throughout the Scriptures. 

One, out of the 66 books in the Bible, none were written by a woman. Some books focus on women (e.g. Esther, Ruth), and many have women in prominent roles. However, the highest authority for God’s people, Scripture, was all written by men whom the Holy Spirit chose. 

Two, Moses placed men to lead groups of thousands, fifties and tens (Exodus 18:25). God also had Moses appoint seventy male elders to govern God’s people (Numbers 11:16). 

Three, God only appointed men to serve as kings of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Unlike many modern nations which have a separation of church and state, God’s people in the Old Testament were ruled by a theocracy, meaning the kings were supposed to serve as a type of Jesus Christ, ruling both politically and spiritually as Jesus will after His Second Coming. 

Four, Jesus had women as part of His ministry but, after a night of prayer, He chose 12 men to be His disciples. Jesus talked with the woman at the well and the widow of Nain (Luke 7:12–13). He cast demons out of women and healed them (Matt. 9:20–22; Luke 8:40–56, 13:10–17). He lifted up women as examples as He preached (Matt. 25:1–10; Luke 4:26, 18:1–5, 21:1–4) and He taught women along with men, a highly controversial act in that day (Luke 10:38–42, 23:27–31; John 20:10–18). Jesus did not flinch when a sinful woman anointed Him and scandalized the religious guys who witnessed her devotion (Luke 7:36–50). Jesus was close friends with Mary and Martha, women He loved like sisters who had Him over to eat in their home (Luke 10:38–39). Women were among the most generous financial supporters of Jesus’ ministry (Luke 8:1–3). Women were also granted the great honor of being the first to discover Jesus had risen (Matt. 28:1–10). 

We will look at the fifth and, possibly, most controversial pattern among Bible-believing, Jesus-loving Christians in tomorrow’s devo.

Read some of the stories of important women in Jesus’ ministry and life mentioned in this devo above including the widow of Nain (Luke 7:12-13), the woman who had demons cast out of her (Matt. 9:20-22; Luke 8:40-56, 13:10-17), Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-39), and the women who were the first to discover Jesus had resurrected from the dead (Matthew 28:1-10).

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