by C. Parker Thomas

The following response to the article, “Ministry of Women” was sent to us via e-mail from a Christian sister who appreciates truth.

Dear Brother Thomas,

Your article on Ministry of Women is wonderful. I am also trying to awaken my sisters in Christ to what their position and work under God is for. Women have lost their identity (due to satanic influences) and instead of wanting to be women they seek to be equal to and better than men. That’s been impossible from the beginning. A bird cannot become a horse no matter how badly it wants.

My heart cries when I see so many out of God’s PERFECT will. The churches are filled with such Christians. I’m thankful he’s been merciful to me while I also walked in blindness.

I thank the Lord for a minister who will preach TRUTH. Our churches today are filled with all too many “blind dogs who will NOT bark”!

Be blessed in Christ,
Sis. L.

NOTE: This article, though written a number of years ago, is very relevant to God’s people at this present time. There is a continuing need for us to be delivered from tradition and to move into the place of divine order where God and His Ways will be honored and His people blessed as He desires to bless us.

With a burdened heart for all of God’s people who are in error on this question, I begin this article.

Realizing it is a very controversial subject, I do not expect to please everyone, but with all my heart, I do believe that some will find deliverance and blessing through this message, especially those whose hearts and minds are open to truth. May I humbly beg every reader to bow before God and ask him for grace and humility to receive the truth, even if it be contrary to his former views. Only such a spirit and attitude can be taught by the Holy Spirit. I might add that the great problem with most of us is our own stubborn will which first must be broken before the Lord can mold us into a vessel of honor.

With much heart searching before the Lord, this message is begun. Believe me, I have no prejudice toward women with respect to the ministry. This is no pet theory or doctrine with me, but I do believe the time has come for an unbiased presentation of the truth relative to this subject.

Perfect divine order is at the top of the scale. This is what God wants. Between the bottom and the top you have many variations -- a mixture of good and bad, perfect and imperfect.

The fact that God has condescended to bless his people, even though they have fallen short and been in error on many issues, makes it difficult for some to receive truth.

Were it not for this fact, I fear that none of us would ever have found grace in His eyes. And if only perfect vessels (morally and theologically) can be used in this work by redemption, then absolutely none of Adam’s fallen race would ever be blessed of God.

The fact that God has blessed some women and men who, without doubt have been out of perfect divine order, does not prove a thing is right. Think of the divergent views of many great men of God such as Calvin, Whitfield, Wesley, Moody, Finney and others. No two of these men were in agreement on many great issues. Yet, God blessed them all to a degree. Does this prove their theology correct? Certainly not! Nor does the fact that God has condescended to bless certain women in places of authority over men. Some godly women have filled places of responsibility because there was no man available. They didn’t covet the place of authority but necessity was more or less laid upon them. Such women would gladly have turned the reins of leadership over to a man.

We have been in a great spiritual wilderness. The whole church has been out of divine order. Confusion and chaos have reigned. Light and darkness have been mixed together. Zech. 14:6-7.

God deals with us on the basis of the light we have. He comes down to our level and deals with us in grace. But as we walk in the light we are led ever upwards toward the place of perfect divine order.

Many things are being revealed today that were withheld from earlier generations. This is a crucial hour in the history of the Church and the world. Yet, it is also a glorious hour. The Spirit of revelation is at work like it never has been before. Apostolic truth that has been buried under centuries of man-made tradition and false doctrine is being restored.

Truth reserved and sealed for this day is being revealed. Daniel 12:4. This is the shaking Paul spoke of in Hebrews 12:25-29. Honest hearts are being set free from the vain traditions of men. Everything must be examined in the light of the Spirit of truth.

Many that use the Scriptures to prove a certain doctrine do not understand that the Bible is a divine record of men’s thoughts, actions, words, and deeds. It records the good things as well as the bad. Many things that take place in the Bible, though permitted by the grace of God, cannot be used as doctrine to prove a thing is right.

