Women in the the Church and Luke’s Teaching From Acts 2, 10, and 11


There seems to be much discussion about the place of women in the church, that is, what women can and cannot do. From the entirety of Scripture, there is much more evidence to support the fact that women CAN MINISTER in any and all capacities. This is primarily based on the fact of the empowering of the Holy Spirit upon individuals.

This article will consider how the impact of the Holy Spirit upon the Jews and the Gentiles as recorded by Luke, in the Book of Acts, can inform us today. Luke’s account provides foundational support for both women and men to be called of God, anointed and empowered for pertinent Christian ministry in the church and in the world.

Let us examine Acts 2, 10, and 11 and glean from these passages some pertinent truths of what Luke was intending for his readers to understand and to practice. 

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Acts 2—The Believing Jews and Pentecost

So, what was the point of the Day of Pentecost when it comes to ‘how’ women should function in the church today? Obviously it was a significant day in the cycle of Jewish feasts—which pointed to spiritual realties that would come.  It is not hard to understand the implications of the Passover. Fifty days after the Passover celebration, came the Feast of Pentecost in the Jewish calendar.

Details after the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ are found in the Book of Acts. Though the disciples were living in the joy of seeing their Lord raised from the dead, talking and eating with him again, they also followed through on what they were told to do next, after his ascension: To wait and to expect, as a community of Christ followers, in order to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

I am sure that they wondered what this could mean, but they had the promise, both from the Scriptures and the words of Jesus, himself, that this would be their personal experience. This was the time of huge change—since Christ had come in the flesh and had completed what he was sent to do. In our context, we could ask: Was this Acts 2 event/experience to be only for the apostles, only for the converted male followers of Christ, or was this ‘promise’ for ALL of God’s people–which included women and maybe children too?

Who Was Gathered in the Upper Room?

We read from Acts 1:12-14 that a group of about 120 gathered in a designated place. Many from Jesus’ family were there too. Both women and men gathered together to pray, to wait, and to expect. Notice Peter’s salutation to them when they considered appointing someone to fill the position of Judas.

“12 Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. 13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) 16 and said, “Brothers and sisters, the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus.”

When the Day of Pentecost had come, Luke records in Acts 2 that:

“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” 

Moving Out into the Open

As this group found their way outdoors, those gathered in Jerusalem at that time were perplexed at the phenomena that they were witnessing–and some even ridiculed them.

Peter wasted no time to clarify what exactly was going on. He based his explanation on a familiar passage to them, found in Joel 2.

14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

17 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.     . . .

22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.”

Peter gave witness to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and verified the basis for what was happening:

32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.”

What Jesus told them, based on the OT and NT promises was now being fulfilled—before their very eyes. There was no longer any waiting. Men and women, who had trusted that Jesus was the Messiah of God, were the recipients of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on this Day of Pentecost. There was no going back to the ways that things had been shaped by Jewish culture, based on the OT Scriptures.

A New Era Had Begun!

A new era had unfolded and those who gathered on this day were the first fruits of many more men and women who would boldly declare the Gospel message to many nations. It is quite obvious, from a biblical perspective, that the reader of the Acts account should be able to factor in that women were included and that women have a place in ANY and ALL ministry in the Church today–since the day of this significant outpouring!

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Acts 10 and 11—The Gentiles are Included

To continue with our look at the inclusion of women in the Book of Acts, let us consider the account of Peter going to the house of Cornelius and what transpired there. This lengthy account can be found in Acts 10 and 11.

For the Apostle Peter, to be called and commanded to go to the home of a Gentile was quite a big deal for any serious Jew. It was by direct revelation to this spiritual leader in the early church that this was the divine will of Yahweh.

We are familiar with Peter’s lunchtime vision about the unclean animals. We are intrigued as we recognize the unique timing—at the same instant as his vision, the three men sent by Cornelius, were at Peter’s door.   Peter could not avoid going with these men to the centurion’s home. Even still, it was so far out of cultural norms that this story needed to be explained more than once by Luke–in order for the readers to get the full impact of what was so cross-culturally taboo for a Jew to even think of doing. The reader watches this story unfold, blow by blow.

It is noteworthy that Cornelius was expecting them. In fact, he had called together his relatives and close friends to be assembled there upon their arrival. Upon entering this home, there was a large gathering of people—also waiting and expectant—as to what this Jew might say to them.

From his Jewish perspective, Peter made this significant statement before them all: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.” (10:28)

Cornelius described his angelic visit. From that report, it solidified Peter’s response which confirmed what he now realized: “. . . God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.” From there Peter rehearsed pertinent Jewish history and tied together the recent events regarding Jesus of Nazareth, and established that HE was indeed: God’s Anointed One.

Peter affirmed that: “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.    42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Right in the Middle of Peter’s Sermon!!

What happens next arrests the reader and demonstrates that what had happened to the believers on the Day of Pentecost was indeed happening right here and right now in this Gentile home!

“While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.”

Just as on the Day of Pentecost, Peter gave voice to what had just happened to his fellow Jews. Here again, Peter acknowledged what exactly was happening among these Gentiles. “Then Peter said, 47 “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” 48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.”

Peter Now on the Red Carpet

In chapter 11, we read how Peter had to defend his actions after being rebuked by fellow believers for having overstepped Jewish cultural boundaries. “So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.” Peter had to rehearse the entire story about his vision and about the angelic encounter of Cornelius.

Peter emphasized the fact again that the ‘voice’ that spoke from heaven made it clear that he was NOT to ‘call anything impure’ that God, himself, had made clean. Peter words, recorded by Luke, endorsed again what the message was: “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?”

With those words, there was no more need to defend this multi-ethnic situation any longer. There were no further protests and praise was given to God!

“When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

Again the teaching from Acts 10 and 11 is clear. Though Peter was slow to grasp the full message—that the Holy Spirit had come upon all, not just the Jews–he eventually got it, at least this time. This account of the significance of the coming of the Spirit upon those gathered in the home of Cornelius, underscores again that the Spirit ‘came upon ALL’—both men and women assembled there.

The Gentiles heard the Gospel and in their hearing and receiving the impact of the Good News, they were empowered by the Holy Spirit–identically as the believers waiting in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. Luke’s thorough description of this event in Acts highlights the empowering of the Spirit upon all who believe!


In summary, we see that a host of both Jewish and Gentile men and women were filled with the precious Holy Spirit beginning with these two momentous events. It was God’s timing for change and for the new era of the Spirit to commence. We can thoughtfully conclude that: there are no restrictions between the calling of women or men today–to fulfill all that God calls them to be and to do in His Kingdom!

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For Further Reflection

How did the early church deal with the challenge of including Gentiles into the church? What were the criteria that they used to establish that the Gentiles were ‘worthy’ of inclusion in the church—that is, the Redeemed Community of God’s people?

Acts 15 gives details of the sharp dispute regarding the inclusion of the Gentiles as believers by teaching them that it was imperative that they be circumcised, “according to the custom taught by Moses” OR they could not be saved!

From this passage we see that there was strong contention about this crucial and Jewish traditional issue. We also observe how the early church dealt with such strong controversy. It was a time of huge change and the leaders of the church needed the wisdom from God, patience, tenacity, and the witness of both the Word and the experience of their ‘sent forth’ ones to establish any purposeful change.

