Bishop=Pastor=Elder, controlling powerful CEO, ekklesia is NOT a church, Gender-Based Limitations, Jewish Temple & Synagogues, office vs. function, ruling position of authority, spiritual leader, Stacked Hierarchy, Top-Down Hierarchy, wannabe King
Jesus got them together to settle things down. ‘You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around,’ he said, ‘and when people get a little power how quickly it goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage. ~ Mark 10:42-45, MSG
I am so tired of hearing male pastors, especially well-known male pastors, teach or preach that God did not intend for Christian women to hold ANY leadership “positions” in Christ Jesus’ ekklesia (the Body of Christ; either small or large local assemblies of called out ones, or the entire Body of Christ). Sadly, I have concluded that these Christian men just don’t understand that God is truly no respecter of persons. He never has been, and He never will be.
Be that as it may, it still blows me away when I either read or hear that these male pastors believe that women who are in spiritual leadership “positions” in Christ Jesus’ ekklesia are out of order—out of God’s Perfect Will. These female spiritual leaders are out of God’s Perfect Will because, according to these male pastors, God set blanket limitations for Christian women, and these restrictions barred Christian women from holding “positions” of spiritual authority over men, simply because the Scriptures teach that Christian women cannot be bishops and elders or shepherds/pastors (see 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5, 1 Peter 5:2-4, KJV). These male pastors also believe that the Scriptures declare that God also restricted woman from teaching authoritatively over men (see 1 Timothy 2:12).
Unfortunately, because of this persistent wrong teaching and preaching, there always will be believers who will see the “position” of pastor as being a “male” only “position.” Put differently, because there is no definition of “church” that means an ekklesia (an assembly of called out ones), whenever the aforementioned male pastors speak against women holding spiritual leadership “positions,” they are talking about only those women who are in the institutional “church,” which is a man-made organization. Thus, until these male pastors fully understand that Christ Jesus’ Body of Believers is about His spiritual called out ones and NOT about spiritual people who identify themselves with a name on a physical building/structure, these male pastors will continue to miss God’s Divine Truth, which is that there are no gender-based limitations for women who are in Christ Jesus’ ekklesia. Conversely, there are plenty of gender-based limitations in man-made organizations, especially the institutional “church”!
Furthermore, the fact that “churchgoers” tend to refer to “pastor” as a “position” or “office,” meaning a ruling position of authority instead of a FUNCTION or service, also adds to the institutional “church’s” ignorance about women being able to be spiritual leaders in Christ Jesus’ ekklesia. The truth is that just like many biblical scholars declare that the word “church” never is used in the New Testament, because whenever Christ Jesus or the apostles are speaking about the Body of Christ, ekklesia is used instead, many biblical scholars also declare that the word “office,” which is in many English translations of 1 Timothy 3:1, 10, and 13 (KJV), is not found in the original New Testament Greek manuscripts, either. Many of these same biblical scholars also declare that even though “office” was added much later, contextually “office” in no way means a ruling position of authority. In other words, “pastor” is not a wannabe king or a powerful controlling CEO’s position of authority, and “pastor” is not a title (e.g., Senior Pastor, Teaching Pastor, or Worship Pastor), nor is “pastor” a part of someone’s name (e.g., Pastor Keen, Pastor Jones, or Pastor Smith).
The point here is that, contrary to the these male pastors’ popular opinions, the Holy Bible does teach that, under the headship of Christ Jesus and the leadership of the Holy Spirit, women have had, and are to be allowed to have, an active role in every part of the Body of Christ. Furthermore, if these male pastors are rightly dividing the Word of God (laying out the Divine Truth in a plain and simple way), then they would know and understand, as well as would be teaching and preaching, that the few times the apostle Paul (the writer of more than one third of the New Testament) does restrict women’s roles in Christ Jesus’ ekklesia, he does so ONLY for particular situations like for the purpose of re-establishing order in an out of order ekklesia, and/or for the purpose of stopping a spiritually “sick” ekklesia from spreading heresy.