Some of the greatest characters in the Bible committed terrible sins. And likewise some of the worst characters performed commendable deeds. For instance Moses and David did some terrible things, especially David. Numbers 20:7-13 and II Samuel 11 and 12. On the other hand Ahab, one of Israel’s most wicked kings, was respected by the Lord when he humbled himself before the Lord. I Kings 21:27-29.

Many things that God permitted and blessed to a degree were not according to his perfect divine order. When Israel insisted on having a king like the other nations the Lord gave in to their desire though it was contrary to his perfect will. He even anointed Saul as king and blessed him until he became rebellious and disobedient. I Samuel 10.

It is a great mistake to pick out something that took place in the Bible and try to prove a certain thing is right because that is the way it was done there.

There must first be a desire to do the will of God before we can know his truth. When our own wills are corrupted and bent in a certain direction God will never reveal his truth to us.

This is what Jesus meant in John 7:17 when He said, “If any man will do his will he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”

The Pharisees rejected Jesus because they didn’t like his doctrine (teaching). It crossed their wills and interfered with their self-righteous way of life. Their religion was an expression of their own corrupted wills. That is the reason they could not hear him. Deluded into believing they were right they branded him as a deceiver. John 7:12.

This is also the reason most of the religious world will not receive the truth of God in this hour. Their religion is an expression of their own corrupted wills and they despise any thing that would change them. Such people will only twist and wrest the scriptures to justify their religious traditions.

To find the truth of a matter you must use the specific teaching regarding the subject in mind.

To take the action or deed of some character or group in the Bible or out of it to prove a doctrine and reject specific inspired teaching on the subject is wrong.

The thing I am humbly trying to show you is that, though God has condescended to bless some women where they were definitely out of God’s perfect divine order, it does not prove it is right. These things being so, it behooves us to search the Scriptures with an open mind and heart and walk in the light of the word regardless of our sentiment in the matter. Even as the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years before they crossed Jordan into the promised land the church has been in its wilderness since soon after Pentecost. Yes the church came to the very border of the land, spied it out and sampled the fruit of it, but they fell back. God knew they would. In spite of their error, disobedience and unbelief he has watched over them through all their wilderness wanderings. The more rebellious ones have been judged severely at times.

Once again, we, like Israel, are on the banks of the Jordan. Once again Joshua (type of Christ) and the elders of Israel (ministry gifts of the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers,) are going through the host getting things in divine order before crossing Jordan. Only those who are willing to be put into divine order will be allowed to cross Jordan. Those that cross Jordan are going to possess the kingdom. Hallelujah! Are you willing? Read Joshua 3.

Divine order must come before we possess our inheritance. Not only must Godly women find their places but the men must also find theirs. There are perhaps as many or more men out of order as there are women. Some are trying to do the work of an evangelist that ought to be a pastor. Some are trying to be teachers that are better fitted to be an elder in a local assembly. And there are literally hundreds of would be apostles and prophets that are out of place.

Though God has blessed us all to a degree during this wilderness journey, the greatest manifestation of power and glory will come with perfect divine order.

The flood waters of Jordan are rising swiftly (sin and iniquity). The host is also being sanctified and made ready for the crossing. Jordan always overflowed its banks at harvest time. Joshua 3:15. It is now harvest time and the flood of iniquity is rising. Isa. 59:19, James 5:7, Rev. 12:15-16.

From the standpoint of the natural it is the most difficult time of all to cross Jordan. But that is the very time God chooses to do his greatest work. After it is all over no man will be able to take the glory or attribute his success to convenient conditions. God has purposely chosen the worst possible time (tribulation) to do his greatest work. Matt. 24:21-22, Dan. 12:1. Praise God forever!

Everyone must find his or her place before we cross Jordan.

The first thing I want to consider in the ministry of women is the wrong interpretation of Scripture by those who are in error on this question.