We listen in on the Council at Jerusalem in Acts 15:

“Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the believers very glad. When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.

Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.”

The apostles and elders met to consider this question. After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”

12 The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. 13 When they finished, James spoke up. “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me. 14 Simon has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles. 15 The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written:

16 “‘After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, 17 that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things’ 18 things known from long ago.

19 “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. 21 For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”

From all of the contributors to this tense situation, we observe the following:

  1. Peter verified from the Scripture and from his own recent life experience that God accepted the Gentiles–since the evidence was that they had received the filling of the Holy Spirit ‘exactly as they had’ on the Day of Pentecost.
  1. Barnabas and Paul also recounted their experiences of the signs and wonders that God had done among the Gentiles through them from their recent missionary adventures.
  1. When Barnabas and Paul had finished, James spoke up. James confirmed Peter’s description that “God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles.” James also pointed them to the words of the prophets which were in agreement with this.

To conclude, these chosen leaders proved by the Old Testament Scriptures, the very words of the prophets, and the verifiable recent life experiences of Peter, Barnabas, and Paul on the frontlines of mission that this was God’s divine will. They corroborated how the Gentiles were filled with the Holy Spirit and signs and wonders were done among the Gentiles–as a further witness to God’s working among them. All of these factors pointed to the need to no longer carry on the ‘Moses’ tradition’ of circumcision.

Instead, there were four main guidelines instituted for the discipling of the Gentiles after their conversion to Christ. A letter was written and taken to the church at Antioch by Paul, Barnabas, Judas, and Silas.

That which had been done for centuries by the Jews–to show their covenant devotion to the words of Moses and Yahweh’s Law–was now set aside since there was a new season of the Spirit’s visitation in the lives of Jews and Gentiles. This became the new path for followers of the Christ, the Son of God.

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Two sites which provide Free Articles for personal research are: Christians for Biblical Equality and God’s Word to Women.

CBE           www.cbeinternational.org

GWTW       www.godswordtowomen.org

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© 2015   Barb Orlowski, D.Min.

Women in the Church and 1.Timothy 2.Priesthood.

Women in the Church

Topic 1   Which Book Came First—Timothy or Romans?

Topic 2   Looking at Women from the Context of the Priesthood


The issue of what women can or cannot do in the church continues to rage on.  Christians for Biblical Equality have two good magazines to offer:  one is Priscilla Papers and the other one is Mutuality.  They have some excellent articles, a scholarly approach, and information to help the reader work through the challenges that seem to be ever present with ‘the woman issue’ in the church today.

The following are selected excerpts from two articles.

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Topic 1   Which Book Came First–Timothy or Romans?   Having a Consistent NT Interpretive Approach

Title:   On Developing a Consistent Hermeneutical Approach to the Application of General Scriptures

by Cynthia Long Westfall, Ph.D.


Topic 2 Looking at Women from the Context of the Priesthood

Title:   Incarnation, Trinity, and the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood

by John Jefferson Davis, Ph.D.


Topic 1

Which Book Came First—Timothy or Romans?

Title:  On Developing a Consistent Hermeneutical Approach

to the Application of General Scriptures

by Cynthia Long Westfall, Ph.D.


What is 1 Tim 2:8-15 really about?  This is the primary passage that has been used to exclude women from teaching and leadership in the church.  However, a careful examination of the passage in its context shows that it is most likely addressing false teaching and myths about marriage and childbirth that were spreading from house to house.

In an article, authored by Cynthia Long Westfall, we pick up some intriguing facts.  Westfall begins her discussion by acknowledging that the 1 Corinthians passage on spiritual gifts reflects the Holy Spirit’s primary role in the distribution of the gifts.  The problem in the evangelical church is that it has had a dominant hermeneutical approach which inserts 1 Tim. 2:12 as an a priori assumption over the distribution of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The result is that “women find that they hit unanticipated glass walls because they are dealing with embedded theologies that are far more restrictive and confusing than what is actually articulated or permitted.”  Westfall states clearly that in practice a veil is placed over Rom. 12:1-8 when a woman reads it.  The point is that anyone who studies Scripture, whether woman or man, needs to apply sound hermeneutical principles consistently when studying this passage.

“Inconsistencies in the hermeneutical approach applied in regard to women result in theological inconsistency and patterns of injustice.”

Three of Paul’s epistles act as a template for the believer’s function in the church:  1 Corinthians, Romans, and Ephesians. These letters were written around A.D. 55-60.  The Epistle to the Romans is the least occasional of Paul’s epistles and is the most systematic, with the most explanation and clarity.  Paul never visited the Christians in Rome.

“If there had been essential constraints on women in the exercise of spiritual gifts, this would have been the time for Paul to make such constraints clear.”

Romans provides a significant contrast with 1 Timothy in a number of ways:

  • Romans was written to a group in a place that Paul never visited.

  • 1 Timothy was a private, intimate letter to a member of his ministry team, which by nature assumes a very high level of shared information.  Key information for outsider interpretation is omitted because the recipient understands the context.

  • 1 Timothy is highly occasional, embedded in a particular context in Ephesus.  Paul was addressing a number of specific issues and problems caused by false teaching.

  • 1 Timothy was written as much as eight years after Romans was written.

  • The alleged interpretive grid in 1 Tim. 2:12 contains a number of significant interpretive problems.

  • When the eight-year span between these two letters is considered, the use of 1 Tim. 2:12 as an interpretive grid for Romans is anachronistic.


Interpreting the Scripture skillfully involves:

  1. Not basing a doctrine on one verse.

  1. Not basing a doctrine on a verse or passage with interpretive problems.

  1. Giving preference to the clearer passage.



  1. Rom. 12:1-8 is a unified thread and 12:9-21 is closely related.

  1. Parallel passages in 1 Cor. 12 and Eph. 4:11-15 elucidate Paul’s theology of spiritual gifts and can be used legitimately to interpret each other.

  1. Regardless of one’s translation theory, in the Greek, humas (you plural) and adelphoi (siblings/brothers and sisters) refer to both women and men.  This is made explicit and emphatic in 12:3—these instructions are addressed to every single one of the believers.


Rom. 12:1-2:  Priesthood of the believer, authenticity, and transformation

“The exhortations in 12:1-2 are couched in terms of worship, so that the believer is depicted as both the priest who serves and offers the sacrifice and the sacrifice that is being offered.  Worship in the Old Testament, including the sacrifice and the priesthood, is now being fulfilled with the inauguration of the new age.”

“One of the common arguments used to support the prohibition of women from the priesthood or pastorate is that Old Testament priests were male.  But here we have the priesthood of believers in a ministry/gift context, and there is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female in the priesthood.  This is consistent with the argument in the book of Hebrews . . .”

Since Christ offered himself as the once-for-all sacrifice for sin, then all believers stand on the same ground before God.  Each believer now has the right, the authority, to follow Christ into the Holy of Holies functioning as priests.

“If the Old Testament teaching role actually belonged to the priests rather than the prophets, then the teaching role would be extended across the racial, social, and gender lines also.”

Every believer can share knowledge even though every believer may not have the gift of teaching.

All functions in ministry flow out of the concept of the priesthood of the believer.

  • “Every member of the church shares in the church’s ministry and mission.”

  • “Where there is a priesthood of all believers, there is no spiritual aristocracy or hierarchy.”