That’s why readers will not find in any biblical Scriptures that either Christ Jesus or apostle Paul is establishing rules that limit the Holy Spirit’s work in the lives of women—that women will receive different spiritual gifts and callings than those that men receive. Readers also will not find in any biblical Scriptures that Christ Jesus is saying that women only are allowed to participate in “certain” parts of His ministry. Nor will readers find in any biblical Scriptures that Christ Jesus is saying women only are permitted to speak on/about specified topics.
Therefore, the various denominational “churches” and their male pastors who do not recognize the Holy Spirit’s leadership (His God-given authority and power to work in the life of any woman, which could mean directing that female to be a spiritual leader within a local ekklesia) will make the error of developing rules that restrict the mighty workings of the Holy Spirit. These numerous denominational “churches” and their male pastors also will be guilty of rejecting any Divine Truth that comes out of the mouths of women, simply because these many denominational “churches” and their male pastors do not believe God intended for women to hold any teaching and preaching leadership “positions” in the institutional “church”—a man-made organization!
Then too, what also cannot be found in the Holy Bible are Scriptures that say pastors, elders, or bishops, which basically have similar functions, are to be considered as different kinds of “offices,” nor as a stacked hierarchy (or top-down hierarchy) that depicts, for example, the bishop as being over the pastor, the pastor as being over the elder, the elder as being over the “church” members, and so forth. Nevertheless, the sad truth is that today’s institutional “church” clearly has a stacked hierarchy (or top-down hierarchy)!
In most of the 21st century’s local churches, there is one “church” position over another “church” position, over another “church” position, and et cetera. The reason why this stacked hierarchy exists in the contemporary institutional “church” is because men (and women) love to lord it (his/her personal greatness, or natural talents, or spiritual gifts) over another man (or another woman), in spite of the fact that the Holy Bible plainly teaches that Father God and the Lord Christ Jesus do not approve of power and control-based “church” leaderships (cf. Matthew 23:8, 10; Mark 10:42-45; Luke 22:25-26; 1 Peter 4:10).
What God really teaches in His Word about women functioning in an ekklesia as a spiritual leader, however, certainly is not in harmony with the institutional “church” male pastors’ leadership “positions,” nor in harmony with the analogy these aforementioned popular pastors use to support their wrong-thinking belief about the “positions” women cannot or can hold in the institutional “church” (i.e., a man-made organization). The analogy they use the most is the comparison between the natural family, over which the husband is the head and the wife is the husband’s helper, and the spiritual family, over which Christ Jesus is the Head and every man and woman under Him is His helper—His servant. The point here is that, while God via His written Word does give the man the authority to rule over his own household, in a non-adversarial manner, which is understood to mean he is to rule in love and in collaboration, according to 1 Timothy 3:1-7, the man who functions as bishop (pastor, or elder, see Titus 1:4-9) only is supposed to take care of (cf. 1 Timothy 3:5) the Body of Christ (ekklesia) and not rule over the Lord’s helpers/servants like a wannabe king or a powerful controlling CEO!
Put differently, believers’ modern-day understanding of a controlling powerful CEO/bishop or CEO/pastor is NOT described in the Holy Bible! The reason why this last statement is true is because such a “position” or “office” of control and power would usurp not only the Lordship of Christ Jesus but also the leadership of the Holy Spirit, no matter if it were a male or a female who is in that “office”!
The truth of the matter is that God dealt with the issue of headship in the Body of Christ the moment He made the Lord Christ Jesus the Head of every believer. In other words, God put every Christian woman and every Christian man under the Lord’s Headship. As such, every man and every woman who is born again, saved (justified), and who is being sanctified has become Christ Jesus’ spiritual Wife/Helper (Bride), which means that in Christ each man is His Wife/Helper and each woman is His Wife/Helper. Therefore, every one of Christ Jesus’ male and female Bride AUTOMATICALLY is authorized by God to operate as a minister (servant of God and Christ Jesus), an ambassador (representative, messenger or envoy), and a watchperson (sentinel or guard), with each function having the equal importance that Father God’s Holy Spirit has given to every believer who is in Christ. Put differently, every male and female’s function will have the same worth, no matter if he or she is willingly sharing the Holy Bible’s Good News or is willingly warning the Body of Believers and the masses of unbelievers of impending dangers, and so forth.