Mary Magdalene is said to be a woman preacher because the Lord appeared to her after the Resurrection and told her to tell the disciples he was ascending to God the Father. John 20:11-18. This was a simple message and errand given to Mary, and had absolutely nothing to do with preaching the gospel.

There is no reference whatsoever to Mary Magdalene in the New Testament that indicates the Lord commissioned her as an evangelist, pastor, teacher, etc. She, along with other women, ministered to Christ and the disciples of their substance. Luke 8:1-3.

Still others label the woman whom Jesus met at Jacob’s Well an evangelist, because she left her water pot and ran into the city of Samaria, telling the people “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?” John 4:29. Can you imagine her doing otherwise after having the Lord Jesus read her life to her? Surely what she did was right but to suppose that this made her an evangelist is stretching your imagination too far.

This was simply a spontaneous act most anyone would have performed under similar circumstances. There is absolutely no reference or hint that this woman was called to be a preacher of any kind.

Others like to point to Priscilla, who with her husband took Apollos and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. Acts 18:26. Yet, this was done privately and with the husband, Aquila, taking the lead.

There is no evidence of Priscilla or any woman teaching in a place of authority over a man in the New Testament.

Another case of stretching your imagination to justify error is the saying that Phebe was the pastor of the church at Cenchrea. Rom. 16:1. Yet, this scripture makes no such declaration. Actually Phebe was simply said to be a servant of the church at Cenchrea ... not a pastor, elder, bishop (overseer), evangelist, teacher, apostle or prophet.

The word translated servant comes from the Greek word “diakonos”. And it means to serve especially in the sense of menial duties such as an attendant, waiter of tables or to run errands. The word is used in the following places in the New Testament; other than Romans 16:1. Matthew 23:11, 22:13, Mark 9:35 and John 2:5 and 12:26. From these and other related scriptures it is easily seen that the principal meaning of the word means to serve in this capacity.

The same identical Greek word is translated deacons in Phil. 1:1 and I Tim. 3:8 and 3:12. In these instances we know it applies to men who were officially ordained to take care of the menial duties of the church. It was the duty of elders to oversee, rule and teach.

Though women were active in the early church, they did not take the lead over men as teachers or rulers of the local assembly.

Another greatly misapplied verse of scripture is Gal. 3:28 which says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

The only thing this verse of scripture teaches is that “we are one in Christ”. But being one in Christ does not make apostles out of all of us. Our gifts and callings vary. This one body is made up of many members and there are no two just alike. Rom. 12:3-8 and I Cor. 12:12-31. Being one in Christ does not change our sex nor calling in the church. Being one in Christ does not change our earthly status with its incumbent duties and obligations.

A man does not cease to be a man. As such, there are certain specified responsibilities such as head of the home, head of the wife and provider that he still has to shoulder.

Neither does a woman cease to be a woman. Her duties as a homemaker, helpmeet and mother remain the same. Neither does being in Christ change a woman’s status to that of a man in the church.

To take one verse of scripture like this and with one stroke attempt to wipe out, make null and void, many other verses that plainly set forth the woman’s place in the home and in the church manifests an utter lack of understanding of the ways of God. God has governing laws of order and arrangement in the realm of the spiritual and the natural. When these laws are violated the result is confusion and often chaos. Sincere obedience brings the blessings of God.

In saving there is neither male nor female, Paul is also thinking in terms of the ultimate and eternal, not the immediate. This is what Jesus had in mind when he said, “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in Heaven.” Matt. 22:30.

Being one in Christ does not by any means nullify God’s divine order for the church, as long as it is in the earth.

Acts 2:17-18 is also used to justify women taking the place of authority as teacher over a congregation. Yet, this is simply a promise of the Spirit being poured out upon all flesh. Certainly, we do not think or teach that the Spirit of God is just for the men. Every member of the body of Christ is one in the Spirit. I Cor. 6:17, 12:13.

From a consideration of Acts 21:9 and I Cor. 11:5, it is evident the woman can be used in prophecy in the church. It is also my conviction that other gifts or manifestations of the Holy Spirit can be ministered through women. I Cor. 12:7-11, 14:26.