One’s theology of ministry will either include or exclude women from positions of authority.  Therefore, “arguments that exclude women from so-called positions of authority are based on an incorrect theology of ministry.”

In the book, How to Think Theologically, there is a helpful distinction between deliberative theology and embedded theology.

  • Deliberative theology is intentionally drawn from interpreting the Bible.  Scriptures are studied and developed into a coherent worldview.

  • Embedded theology is our autopilot—our unspoken, unwritten, unexamined rules by which we live.”

Westfall recounts that Christian women today have been “educated, tested, trained, certified, elected, and proven to function in an expanding variety of different roles and responsibility and leadership.”  She notes that an interesting statistic is that:  “women now make up 50 percent of the student body of some seminaries.”

Basically women’s “personalities, abilities, potential, and development are not inherently broken—they are an essential part of our authenticity.”

Westfall has been keenly observed that there is a reluctance to question or contradict a man’s call, even if he appears to lack the gifts and social skills deemed appropriate for ministry.  Yet, when a woman “determines her call by the same model, using the same criteria, if she comes to the same conclusion, she is told that her navigational system is broken.”

Women are told that utilizing emotion and experience is invalid in discovering their call–if they come up with the “wrong” conclusion.  This is ironic, because women follow the same procedures received directly from the unified witness, teaching, and example of men in the pulpit, adult Sunday schools, Bible classes, theologians, and writers of commentaries.

As a result, in practice, a man’s experience and emotions are treated as normative regarding his call to ministry, but a woman’s emotions and experience are treated as suspect.  Her findings can be cancelled out by being outside of wherever “they” draw the line of what the appropriate sphere of ministry is for women.  Westfall further notes that, historically, the line has been drawn in every conceivable place.

But, in the two passages that explicitly address the basis of the function of ministry, 1 Corinthians 12 and Roman 12, there are two primary determinants of gifts and function:  the realistic estimation of the individual and the Holy Spirit who gives gifts to every individual just as he determines (1 Cor. 12:11).  This would argue against the theology of “drawing a line” and creating a priori rules of how God works that cancel out the clear theology of these two passages in regard to women.”

Westfall zeroes in on the fact that there is a “hermeneutic of suspicion” that is pervasive among conservative evangelicals which has been used to interpret and judge a woman’s identity as well as her behavior.


Romans 12:6b-8:  Gifts given to meet the needs of the body

“When a man looks at Romans 12:6-8, he sees a non-exhaustive list of possibilities through which he may interpret himself and his calling.” . . . “Men are free to consider any gift as a possibility.  On the other hand, sometimes there is flat denial that a woman could be gifted in the majority of the gifts based on whether they involve authority, speaking, or passing judgment based on 1 Timothy 2:12.”

“Men are saying to gifted women, “I have no need of you,” which is a clear violation of Scripture (1 Cor. 12:21-26).  Consequently, women who show themselves to be gifted in areas other than service, showing mercy, giving, and faith are prey to being underutilized, misused, or even treated with hostility.  The principles governing the exercise of spiritual gifts are clear when applied to men, but they are not understood or applied with any rigor or consistency to women.”



“Women are not permitted to interpret or apply Romans 12:1-8 in the same way as the men who teach them and lead them by example.  In essence, they are not allowed to apply sound hermeneutical principles consistently.  A passage becomes something else—in some cases, the exact opposite principle is asserted based on gender considerations than the one which the passage espouses or illustrates.”

“A man can approach spiritual gifts as spiritual possibilities, but a woman may be unsure of what she is allowed to do.  She becomes immobilized.”

Westfall defines the problem as using 1 Tim. 2:12 as a hermeneutical grid when interpreting Rom. 12:1-8.  She affirms that the Roman church “could not have used it as an interpretive grid.”  Using one verse, which has interpretive problems, is unwise.  Preference should be given to the clearer passage in Romans over the less clear passage in 1 Timothy.

“If Paul was deeply troubled about Judaizers requiring circumcision, what would he think about the intentional restraint and immobilization of the Spirit’s gifts for ministry?  Pragmatically, the use of 1 Timothy 2:12 involves a sort of “hermeneutic imperialism” that cancels out the clear teaching of Romans 12:1-8.  The effects of this practice results in complex patterns of injustice.  Ultimately, it generates a different theology for women than for men.”

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From Priscilla Papers, Volume 24, Number 3, Summer, 2010.


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Topic 2

Looking at Women from the Context of the Priesthood

Title:  Incarnation, Trinity, and the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood

by John Jefferson Davis, Ph.D.


From the Church’s Past

In an article by John Jefferson Davis, Ph.D., he takes a hard look at the culture wars around the topic of the ordination of women.  Davis observes:

“With regard to “culture wars,” cultural conservatives tend to see the ordination of women as symptomatic of a feminist movement that destabilizes the family and society generally; cultural progressives and egalitarians tend to see male-dominant readings of Scripture as increasing the dangers of domestic violence and abuse.”

Davis goes on to reminisce about how certain beliefs, that were held strongly in the church over time, were later reconsidered under duress of the evidence presented and were forced to painfully adjust accordingly:

“During the Galileo controversy, the Vatican could rightly point to a patristic and later church tradition that was solidly on the side of a geocentric understanding of biblical texts such as Psalm 19, Joshua 10:13, and Psalm 9:1, and yet, as history shows, the church was later to correct its earlier understanding of these texts in the light of new evidence and better hermeneutical principles.”

Davis concludes that this also may be the case with regard to traditional understandings of the biblical texts regarding the ordination of women.


The Maleness of the Priesthood

When it comes to the argument of the ordination of women beginning with the male gender of Jesus, an obviously valid point, there are a number of serious problems with proceeding with this line of argument.  Davis points out the following:

  1. This line of argument overlooks the fact that the nature of priesthood was fundamentally changed in the transition from the old to the New Covenant.  In the New Testament church, all believers are priests, offering the sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving to God. 

“you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”  1 Pet. 2:5, 9

 One does not have to look very far to realize that both male and female are now ‘priests’ in the New Testament usage of the term.  Believers are no longer dependent on a single human mediator, but have immediate access to the Father, by faith in Christ alone.  From Hebrews and Revelation, we note two verses: 

“let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”                                      Heb. 10:22

“You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”                    Rev. 5:10

  1. The idea of the male priest as “icon of Christ” argument demonstrates a misunderstanding of the purpose of the incarnation.

Though Jesus became incarnate, as a male, the main point is that God took on a full and complete human nature.  This human nature fully represented both male and female.

The introduction to the Gospel of John states that:

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. . .”  (John 1:14).  It does not say:  “And the Word became a male.” 

The outstanding point with the incarnation was that Jesus was not only a male by gender, but more specifically, he was a Jewish, unmarried, physically unblemished, male.

When one reads the fine print in Lev. 21:17-21, it is also clear that in order to be ordained to the Levitical priesthood that the candidate could not be:  blind, lame, deformed, crippled, or have any eye defects.

Davis concludes that since it is unlikely that anyone would argue today that a priest, to be an “icon of Christ,” must be an unmarried Jewish male.  He points out that “such characteristics are circumstantial rather than essential characteristics of one who is to assume a full and complete human (not merely male) nature for the purpose of redeeming human nature, both men and women, and bringing them to God.”

Since both male and female are made in the image of God, according to the account in Genesis 1:17, both genders reflect the character of God.