By the way, contrary to popular opinions, THE Head of God’s “spiritual” family (God’s Household of Faith) doesn’t have any children. For sure, the Lord Christ Jesus not only has helpers/servants but also He has siblings (brothers and sisters) who are joint-heirs with Him—each believer is a sibling who, after obtaining something assigned to him or herself, shares what he or she has received with other siblings. Therefore, another reason why the “natural” family analogy does not apply to the “spiritual” family is because EVERY child in a natural family does not ALWAYS become a co-heir (every one of a father or mother’s children won’t always be a joint-heir), because often ONLY the first-born gets all of an estate, and he or she often does not equally share that estate with other siblings! However, in contrast, Christ Jesus’ joint-heirs (co-heirs, co-participants, brothers AND sisters) each share with Christ Jesus His spiritual treasures, heavenly inheritance—His God-given authority, power, supernatural gifts, and so forth—so that each child of God (the Lord’s brothers and sisters) could be a witness for Christ Jesus.
In other words, The Head of the “spiritual” family, God the Father’s only begotten Son, is the One who gives to all of His brothers and His sisters, via the Holy Spirit, the spiritual leadership functions of prophet, apostle, evangelist, pastor, and teacher! Even though sometimes an anointed man or woman may have the spiritual gift of impartation (might be able to lay hands on people and transfer his or her spiritual gifts or spiritual leadership function(s) to another person [see Acts 8:14-17; Romans 1:11-12; 2 Timothy 1:6]), NO man or woman has the authority or power to deny anyone the right to function as God (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) has intended for the Household of Faith men and women to function.
The bottom line is that even though all Scriptures are inspired of God (God breathed, His sanctioned authority, truth, commands, etc.), every Scripture does not inspire us (lead us or urge us) to behave the same way. For example, the Holy Bible has many Scriptures on stoning, polygamy, and sexism, but just because these cultural customs are in God’s Word that doesn’t mean He is saying it is okay for New Testament Christian believers to follow suit.
The point here is that, where the issue of women being in “church” leadership roles is concerned, 21st century believers are not obligated to do everything the way God’s Jewish people did it just because, for example, women were not permitted to study, teach, or preach in the Jewish Temple and synagogues. Without doubt, the Scriptures mostly do describe traditional Jewish culture, which the Mosaic Law shaped, and in this culture Jewish women not only were considered to be their fathers or husbands’ property instead of their own person, but also Jewish women were forbidden to study the Mosaic Law, forbidden to greet men in public or hold a conversation with them (to avoid the temptation of looking, talking, or touching women, Jewish religious leaders would close their eyes when a woman was near), forbidden to participate (speak) in the Jewish Temple or synagogues’ services, forbidden to stand next to men while worshipping inside the Jewish Temple or synagogues (the women had their own court in the Temple, and they stood in the rear of synagogues), and forbidden to provide formal teaching for children.
In other words, Jewish women were considered “good” Jewish women, only if they fulfilled their duties: cooked, cleaned, left their fathers, brothers, sons, and/or husbands alone so they could spend time studying the Scriptures, and if they sent their sons to the synagogue. However, nowhere in the biblical Scriptures does God, Christ Jesus, or the apostle Paul ever teach that New Testament believers were to treat women the same ways Jewish religious leaders, wealthy and prominent Jewish men in Jewish communities, and ordinary Jewish men treated women.
Then too, where the issue of women being in “church” leadership roles is concerned, it is important to note here that not only are most of the oldest manuscripts of the New Testament in the Greek language, but also some of the Greek culture can be found in biblical Scriptures. Even so, 21st century believers are not obligated to do everything the way the Greeks did it. Just because the Greek culture also did not hold a high opinion of women that doesn’t mean that God gives modern-day believers the okay to treat women the same way.
Historically, Greek women often were pigeonholed as either temple priestesses (sacred prostitutes) or “proper” women, with “proper” women not being allowed to go out in public unaccompanied. They also were not allowed to attend any public gatherings. Just the same, there is nowhere in the biblical Scriptures that God, Christ Jesus, or apostle Paul ever teaches that New Testament believers are to follow the Greeks’ common practices. In spite of these widespread common practices of the Jews and the Greeks, as mentioned earlier, the few times the apostle Paul is forced to restrict Christian women from functioning as spiritual leaders is when he had to re-establish order in an out of order ekklesia, and when he had to stop a spiritually “sick” ekklesia from spreading heresy.
