John T. Willis

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Biblical Female Teachers, Deacons, Elders, Preachers--Part 2

Before examining and discussing specific texts, two additional introductory considerations concerning female teachers, deacons, elders and preachers as testified according to the Bible need some clarification.

First, there is a widespread scholarly and popular idea or impression that the ancient Near Eastern society in Old and New Testament times was dominated by a patriarchal society, that is, the husband or the father is supreme or superior to women and children. This assumption is deeply embedded in the DNA of modern society, and thus will undoubtedly remain for a long time.

However, when one studies the Bible, it is extremely difficult to support the view that a patriarchal society was dominant among God's chosen people. In sequential blogs, we will discuss numerous texts specifically, but in this blog, we will point out a "survey" of the way the Bible thinks of males and females. This is only general without going into detail.

*At the very beginning of the Bible, Genesis 1:26-27 declares that Yahweh created human beings MALE AND FEMALE. There is NO IDEA AT ALL in this text that there is a HIERARCHY from God above male and then male above female. Such an idea clearly contracts this text. RATHER, God is above BOTH MALE AND FEMALE EQUALLY. Males and females are on the same level before God.

*In the stories of Abraham (Genesis 11:27-25:18), Hagar and Sarah [and other women as well] play a very significant role in these stories. Abraham listens to Hagar and Sarah just like Hagar and Sarah listen to Abraham. There is an equality portrayed in these texts. The same thing is true about the stories of Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.

*In the stories of Moses, women play a very important role. Exodus 1-4, for example, highlight the importance of Jochebed [Moses' mother], Miriam [Moses' sister], the daughter of Pharaoh, Puah and Shiphrah, Zipporah [Moses' wife]. But as the story of Moses continues, there are numerous texts dealing with the importance of women.

*In the stories of Joshua, Rahab plays a very important role in Canaan at Jericho. In the stories of Judges, Deborah is one of the judges and plays a significant role. The whole book of Ruth is built around women, both Israelite and non-Israelite.

*In the stories of the kings, many women play very significant roles. A few examples are: Bathsheba, Abigail, Zeruiah, the woman of Tekoa, the widow at Zarephath, the necromancer at Endor, the women of Israel who sang and danced, and many others.

*The Wisdom, Devotional, and Prophetic Literature in the Old Testament often refer to various activities of women. Think of Proverbs 31:10-31; Job 1-2; Psalm 131; Isaiah 4; Ezekiel 13; and many other texts.

*In the New Testament, many important women play major roles among the people of God. A few examples are: Elizabeth, Mary, Mary Magdalene, Jesus' sisters, Priscilla, Lydia, the woman at the well at Sychar, Philips' four virgin daughters, Euodia, Syntyche, Lois, Eunice, and the list goes on and on.

Second, the revealed message of God and human tradition have always been closely connected in trying to determine what the Bible actually teaches. Many factors feed into this. This includes a knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, a knowledge of the history and society of biblical times, which themselves vary from time to time, the influence of so-called important books, articles, and people whether scholarly or popular, each person's background in the family, church, nation, and society.

In studying any topic, one must decide whether that person wishes to study what the Bible says and teaches or wishes to agree with the views of influential preachers or scholars or churches or universities or other institutions. Several years ago, one church decided to try to study the Bible about a certain topic, and several people left theat church just because they will study this topic.

In the present study, I am assuming each person wishes to study the Bible, NOT one's tradition or the tradition of the church. This very issue lay at the root of the great Reformation with the works of Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and others.

PLEASE be patient as we study together subsequent texts in the Bible concerning God's will about female teachers, deacons, elders, and preachers.

Share YOUR insights and ideas with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


  • I am anxiously awaiting future installments of this series. I'm ready to be challenged and enlightened.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 4:56 PM  

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