Therefore, from the fact that God became incarnate as a Jewish man:

  1. It does not follow that Jews can be closer to God than Gentiles or that Jews are better “icons” of God than Gentiles.

  1. Nor does it follow that males are inherently better “icons”  of God than women.


The good news has always been that in the New Covenant these distinctions are overcome, according to Gal. 3:28:  “neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”—all have equal access to God and to God’s grace.


Davis drives home the point that:

  1. Maleness is not more similar to the divine essence than femaleness and

  1. The male language of the Trinity is a circumstantial (though not arbitrary) and not an essential characteristic of the Trinitarian revelation of Scripture.

How does human language describe some aspects of God?

  1. God is a spirit by nature and so is not literally a gendered being.

  1. The word “Father” is predicated on a human father.  Though God is like a human father in some respects, he is not just like or only like a human father, but infinitely greater than any human father.

  1. God is also described in Scripture in terms that are impersonal such as:  God is a Rock; a consuming fire; God is light, etc.

  1. The fundamental core assertion of the Triune name of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the personal nature of God.



In a nutshell, Davis points out that since the Triune community is the basis of all human community then the use of “male” language of the Trinity is an analogical revelation of strength and power of God to create and redeem.

“The male language of God is power language that signifies that God is powerful to create and to save—that God is indeed the true God; there is no other.”


~ ~ ~ ~ ~


From Priscilla Papers, Volume 24, Number 1, Winter, 2010.


* * * * *


With Special Thanks to Christians for Biblical Equality

for their ongoing ministry and excellent material on these topics.



Helpful Resources

In order to access further articles on the topic of biblical gender equality, please contact Christians for Biblical Equality.

  • Request information for:  Priscilla Papers or Mutuality.

  • Request CBE’s informative online newsletter called Arise.


Link:  www.cbeinternational.org


        * * * * *



For Further Reflection

1 Timothy 2:1-15 (NIV)

Instructions on Worship 

1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—

2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior,

4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,

6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people.  This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.

7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.

8 Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.

9 I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes,

10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

11 A woman[a] should learn in quietness and full submission.

12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man;[b] she must be quiet.

13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve.

14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.

15 But women[c] will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.


a. 1 Timothy 2:11 Or wife; also in verse 12

b. 1 Timothy 2:12 Or over her husband

c. 1 Timothy 2:15 Greek she

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© 2013   Barb Orlowski, D.Min.

Women in the Church and the Silence Issue


Is keeping women silent in the church biblical?

The practice of keeping over half of the Body of Christ under a perceived ‘command’ that women need to refrain from ‘speaking in the church’ and, therefore, doing very much ministry in their churches, is essentially problematic.

This belief system needs to be examined in light of New Testament teachings to determine whether it is a valid belief and practice in the Church for today.  This continuing persuasion remains a source of frustration for godly women who sense Christ’s call on their lives–to serve him by serving in the Church.

Are women who feel called by Christ to preach and teach, wrongly hearing Christ’s voice and so are potentially at risk of living in sin for doing so?

Unfortunately, some Christian groups would prefer that women “recognize their place.”  These groups would affirm that the biblical teaching about women in the church is just plain ‘black and white,’ that it is quite obvious from the New Testament passages of Scripture, and that this is how godly women in each generation should continue to behave.

Tackling this perception and practice, among various Christian groups today, is not based solely on the fact that women appear to be having opportunities to use their giftings in the work place, in public service, or even that the culture is now open to women in various capacities.  Since the time of the Apostle Paul, Christians have based their beliefs on the New Testament references regarding the place of women in the Church.  This is where the problem lies—in how the passages about Christian women and their ministry in the local church have been interpreted.

With a cold reading and instant interpretation of a very few biblical passages, without further investigation, a belief system has been structured.  The danger with this method of biblical interpretation is that it leaves many things imprecise and unexplained.  It creates a cut and dried Christian faith conviction that is fraught with textual inconsistences.

Men and women must dig deeper when it comes to ingrained views about the role of women and men in the local church.  It is necessary for Christians to examine this issue more fully in order to have answers for themselves and for others.

Stifling women’s voices in the church, based on faulty interpretations of the Bible, does a disservice to women and to the Body of Christ as a whole.

The following article is aimed to help you with your personal research of this important topic.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~


I [Barb] attended a stimulating conference that honored scholarship and wrestling with Scripture in order to understand passages and Christian practices in deeper and richer ways.  I was privileged to attend a session and sit next to a professor who presented a paper on a familiar, yet perplexing passage about women remaining silent in the church.  This passage is First Corinthians 14:34-35.

Dr. Waldemar Kowalski did a masterful job of peeling back the issues one by one and getting to the context and understanding of this passage.  His paper included many footnotes from other authors as well as references regarding the Greek language.

I will not include all of Waldemar’s many references in this article but will cover the central points.  If people have an interest in checking out the cited works and Greek references, this paper could be made available to them.

I have Dr. Waldemar Kowalski’s permission to share the ideas from his paper in a reader-friendly format for my website.  I am delighted to share Waldemar’s insights regarding this passage.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Wrestling with the Text

“Silent Women” in Charismatic Context

Doctor Kowalski engages the reader in the first paragraph of his paper by stating:

“Paul’s command, silencing women in the congregation  (1 Corinthians 14:34-35), continues to perplex the reader.  How is this instruction to be understood in light of the previous guidelines on how women are to pray and prophesy in a congregational setting where men and spiritual powers are present (1 Cor. 11:3-16, esp. v. 10)?”

The reader is reminded that the context of this passage is the mixed worship among the Corinthian believers and that the instructions are given equally to men and women. This eliminates the idea of single-gender worship, which would make no sense.

Scholars have offered various solutions for the 1 Cor. 14:34-35 passage.  The following are a few samples:

  • Some treat these verses as a non-Pauline interpolation, most likely those who are antagonistic to female ministry or to women in general.

  • Some choose to remove the verses, relegating them as architectural artefacts (segregated worship spaces).

  • Some see these verses as an intrusion of pagan practices in Christian worship.

Some scholars treat this passage as a problem to be removed.

Therefore, one must ask:  Do these approaches have merit?

Dr. Kowalski answers this enquiry methodically:

  1. The idea of a Holy Spirit-given interpretation that contradicts what Scripture itself says is clearly wrong.(Gal. 1:8-9)

  1. While disruptive pagan cultic practices and questions shouted out from a segregated seating area may have occurred as disorderly intrusions in Corinthian worship, the text does not indicate this and this suggestion does not have traction in current scholarship.

Craig Keener observes: “Distant seating of men and women would be difficult in a house church, and we currently lack evidence for gender segregation in early synagogues.”

  1. That contemporary culture differs from that of Paul’s Corinth is clear, but discarding the Pauline instruction on that basis is dangerous.  There is nothing in the text to indicate that this was localized either geographically or temporally.

The stress on “all the churches” (v. 33) and the broader Christian community (vv. 36-38) argues to the contrary.

  1. The idea that the Corinthian worshipers themselves were trying to curtail female involvement in worship and that Paul is countering them is dubious:  this chapter is about curbing rather than encouraging disorder.