Apostle Paul was not the only one who acknowledged that God intended for women to be allowed to function as spiritual leaders in Christ Jesus’ ekklesia. There also can be no doubt that the Lord’s radical treatment of women is the standard that today’s believers must follow. Though He was a Jewish man who knew the Mosaic Law, inside and out, where women were concerned, Christ Jesus still broke with Jewish culture, and He did so on purpose. The best examples of the many Jewish cultural customs He broke with, primarily by emphasizing the Spirit of the Law instead of just the letter of Law, are found in the biblical verses that deal with the Lord healing a woman who had an infirmity for 18 years (see Luke 13:10-17).
First, Christ Jesus breaks with Jewish culture when He, while teaching in the front of a Jewish synagogue, summons the woman who had an infirmity to come up front where the men were standing (v. 12). Next, He breaks with Jewish culture when He speaks to (holds a conversation with) this same woman (v.12). The third way He breaks with Jewish culture is when He touches this woman—lays hands on her (v. 13). Then too, He breaks with Jewish culture when He heals this woman on the Sabbath—restores her body’s health and restores her position in the Jewish society (vv. 13-14). Lastly, the Lord breaks with Jewish culture when He insists on how much this woman is worth to Him and, thus, how much she should be worth not only to that Jewish community but also to the Jewish society as a whole. Why? Well, it is because she’s a daughter of Abraham and, as such, she is worth far more than any farm animal that the hypocritical religious leaders no doubt had let out of its stall and led to a watering troth on this same Sabbath (vv. 14-15).
There are many other examples of the Lord breaking with Jewish culture. Some of these other examples can be found in Matthew 9:20-22 and Luke 8:43-48, when the Lord calls out to (Luke 8:45) and talks with (Matthew 9:22 and Luke 8:48) the woman who has an issue of blood, who touched the hem of His garment; in Matthew 14:13-21 and Mark 6:30-44, when Christ Jesus publicly teaches, heals, and feeds the 5,000, a multitude that included men, women, and children; in John 4:27 when He talks to the Samaritan woman who was at the well; and so forth.
The Scriptures also have plenty of evidence, which supports these statements: The Lord had women who were active in His ministry, and He was extremely sensitive to or with, and affirming and accepting of women. Perhaps this is the reason why, unlike it is with the modern-day local “churches” and their male pastors, the early assemblies of called out ones followed Christ Jesus’ lead. They too had women who were very active in their individual ekklesia, beginning from the 10 days just before the Day of Pentecost and continuing on to the Day Pentecost and beyond (cf. Acts 1:12-14 and Acts 2ff). That’s why The Book of Acts proves that the early assemblies of called out ones indeed were very open to women, because these early assemblies were, for example, allowing women disciples to pray right along with the original 11 disciples and other male disciples, allowing women to share their spiritual gifts bestowed upon them via the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, allowing women to teach (see Acts 18:26), and allowing women to prophesy.
Once again, even the apostle Paul had women who were very active in his ministry. In fact, in Romans 16, he mentions many of these women and their important functions: Phoebe, who served as a deacon in Cenchreae; Priscilla, who, along with her husband Aquila, traveled with Paul and functioned as his helper/co-worker (see also Acts 18:24-26); Mary, who served in Rome; Junia, who in several English translations is a called an apostle; and Tryphena, Tryphosa, and Persis, who are three woman who are commended for their hard work. Paul also makes references to other women in some of his other letters, and these women pray and prophesy in public (see 1 Corinthians 11:5); or they labor with him in the Gospel (see Philippians 4:2-3); or they receive deaconess instructions (see 1 Timothy 3:11).
Once again, it is from Christ Jesus’ teachings and Paul’s letters that today’s believers are given various examples of women who were operating in prominent ministry functions. These examples more than suggest that these women were meant to be included in every aspect of both Christ Jesus’ ekklesia and today’s institutional “church” life.