Since the scriptures cannot contradict themselves, the silence imposed upon the woman would have to apply to teaching or taking the place of authority over the man. I Tim. 2:11-15.

Even in prophecy or the manifestations of the Spirit, the woman should be under authority. This is what Paul has reference to in I Cor. 11:5 where he says, “every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoreth her head”.

The covering was a symbol of her subjection to her husband or the man. By the wearing of the covering the woman was saying, I recognize my place as a woman. By this she expressed her faith in and obedience to the word of God with respect to her subjection to the man. I Cor. 11:3. Paul did not set a precedent by his teaching: that is why he said, the law also commanded the woman to be under obedience. I Cor. 14:34, Gen. 3:16, Eph. 5:22-24 and I Peter 3:1.

In the true ministry of Christ and the church, men should take the lead with godly women backing them up. From a study of the New Testament we find this is what actually took place under the ministries of the apostles and the Lord Jesus himself. Rom. 16:1-16, Phil. 4:3, Luke 8:2-3.

Regarding the woman and other gifts or manifestations of the Spirit such as the word of wisdom, knowledge, gifts of healing, tongues, interpretation, miracles, faith and discerning of spirits, though the scriptures are silent with respect to the woman having these gifts we know personally from experience that some of these gifts have been manifested through women. But no doubt these gifts as a whole are more manifest in God-called men due to the demands of their ministry. The apostle, prophet and evangelist would probably need the gifts more than the teacher or pastor.

But one thing we can rest assured of, the Holy Ghost equips us according to the need.

With love and kindness to all sincere men and women I plead with you to reject all teaching that would nullify or explain these scriptures away. If they are not for us today then we have no reason to believe in the rest of the Bible.

Remember, the word says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” II Tim. 3:16-17.

Another deceptive line of reasoning that must be rejected by sincere hearts is that Paul would not teach these same things if he lived today because our customs and traditions are different. Holy indignation rises up in my bosom as I think of the subtle cunning ways of the arch deceiver, Satan. That is simply a clever way he has of making simple souls believe his lie. Remember, he is more subtle than any beast of the field. Gen. 3:1. He is also a liar and the father of it. John 8:44.

There is not a single major premise Paul taught which he would change if he lived today.

True, it helps to know some of the customs relative to that day. But knowing them will not change the meaning of the scriptures relative to any needful truth. For instance, it was the custom of the women in Bible lands to cover their head and face with a veil in public places or the presence of men. Gen. 24:65. It is still observed today in some lands. The veil was a token of the woman’s subjection to the man. It was considered immodest for a woman to go without a veil. To publicly go without a veil meant she was in open rebellion against the law of God and man. She was considered to be a lewd woman. That is why Paul said, “If the woman be not covered (with this veil), let her also be shorn.” I Cor. 11:6.

Short hair was the badge of a harlot. For this reason, in some countries the authorities would cut off the hair of women who were known as harlots. Even when I was a boy, women who cut their hair short were looked upon with disdain if not downright suspicion. And, of course, most of our readers know ladies wouldn’t dare attend a church service a few years ago without wearing a hat. These customs are a carry-over of the customs observed by women in Bible lands.

Their purpose was to teach respect for divine order. This is actually the truth Paul was teaching in I Corinthians 11:1-16. The woman’s hair is her glory, the woman is the man’s glory, man is Christ’s glory and Christ is the glory of God. Man is head of the woman, Christ is the head of man and God is the head of Christ. Understanding this custom certainly doesn’t destroy the truth Paul was teaching but rather helps to establish it.

Now let’s consider the Old Testament references that are used as proof texts by some that want to believe it is all right for a woman to teach or usurp authority over the man.

Miriam was a prophetess but it is evident her sphere of influence was restricted to the women. Exodus 15:20-21. On one occasion she rebelled against the leadership of Moses (type of Christ) and God smote her with leprosy. Numbers 12.