Kowalski reminds us that this paper’s task is to argue that the verses are not a textual or thematic intrusion.  He clearly states the thesis of this paper:

“Rather than focus on refuting the interpolation theory, we will argue that vv. 34-35 are a continuation of Paul’s instruction on appropriate demeanor and practice in a charismatic worship service.  This work will re-examine these passages to see whether the “obvious” meaning of the text, at least in the common English translations, is also the correct meaning of the text.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Since the bulk of First Corinthians is a response by Paul to a letter received from this church, the modern reader only has one half of the telephone conversation.  This is one of the reasons for the readers’ confusion when reading this epistle.  An issue can be determined along with Paul’s prescription, but there is minimum data from which to construct the causative problem.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Dr. Kowalski suggests three observations as an aid in dealing with difficult texts, and this passage in particular.

Aids in Dealing with Difficult Texts

  1. “The text does not care about the reader’s preference.   We are not permitted to make it jump through hoops like a trained poodle simply because we do not like what it says.   It is the Word of God, not of some theologian or scholar.  We dismiss the text as not applicable to our situation at personal peril.

  1. We can expect the text to have coherence and make sense.  The whole is God’s Word, and we can expect it to be consistent.  In the case of 1 Corinthians, it takes only a few minutes to read from chapter 11, where instructions can be found as to how women are to pray and prophesy, to chapter 14, where instructions can be found which seem to forbid any speaking by women in the church.

The writer expected the audience to make sense of this, so these passages must not be in conflict.  We can expect God not to be confused about his message.  We can expect a certain unity and agreement of message within Scripture, as God/the Holy Spirit is the overall author.

There are divine secrets (Deut. 29:29) as well as divine ambiguities (such as the tension between divine sovereignty and human responsibility), but we can expect Scripture to communicate and to make sense.

  1. We need to understand something about the original audience (and particularly its culture) to understand what  is going on and what the original hearers understood and were meant to understand. 

For instance, 1 Cor. 11, with its instructions on hair, has to do with specific issues in Corinth.  I recommend Bruce Winter’s book:  Roman Wives, Roman Widows.

While other portions of Scripture likewise offer challenges of understanding, instructions on behavior, as found in these two texts, were intended to change behavior–not to confuse the audience.  We need to understand what the original audience understood, in order to understand what it means in our situation today.

We, therefore, can expect to make sense of the text without bending it to our purpose.  On certain points of doctrine there may be divinely intended ambiguity, but in areas of instruction there should be a clear intended outcome.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Understanding What the Original Audience Understood

In order to solve an interpretive puzzle, the reader is required to go back in an attempt to reconstruct the original situation.

1 Corinthians 14 is dedicated to the topic of:

Order in Congregational Worship.

In fact, this whole chapter is dedicated to:

the correction of various disorders in

charismatic congregational practice–

including instructions in vv. 34-35.

When it comes to checking out most English translations of this text, several issues come up.

  • The NIV splits v. 33 in the middle, making the universal rule:  silence for the women.

  • The NASB, KJV, and others see the verse as a unit, making the universal rule that God is a God of peace rather than confusion (which is the topic of the whole chapter).

There are several reasons for rejecting the NIV’s punctuation:

  1. It makes more sense that peace is the universal rule, observed in all the churches.

  1. The repetition of the Greek word in vv. 33 and 34 is very awkward.

  2. Another reason relates to the interpolation theories and textual variants.  In some of the Greek manuscripts, vv. 34 and 35 appear at the end of the chapter rather than after  v. 33 (one of the reasons why some scholars consider the text added later by a scribe).  The newer edition of the NIV (2011) rectified this and renders v. 33 as one logical unit.

To summarize, Kowalski suggests:

  1. The first correction to the English text is that v. 33 proclaims that God is a God of peace and not disorder and that this is to prevail in all congregations, including in Corinth. 

  1. The second correction to the text of the NIV has to do with Paul’s command itself. 

It is noteworthy that three groups are told to be silent under specific circumstance, employing a single Greek verb for all three with identical inflection, varying only in that the third group is plural and the first two employ the singular form. 

Let us look more closely at these three groups.

  1. Speakers in tongues are limited to two or at the most three messages and then they are instructed to be silent if there is no interpreter present.  (1 Cor. 14:27-28) 

  1. Prophets are limited to two or three messages then are to be silent while the others judge. 

The practice may well have been that there were no more than two or three prophecies before discerning the message ensued, with more prophecies then permitted after such judging, given the references to all prophesying (vv. 26, 31).*

*Gordon D. Fee.  The First Epistle to the Corinthians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI:  W.B. Eerdmans Publ. Co., 1987), 693. 

If a prophecy (or possibly this could mean the judging/ discerning of a prophecy) is given to someone seated, the one currently giving the prophecy is to be silent.

The contextual suggestion is that a prophecy had been given but that it had been judged and was found to be lacking.

  1. The third group are “the women” of 1 Cor. 14:34-35, who likewise are to be silent.  Note that Paul is using the same Greek term.

The NIV along with several other modern English translations renders the same Greek verb in three different ways:

  •  “keep quiet”     (v. 28)

  •  “should stop”   (v. 30)

  •  “remain silent”  (v. 34)

Kowalski confirms that the change in translation brings about the logical separation of “the women” from the other charismatics being addressed in this section.

Therefore, if the reader is to make sense of this passage, it is imperative that the correlation of these three groups within these parallel instructions is factored in.

David Miller states that “this triplet is clearly a structuring device.” When there is inconsistent translation, the reader of the NIV may come to the conclusion that:

  • Paul offers mild and specific guidance to those who speak in tongues and prophesy, but

  • Paul offers stern and sweeping directives to women.*

*J. David Miller, “Translating Paul’s Words About Women,” Stone-Campbell Journal 2009, vol. 12, issue 1 Spring (2009).


Who Exactly Are These Women?

Another significant factor is in trying to ascertain the identity of the women purposefully referenced here.

While “women” can be an appropriate translation for the plural form, these particular women have husbands.These women are specifically wives in this context and are to interact with their own husbands.

The reader begins to see that all three of these groups are specifically commanded regarding silence rather than speech in a particular situation.  We must remember that speech itself is not generally being forbidden.

“In fact, the first two groups are first instructed to speak, and secondarily told to limit that speech under certain conditions.  The text does not instruct the wives to speak, however, but they are rather told to be silent, using the same word (in the plural form) used for the tongues-speakers and prophets.”

Common solutions to this passage are to suggest:

  1. The women were chattering or being disruptive because of a segregated worship facility. 

  1. The women were mimicking pagan female worship activity, which could be quite profane and disruptive. 

Kowalski suggests that these are an incorrect assessment since the word used for speaking in v. 34 is used for edifying speech earlier in the chapter.  Not only that, but this word is also noted that the parallel groups also speak, vv. 27 and 29.  Furthermore, this does not resolve the issue of the apparent abrupt change of topic in this chapter on order in charismatic worship. 

At this point, the reader is forced to ask these questions:

  1. Why should this command be limited to the wives? 

  1. Why are they to ask their husbands in private? 

For answers, we are guided to consider the use of the word:  ask.  It is curious to discover that in the 56 times this word is used in the NT, the context is one of interrogation, that is, close to a judicial context.

For other uses of this word, we see it used a number of times when Christ was being tested by the religious authorities and also during his trial.  To paint a picture of its use in the Corinthian church by these women, Kowalski suggests that it was used in public as a judgment/ interrogation by a wife of her husband. Simply stated, this would be offensive and need to be limited.