This is the correct conclusion to draw from New Testament Scriptures, because nowhere in the New Testament Scriptures are there any indications that there are spiritual gifts that have been limited to ONLY men (see 1 Corinthians 12:7-11; 1 Corinthians 14:31; and 1 Peter 4:10, NCV). Then too, nowhere in the New Testament Scriptures are there any indications that there is a hierarchy of men, for because of Christ Jesus’ atoning sacrifice every believer now is called God’s priest (see 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6; and Revelation 5:10). Thirdly, despite the fact that most Christians believe Galatians 3:28 only pertains to the egalitarian position on salvation, which is that God is no respecter of gender, for He gives no preference to male or female regarding salvation, Galatians 3:28 also is apostle Paul’s egalitarian position on ministry opportunities being equally open to women and men.
According to Paul, it is because Christ Jesus has removed EVERY human distinction, a removal that made it possible for the Holy Spirit to unite Jews and Gentiles, males and females, and slaves and free persons as One Body in Christ, that every believing Jew and Gentile now equally shares a joint-heir relationship in the same family (God’s Household of Faith), every slave owner or master now readily accepts former slaves as brothers and sisters, and every man now absolutely has NO excuse for not understanding that women also were meant to serve God and Christ Jesus in an unlimited capacity within the Lord’s ekklesia (today, the institutional “church”). In other words, this last point means God always intended for believing women to be allowed to function as teachers of men and as spiritual leaders who have authority over Christian men.
Summing up, every believer’s Christian duty is to function as a servant of God, serving others just like the Lord served others. When the Lord ministered to others, He did so without regard to gender, or ethnicity, or age. That is why born again, saved (justified, righteous), and being sanctified (being made holy) men and women are equally empowered and equally spiritually gifted (Christian men and women receive the SAME Holy Spirit-given power and authority and some of the SAME Holy Spirit-given spiritual gifts). So then, to teach and preach that God has restricted Christian women from being spiritual leaders is to say that the Holy Spirit gives Christian women power, authority, and spiritual gifts that are INFERIOR to the power, authority, and spiritual gifts Christian men receive.
In fact, the male pastors who are preaching and teaching against Christian women functioning as spiritual leaders are indeed saying that Holy Spirit filled women are still nothing more than Holy Spirit filled men’s “natural” wives who, because they are “weaker” vessels, are not given the same kind of “natural” responsibilities as their “natural” husbands are given. In other words, since “natural” wives are not given the same “natural” responsibilities as their “natural” husbands, this truth is why God restricts Christian women from using their supernatural power, authority and spiritual gifts, because these Holy Spirit filled women are “weaker” vessels, which translates as Holy Spirit filled women have been given INFERIOR power, authority, and spiritual gifts!
The above kind of stinking thinking not only is ludicrous but also an outright lie and fallacious representations of God, Christ Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. The Divine Truth is that Christ Jesus does not approve of the gender-based limitations Christian men have placed on the kinds of functions God has “called” each born again, saved, and being sanctified woman to fulfill in Christ Jesus’ ekklesia, which some believers still erroneously think is the same thing as today’s institutional “church,” but an ekklesia IS NOT the institutional “church”!
News Flash: Other than the institutional “church” pastor, Christ also gave His ekklesia additional spiritual leaders whose functions are meant to edify and minister to the Lord’s ekklesia. That’s why there are believers who function primarily as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors/shepherds, and teachers, with some having multiple functions (e.g., minister, evangelist, ambassador, teacher). However, after men and women changed the Lord’s ekklesia to their organized institutional “church” structure, they then made “church” pastors a CEO of sorts. Sadder still is the fact that pastors today are presented as being the wiser, MORE important, MORE knowledgeable, and MORE spiritual members in the Body of Christ than those members who function as apostles, prophets, evangelists, and teachers!
Finally, I leave my readers with this thought-provoking question. Since there is nowhere in the Scriptures that women are told ONLY saintly men will rule and reign with Christ Jesus during His 1,000-year reign, then why on Earth would God allow women to rule and reign with Christ Jesus in the Millennium but restrict women from functioning as a spiritual leader over men who are in this “Church” Age’s Body of Christ?
For additional information on this subject matter, please read my following blog entries: The False Pretense Of Being Divided By FAITH; The Spiritual Disorder In Today’s CHURCH; A Sheep, IS a Sheep, IS a Sheep?; and Church Is the Globally Recognized Spiritual Body of Christ