Deborah the prophetess was used of the Lord for a brief time to judge Israel during another time of great apostasy. When the time for deliverance came the Lord led her to call for a man, Barak (a type of Christ, the true deliverer), to lead the fight for deliverance. Judges 4 and 5.

A prophetess by the name of Noadiah is referred to by the prophet Nehemiah but it is evident from the context she was a false prophetess who with other false prophets, tried to put fear in God’s true prophet, Nehemiah. Neh. 6:14.

Then there was Huldah, the prophetess who certainly had a prophetic gift which enabled her to prophesy truth and judgment concerning Israel. Though she was a mouthpiece for God during a time of reformation after another great apostasy, Josiah reigned as King over Israel. II Chron. 34.

Out of all the great host of men used as king, judges, priests, prophets, scribes and elders in the Old Testament there is a record of only two women who were used in any capacity over men. None can deny that this was definitely the exception rather than the rule. Think of it, a period of 4000 years and only two women against a host of literally thousands of prophets, kings, judges, priests, elders, and scribes who were all men.

As I have already pointed out, not everything in the Bible can be used as a proof text to justify anyone going contrary to specific teachings on a subject. Many things that happened affecting men and women are recorded not necessarily as a type to go by. The Bible is a record of things as they took place -- good, bad and otherwise. Only the types that lineup with the body of truth as a whole can be used.

Last of all we have Anna the prophetess in the New Testament who served God with prayer and fastings. Luke 2:36-38. Though a godly woman with the Spirit of prophecy she was not a teacher of men.

Now the perfect example and fulfillment of all true types and shadows was Christ Jesus the Lord. Though he certainly honored the woman, recognizing her as the weaker vessel, he never at any time taught or indicated that the woman could teach or usurp over the man.

In the temple worship and the religion of the Jews, men always were in authority. Though many vain traditions had been added to the true worship of Jehovah, Jesus confirmed this aspect of truth by calling and commissioning men only in the work of the kingdom. Of the twelve disciples only men were chosen. Of the 70 sent out only men were chosen.

Godly women actively took part and supported His and the disciples’ ministry but definitely did those things that are expected of the woman who was made to be a helpmeet of the man. Luke 8:1-2. Those godly women did not aspire to be in a position of leadership over the man. They thoroughly understood their position of divine subjection and graciously filled their proper place. The women who so actively stood behind the Apostle Paul likewise understood this and through their moral, material, and prayerful support enabled him to fulfill his office of apostleship to the Gentiles. Romans 16:1-16.

God forbid that anyone despise the woman or discount her importance in the body of Christ. She is important. She has a place to fill. The body needs her and would be incomplete without her. But she is out of place in any position over the man.

Let us now consider the question of types and shadows. The priests that served in the tabernacle in the wilderness were all men. Women could not serve there because the priests, including the high priest, were a type of Christ. The ephod was worn by men only. Ex. 40:13-15. Men only, consecrated as priests of the tribe of Levi, were allowed to carry the Ark of the Covenant. I Chronicles 15:1-15. The Sacrifices that typified Christ likewise had to be a male without blemish. Exodus 12:5.

Man and woman joined together are a perfect type of Christ and his church. Ephesians 5:22-33. And the scriptures emphatically sets forth the true order by saying, “Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even, as Christ is the head of the church: And he is the saviour of the body.”

Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it.” Ephesians 5:22-25.

The Apostle Peter also taught this same truth. I Peter 3:1-7.

To put a woman in a place of authority as teacher or leader of the man would destroy the type completely and put the church over Christ. Though man is not without the woman, I Corinthians 11:8-11 very definitely confirms the divine order of God (with man as head of the woman, Christ the head of man, and God the head of Christ). No scripture or supposed tradition can ever nullify this order as long as the church is in the earth.

The ministry gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers were given “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11-12.

These ministry gifts taken together give us a beautiful picture and type of the perfect ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was indeed an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher. These ministry gifts or offices are simply the ministry of Christ continued through chosen vessels which are in themselves types of Christ.