The context seems to demonstrate that:

  1. Paul commanded judgment of prophecy.

Whether done by the entire church or only the prophets, the fact was that this was a normative practice, when the assembly gathered, this can be established.

  1. While the number of delivered prophecies was being limited, there seems to be no such limitation on the succeeding judgments.

  1. Hence, there is no limitation on the permission of women to judge prophecy–just not that of one’s spouse.

  1. There is an obvious numeric limitation for the third group:  each husband would have only one wife.

Although the English rendering seems to enjoin entire silence of “the women,” this is not actually the case, since there is prior identification of women as prophets.  We see this in 1 Cor. 11:5.

“But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved.” 1 Cor. 11:5

Secondly, there is an instruction that prophets (or the entire congregation) were to judge prophecies.

“Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said.” 1 Cor. 14:29

Kowalski clarifies:  “The charismatic wives are then a third category of those generally permitted to speak, but along with tongues-speakers and prophets, are commanded to limit that speech under specific circumstances.”

Kowalski asks a few questions about various terms.

  1. What about the statement that it is “disgraceful” for a woman/wife to speak in church (v. 35)? 

  1. What about the instruction that the wives are to be “in submission” (NIV) in v. 34?

  1. What about the reference to the Law in v. 34?


Let us look at the possible answers to these three questions:

  1. The word used here for disgraceful is the same word as is used   in 1 Cor. 11:6, where “it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off.”  Both passages refer to things that are considered disgraceful or shameful in the culture of the time.

The context for 1 Cor. 11:6 is the speaking of women in the congregation, with disgrace being not in the act of speaking but in the inappropriate demeanor (an uncovered head).  The disgrace of 1 Cor. 14:35 would also logically be related to inappropriate actions or demeanor (interrogating one’s husband in public) not the act of speaking in itself.

The repeated use of disgrace here in 14:34-35, echoing 11:5-6, reinforces that the activity in question has to do with charismatic worship, and specifically, prophecy.

  1. Earlier Paul observed:  “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.”  (v. 35)

Both the prophets and the wives are to be under control.

Prophets could control their use of their gift and likewise, the wives could control their speech.

Although the wives are instructed to “be subject” there is no specification of to whom they are subject or by whom they are subjected. 

In this case, one thing seems to stand out from Kowalski’s look at the Greek words and their tenses:  “the wives who are prophets are to be in a state of self-control.” 

  1. In 1 Corinthians, Paul refers to the law six times.

  • This use of “law” in v. 34 is not a reference to an identified prohibition in the Old Testament. 

  • This use of “law” cannot be effectively argued as deriving from later rabbinic Judaism or Josephus.

If Paul is not referring to the Old Testament at all, but to the customs of the times, there is a link to the practice of “learning in a state of quietness.”

Kowalski concludes the possibility that: “If the submission of the women is not to some external force or object but rather is a reference to self-control, then the law here may be one of the many references in rabbinic material about learning in a state of quietness.”


Textual Conclusions

From examining this passage, Kowalski determined the following:

  1. This passage is not a change of topic.

  1. This is not an intrusion.

  1. The repetition of terms and parallel construction firmly embed vv. 34-35 as part of this charismatic instruction.

  1. The topic is still the proper employing of spiritual gifts in building up the congregation.

  1. Among the responsibilities of all the prophets was the need to judge or to weigh a prophecy being given, with no indication given that the female prophets were excused from this responsibility.

  1. However, when it came to the issue of a wife judging her own husband’s prophecy, she was to abstain from doing so in the congregation, doing this at home instead.

  1. The disruptive effect of such public action would be offensive in virtually any society! 

In conclusion, Kowalski discerns:

“The instruction to these wives in 1 Cor. 14:34-35 is therefore dealing with charismatic events not general behavior, and these verses belong in the general instructions of Corinthians 14.”



The attempt of various church assemblies to keep women in submission and to keep them silent in church is clearly based on faulty interpretive methods of the New Testament text.

This defective persuasion contributes to the practice of women being under-utilized in the Body of Christ and undervalued as gifted children of God to the Church.

Furthermore, when some groups demand that women be subject to all males in their church, without considering the New Testament message about women in the church as a whole, this misrepresents the biblical text.  (Specific terms for this type of belief system are:  patriocentricity or hyperpatriarchalism.)

This flawed belief system deviously provides ‘biblical grounds’ for abuse of all kinds against women and girls–both in the church and in the home.  This is where the issue of gender inequality takes us!

A clear interpretation of the New Testament points to the fact that in the Kingdom of God, the equal value of men and women is a valid biblical view regarding gender.

What people believe about the roles of males and females in society is vital.  What Christians believe about the place of women and men in the church and in the home is crucial.  What people believe directs how they will actually live.

Entrenched belief systems are hard to dismantle.  When a culture puts greater value on males, as being: 

Central, Superior, and Deserving,

the converse is that females are of lesser value in that society:

Peripheral, Inferior, and Servants.


Has there been a church tradition that has been firmly in place for far too long that needs to be re-examined and then set right?

The answer to this question remains with you.


 Change Begins When Faulty Belief Systems Are Changed!


* * * * *


Paper presented by Dr. Waldemar Kowalski,

Professor of Bible and Theology, Northwest University

Presented at the 42nd Annual Meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies

Seattle Pacific University, March, 2013.


With many Thanks to Dr. Kowalski for permission to use insights from this paper for this website article.


* * * * *


For Further Reflection

There are many books that are available for the serious researcher on this topic.  There are also many online websites and blogs that offer resources and discussions around these topics.

The following is a small sampling of resources:



  1. Grenz, Stanley J.  Women in the Church.  Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995.

  1. Cunningham, Loren, and David Joel Hamilton.  Why Not Women?  Seattle:  YWAM Publishing, 2000.

  1. Bilezikian, Gilbert.  Community 101.  Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997.

  1. Tucker, Ruth A., and Walter Liefeld.  Daughters of the Church.  Grand Rapids:  Zondervan, 1987.


Books Online

  1. Patricia Gundry’s book:  Woman Be Free was named by Christianity Today as one of the most influential books for Evangelicals in the last 40 years.

         This book is Free online at:                                                                                                                               http://noodlefactory.typepad.com/woman_be_free

  1. Patricia Grundy’s book:  Heirs Together: Applying the Biblical Principle of Mutual Submission in Your Marriage.  This book was named by Eternity Magazine as one of the Top 25 books of the year.

It is also Free online at:  




  1. Christians for Biblical Equality

Arise Free Online Newsletter and other Resources



  1. The Barna Group.  “Women Are the Backbone of the Christian Congregations in America.”  March 6, 2000.




  1. New Life       Marg Mowczko



  1. Assemblies of God Website and Resources

Women in Ministry  http://vimeo.com/62179573



  1. Pricilla Papers



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© 2013   Barb Orlowski, D.Min.

Preaching and What I Need to Hear: Sinner or King’s Kid?

Preaching and

What I Need to Hear:

Sinner or King’s Kid?


I don’t need to be told, to be preached at, that I am a sinner.  I kinda figured that part out all by myself.  What I really need to hear is who I really am.  What I need to be told is that I am a child of the King, a daughter of the Creator of the Universe, that I belong among the people of God, that I have purpose and a destiny, that each day is special cuz God made it, that I can do something for God that will last forever, that I can and do please God, and that He and I are in this together—forever.  That’s what I need to hear!