These offices are never bestowed upon women because it would destroy the type and put the woman (type of the church) over the man (type of Christ). This would make God the author of confusion. I Cor. 14:33.

In confirmation of this truth you will notice that all qualifications for officers in the local assembly apply to men only. I Timothy 3:1-13. Titus 1:4- 9.

Local assemblies were under the leadership of men who were duly recognized and ordained as elders. Titus 1:4-9, I Peter 5:1-5, Acts 20:17-28.

Our world system, and especially America, is against the woman finding her place in the home and the church. The emphasis upon equality of women in business, politics and religion is absolutely contrary to the teachings of the Bible. The Bible emphatically states that she is the weaker vessel. I Peter 3:7.

The practice of women working on public jobs leaving their children in the care of a baby sitter, is the cause of much that is wrong with today’s younger generation. God intended for children to be raised by their own mothers in the home.

Paul says, “I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.” I Tim. 5:14.

Remember also that Titus 2:4-5 says the older women are to “teach the younger women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”

After writing most of this article several years ago, I came in contact with a group that believed very much as we do relative to the body of Christ. However, one of the great differences we soon discovered concerned the place of women in the church.

They rejected practically all the teaching we have set forth on the subject, choosing to believe there is no difference in the man or the woman. Not only do they ordain women elders in their local assemblies, they also believe in women apostles.

They justify their belief by saying that since the anointing is Christ, it makes no difference whether male or female does the ministering. This is their interpretation of Gal. 3:28.

I certainly agree, the anointing itself is not male nor female. Indeed, it is not flesh of any kind. But to interpret the scripture in this manner, building a doctrine that destroys many other scriptures that plainly set forth woman’s place of subjection, is a flagrant violation of divine principle.

Let us remember, it was the anointing that said, “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” I Tim. 2:12.

Their ridiculous interpretation of the above scripture is that it means the woman is not to teach or take authority over the man if she is in the flesh. That is not what the scripture says. For that matter, neither does the man have the right to teach or take authority in the flesh. After our contact with this group I earnestly sought the Lord again with respect to this question. Realizing I could not be dogmatic and unyielding, I intreated the Lord afresh for an answer.

After many days of seeking the Lord about this question I was reminded that the scriptures were still the same. But the Lord was pleased with our honest inquiry and after several weeks he gave us a remarkable vision in one of our church services.

In the vision a woman arose from the congregation and went to the front with a Bible in her hand. She led in the singing and then began to preach. Inside her bosom there was a bright light to begin with, but as she continued ministering the light grew dimmer and dimmer until it almost went out.

Out in the congregation two ladies with lights in their bosoms were prophesying. Suddenly their bodies seemed to disappear but the lights remained and continued to prophesy.

The vision was simply saying that the woman who went to the front and took the lead was out of order. This is why the light in her bosom grew dimmer and dimmer as she continued to minister.

The two women in the congregation prophesying were in order. Their flesh, disappearing was God’s way of saying it’s only when we move in divine order under the anointing that it is neither male nor female. It is indeed not flesh of any kind but Christ ministering through the anointing to his people.

(Note: At the time this article was originally written, the church was experiencing a most unusual Divine visitation that included the visitation of angels. Always, though, the emphasis and foundation continued to be the Word.)

Although we were convinced this was the true interpretation of the vision the angel Aaron was asked about the woman’s place in the church a few weeks later when he came. He said, “A vision was given on this some time back.” Then he continued by saying, “A woman can minister as a part of the congregation but she is out of order in the place of authority or leadership.”

As I bring this to a close I pray what I have said will be received with respect and consideration. I’ve tried not to be harsh or inconsiderate. I truly appreciate godly women; though the weaker vessels by virtue of Him who has subjected all things according to the good pleasure of His own will, (Rom. 8:20-21) they are often the heart of a local church.

May God bless you and give you grace to walk in the light of His word.

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