Those are the kinds of things that I need to be reminded of.  Since I am also an inhabitant of planet earth, I often get busy and forget who I really am.  I need to be reminded that I am part of the King’s family.  That’s a laugh, you say.  Well, let me tell you, right here in the Good Book there are lots of things that show me that this is true.

Oh yes, it tells people that they are sinners, just in case they don’t get it–but most people get it.   What is neat is that the teaching from Heaven does not just camp only there.  That would be like going camping and having it rain every day!  Where’s the sunshine??!

The Scriptures really do remind me that I am a child of God, that I am part of a royal family, and that I can live up to my inherited destiny.  As a child I was wowed with the knowledge that:  there was a God, that he loved human beings, and that he sent his Son to die for the sins of mankind because that was the only way that there could be any change with this sin problem.

This Son, whose name was Jesus, and came as a baby at Christmastime was the one that died on a cross on Good Friday, but was resurrected from the dead on Easter Sunday.  Wow, what a story–it just made sense to me as a young child.

Every now and then, as a child, I would do the “what if” thing.  What if it wasn’t true?  What if it can’t be proven?  What if there really isn’t a God and I was silly to buy into a fable or a tradition?  I tried hard to imagine what it would be like if the belief in God was not true; that God just did not exist.

After these short mental excursions, my whole conscious thought rejected that.  I didn’t have to linger any longer in that thought area.  It made logical sense that there was a Creator God and that all that I could see around me was part of his thoughtful creative action.  I was sold, I was and still am a gone goose, that God is alive and well and that he was and is keenly interested in the world: the earth, the people, and all creation.  That means that God, the Creator, the Designer of the Universe is interested in me.  That he has my best interests at heart.  How neat is that?!


What is Often Said

I recently heard about a speaker from a large church in Canada coming to preach locally.  Some of my pals said that they were going to hear him.  I decided that would be good to go since this large church was close by and it would be easy to get to.  In fact, I looked forward to hearing what this preacher might have to say.

After a well-executed effort by the worship team, the speaker was introduced and then he began his evening message.  The preaching confirmed that everyone there was a sinner and made that point by Scripture, personal stories, and some funny comments by people he had met.  It made for some icebreakers and everyone enjoyed the humor.

What was curious was that the crowd gathered was made up of a large number of seniors.  They obviously knew about this preacher and made and effort to get out for this special meeting.  Most of these Christians had a firm hold on the Gospel message.  In fact, many of them probably had been following the Lord Jesus for decades—most of their lives.

That added to my conundrum–why these dear elderly saints needed to be reminded that they were sinners.  They could have, instead, been reminded that they were God’s dear children and how they could continue to live effectively in the energy of the Spirit of Christ that Paul had talked about.

Though the passages the preacher read were clear and accurate and his personal examples backed up the idea that God’s people were sinners and that is the way it is, I began to think that there was much more that needed to be said much sooner in the message.


What I Need to Hear

As I meditated later on the direction of this kind of preaching, I had to think that the speaker needed to get to the good stuff, the Kingdom principle stuff, way sooner in his talk.  When I woke up the next day, the words to my first paragraph, above, began to take shape in my mind.  That was the driver, the inspiration, behind these reflections in this article.

My experience of that kind of preaching got my mind thinking, that God’s people need to be reminded who they are so that they can continue to live and grow into their potential in Christ.  I don’t think that I am alone in recognizing that most preachers try hard to communicate with words that are clear and biblical in order to help change people’s thinking.  After all, it is what and how people think that determines how they live.

Over the years, as a follower of Jesus, I have gained an understanding of the basics of the Gospel.  As a child, I heard that I was a sinner and that I needed a Savior.   I believed what I heard and got the best Savior that I could find:  Jesus Christ.  Actually, he found me, but you know what I mean!!

Knowing that you are a sinner is one of the many things that come with understanding God’s plan of salvation for mankind.  Knowing what sin is, how it is ingrained in the very fabric of our being, and how sin is worked out in our lives, so easily, is a given.  What I really need to know more about, and be retold, is about my new nature, the one that God breathed into me, as he revealed the Good News to my heart.

The Scriptures confirm that no one can be a Christian without the Spirit of God revealing that fact to them.  Christians are people who have responded to that revelation that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that he was born and lived on the earth as a man, and that he took on himself the sins of all of mankind in order to provide a better way for people to live.  Jesus provided a way so that I could have a relationship with the Loving Heavenly Father who longs to know me and be my God.

The new birth was an amazing spiritual transaction.  It will take the rest of my life to begin to understand all that the Godhead has done for me through the cross-work and resurrection of Christ.  This is what I need to be reminded of:  how great God’s salvation is!

I need to be reminded that God has given me his Holy Presence which lives within me.  His Holy Spirit in me is what gives me the knowledge and the confidence to be able to live above the natural down drag that we all are born into.  I need to hang out with other people who have experienced and who seek to understand the magnitude of this new birth, this life like the Resurrected Christ.

What I read the Apostle Paul saying is that it is important for believers to reckon that they have died with Christ and that they are raised up to be with Christ.  Now that is quite the thought.  If Christ was raised from the dead by the Father and that he has ascended to be with the Father, then his place of authority now is:  “seated at the right hand of the Father.”  The New Testament writers confirm that the spiritual position of children of God is with Christ, in heaven, and seated with the Father.  Now that is too marvellous to fathom.


What I Can’t Figure Out

What I can’t figure out is if I can find that so easily in the letters of Paul when I pick up my Bible to read it, why does it seem like these truths are so hidden from view among the people of God?  Why isn’t this good news talked about over the pulpit so much more than it is, if in fact it really is true?!  As I have said before, you are what you eat–then maybe something is missing in our spiritual diet.  We need to get back to organic Bible and feed on that kind of grain.

I need to hear how to live the Christian life.  I need to know that I have the power to do it and that I don’t have to depend on myself, but I have heaven’s resources available to me.  I need to know that I have a Loving Father who will walk with me every step of the way.  I need to know that I have a Brother who has gone to bat for me and has hit it out of the park!

I need to know that my destiny is greater than I can imagine and that God is keenly interested in my growing and understanding how truly amazing it all is.

What I need to hear is that I REALLY AM A CHILD OF THE KING and how I really can live that kind of a life!  I really have experienced the kindness of God.


But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.  He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

                                                                      Titus 3:4-7


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Living as Those Made Alive in Christ

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.  Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature . . .

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And be thankful.  Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.  And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.


                                                         Colossians 3: 1-5a, 12-17


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For Further Reflection

Read through the books of Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians and make a list of the things that Paul is trying to get across to the Christians in those places regarding:  

who they are in Christ, 

what Jesus has done for them, and 

how they were to live on the earth with that Kingdom understanding.

After you have read those passages a few times and have made some good notes, get together with some pals who you can share your insights with and see what they have to share with you from their understanding of those books.


Moravian Prayer:

Lord God, our hope is in you and we are thankful your love for us remains unconditional.  May we as a people delight
in that love as we walk in your path of righteousness.  Amen.


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© 2012   Barb Orlowski, D.Min.

Colossians and What Kind of a Gospel Have You Heard?

Colossians and

What Kind of a Gospel

Have You Heard?



When I look at Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians I have to ask myself:  What kind of a Gospel have I heard?  As the decades roll out, each one of us has been in so many places where the Gospel has been preached, taught, sung, and lived.

There are many Scripture passages that give us a description of our new spiritual state.  As Christians, we need to be reminded of who we are in Christ and the magnitude of what Christ has done to make this a done deal.

Unfortunately, many Christians have gotten such poor teaching on their spiritual inheritance that they still live in the poverty of their salvation, rather than in its riches.

Understanding the Christian Gospel includes a solid grasp of the grace of God in all its wonder.  It is recognizing the Supremacy of Christ and it is living in the power of this Gospel in everyday life.


The Gospel that the Colossians Heard

In the introduction to the letter to the Christians in Colosse, Paul reminds these Christians that the Gospel that they had heard had a couple of dynamic elements.  They understood God’s grace in all its truth and that this Gospel was growing all over the world.  Paul affirmed that Christ was fully adequate for their salvation.

We are informed that Paul’s fellow laborer, Epaphras, was the one who carried the Gospel message to those in Colosse.  Epaphras is described as a colleague of Paul and the brothers with him.  He was a dear fellow servant and faithful minister.  He was sent to minister on their behalf to the church community in Colosse.

Paul and his co-laborers prayed earnestly for this community.  Why?  They prayed so that these saints would be:  filled with God and with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding–in order that they might live a life ‘worthy’ of the Lord and please the Lord in every way.

Paul reminded them that just as they had received this good news by faith, they were to continue to live their lives ‘in Christ’ by faith (2:5, 6).

Paul admonished the Colossian believers to be aware that there was a potential that someone could take them captive.  They were to be alert to what might be lurking.  They needed to know how they could be taken captive.  This could happen through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depended on human traditions and the basic principles of the world, rather than on Christ.

We read this admonition of Paul:

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”                                                                    Col. 2:8


What’s in the Package?

Paul brought a number of things to their immediate attention.  What had the Colossians received in their Gospel package?

  1. The fullness of deity lived in bodily form.

Paul gave Christ’s qualifying characteristics:

Christ was the Head over every power and authority.


   2.  That Christians were those who believed in this Christ.

 They were given fullness ‘in Christ.’


   3.  Christians were circumcised in the putting off of the sinful nature.

This is ancient speak meaning that this ancient Jewish ritual was not done by human hands.  No, it was done by Christ!

This was done through a spiritual relationship, that is, believers in Christ were buried with Christ “in baptism” and were “raised with him” through their “faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.” 

This was the kind of power that raised up this kind of Christ from the dead.

So here’s the thing, Paul was basically telling them:  When you were spiritually dead in your sins and there was no spiritual circumcision in place, just lifelessness—God came to the rescue!  God injected life into a spiritual corpse.

This action equalled:  forgiveness of sins, yes, all of them!

The written code that was hanging over each of them was now cancelled.  It was taken away.  In fact, it was nailed to the cross!

Something amazing happened in that transaction:

Christ’s action disarmed the powers and authorities. 

Christ made a public spectacle of them.  Christ triumphed through his cross-work over all powers.

I am reminded of the song:  “Beautiful Scandalous Night” that incorporates the songwriter’s amazement of this event.  The refrain reminds the listener that it was a “beautiful scandalous night” that sins were atoned for.  This event was all too amazing for words.

The heightened corporate benefit for the Christian men and women of Colosse was in grasping the magnitude of this spiritual transaction was that they, too, were victors, like Christ.  Christians are those who have been born into God’s family and, therefore, are entitled to all of the benefits of this new status.

Paul exhorted these believers not to step away from their position in Christ and get entangled in the tactics that certain individuals could use to beguile them.  Some were rigorously intent on bringing them back into the practices of Judaism in order to secure their merit before Yahweh.  Paul exhorted them:  Don’t get caught up in this waste of time!

The Body of Christ was held together by its design and was primed to grow as God had designed it.  All this other falderal was just fruitless distraction and they were strongly urged to avoid it!

Though there seemed to be a promise in keeping the regulations, it was unfounded since these regulations lacked any value in “restraining sensual indulgence!”  There was just no power in the keeping of them.  There was just no strength to follow through.  The real power was in the true Gospel.


Since You Died With Christ

Paul never tired of reminding believers in the early church that they had died with Christ.  The work had already been done, so why sweat it!

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ,

set your hearts on things above, where Christ is,

seated at the right hand of God.”                Col. 3:1

The Apostle explained that since they had been raised with Christ that they were to set their hearts on things above, where every day, all day, Christ was and is seated at the right hand of God.

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”                                               Col. 3:2, 3

Their lives were both hidden and secure with Christ in God.  Now that is pretty secure, if anyone asks me!

So back here on earth, while waiting for their appearing with Christ in glory, they were to take some meaningful spiritual action.  They were to be vigilant, decisive, and methodical in making sure that they lived Kingdom principles.

With the help of the Holy Spirit within them, believers in Christ were to do the following:

   1.  Put to death whatever belonged to the earthly nature.

   2.   Put on new clothes.

They were to clothe themselves with:  compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

They were to:

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.

Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

They were to put on love:

“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

   3.  Allow the peace of Christ to rule in their hearts.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.”

   4.  Let the message of Christ dwell richly among them.  This would be manifested by good teachings and joyful songs.

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”

    5.  Be thankful.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

The homes of Christians were to exemplify the work of Christ and the grace of God in their lives.  The Greco-Roman Household Codes were a guideline in that society.  Paul urged the Christians to live a much higher standard and gave specific instructions to help believers see how this could be worked out in their daily lives in practical and loving ways. 


Compare The Gospel to the One the Romans Had

This was the same kind of Gospel that the Roman believers had heard.  In the introduction to the Epistle to the Romans Paul outlined the kind of Gospel that they, too, had heard.

This was a Gospel that:

*Yahweh had promised beforehand through the prophets.

*Proclaimed that Jesus Christ, was the God-Man

      -Christ was a descendant of King David


      -Christ was declared with power to be

the Son of God 

by his resurrection from the dead.

*Gentiles could be called to the obedience that comes from faith.

*People were loved by God, belonged to Jesus Christ, and were called to be saints.

*Paul was eager to preach to them about it.

*A righteousness from God had been revealed.

*A righteousness that was by faith, from first to last.

*Righteous followers would live this Gospel by faith.

*Paul was not ashamed of this kind of Gospel!


The Kind of Gospel That We Have Heard

Hopefully, after all is said and done, those of us today can say that the kind of Gospel that we have heard is the authentic one, like the one that the Colossians had heard.

The kind of Gospel that they had heard was the one that gave people life with energy because it had been birthed from Heaven.  The Heavenly Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Precious Holy Spirit were involved in getting this Gospel from the heights of heaven down to earth where it would have the most benefit.

Paul wrote with joy and conviction as he penned the words to this early Christian community.  He was excited for them to be fully grounded in all that came with their heavenly gift.  He did not want them to waste any time in truly living and experiencing this gift of salvation to the fullest.



This is the kind of Gospel that I have heard and have believed. 

What kind of a Gospel have you heard??


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For Further Reflection 

Lyrics for the song:   Beautiful Scandalous Night

by Bebo Norman




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© 2012   Barb Orlowski, D.Min.