The Time Jesus Shunned a Woman for Preaching

One of my favorite stories in the New Testament is one found in Luke 25. Jesus walked into the temple to find a woman preaching. When He realized what was happening, He walked up to the pulpit and pushed the woman off of the stage. He then said, “No woman should have authority over any man, for it is impossible for a man to learn from a woman. I say to you, strike down any woman that tries to pastor a church.”

Do you know why I love that story? Because it never happened. 

What the New Testament does show, however, is Jesus helping, loving, and lifting up every woman He came in contact with. John 4 shows a Samaritan woman’s encounter with Jesus and how it moved her to share His message with the “men” in her town (verse 28). The Bible says that many of the men believed because of her. 

As their conversation started Jesus told the woman to go call her husband and come back. In those days a woman was not to talk to a man in public without her husband present, but this isn’t why Jesus said that. Jesus brought this up to expose the sin in her life.

Jesus wasn’t interested in stale gender roles and following what the culture at the time thought was “right.” He valued the woman and saw her worth as a human being. 

The story in John 4 is the true story, but so many people today act like the story in “Luke 25” is what really happened. If being a Christian literally means being a little Christ, maybe we should start by treating both men and women the way He did.

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32 

 

 

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18 thoughts on “The Time Jesus Shunned a Woman for Preaching

  1. “So he could reveal the sin in her life? What sin? She’d been married 5 times. She could not divorce her husband, so she had either been cast off in divorce or widowed. If she were not given a bill of divorce, she could not marry again, so if husband number five threw her out of the home she had a few choices – begging, prostitution, or living with a man she could not marry.

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  2. After reading your post it was on my heart to share this:

    There is perhaps no more hotly debated issue in the church today than the issue of women serving as pastors/preachers. As a result, it is very important to not see this issue as men versus women. There are women who believe women should not serve as pastors and that the Bible places restrictions on the ministry of women, and there are men who believe women can serve as preachers and that there are no restrictions on women in ministry. This is not an issue of chauvinism or discrimination. It is an issue of biblical interpretation.

    The Word of God proclaims, “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent” (1 Timothy 2:11–12). In the church, God assigns different roles to men and women. This is a result of the way mankind was created and the way in which sin entered the world (1 Timothy 2:13–14). God, through the apostle Paul, restricts women from serving in roles of teaching and/or having spiritual authority over men. This precludes women from serving as pastors over men, which definitely includes preaching to them, teaching them publicly, and exercising spiritual authority over them.

    There are many objections to this view of women in pastoral ministry. A common one is that Paul restricts women from teaching because in the first century, women were typically uneducated. However, 1 Timothy 2:11–14 nowhere mentions educational status. If education were a qualification for ministry, then the majority of Jesus’ disciples would not have been qualified. A second common objection is that Paul only restricted the women of Ephesus from teaching men (1 Timothy was written to Timothy, the pastor of the church in Ephesus). Ephesus was known for its temple to Artemis, and women were the authorities in that branch of paganism—therefore, the theory goes, Paul was only reacting against the female-led customs of the Ephesian idolaters, and the church needed to be different. However, the book of 1 Timothy nowhere mentions Artemis, nor does Paul mention the standard practice of Artemis worshipers as a reason for the restrictions in 1 Timothy 2:11–12.

    A third objection is that Paul is only referring to husbands and wives, not men and women in general. The Greek words for “woman” and “man” in 1 Timothy 2 could refer to husbands and wives; however, the basic meaning of the words is broader than that. Further, the same Greek words are used in verses 8–10. Are only husbands to lift up holy hands in prayer without anger and disputing (verse 8)? Are only wives to dress modestly, have good deeds, and worship God (verses 9–10)? Of course not. Verses 8–10 clearly refer to all men and women, not just husbands and wives. There is nothing in the context that would indicate a narrowing to husbands and wives in verses 11–14.

    Yet another objection to this interpretation of women in pastoral ministry is in relation to women who held positions of leadership in the Bible, specifically Miriam, Deborah, and Huldah in the Old Testament. It is true that these women were chosen by God for special service to Him and that they stand as models of faith, courage, and, yes, leadership. However, the authority of women in the Old Testament is not relevant to the issue of pastors in the church. The New Testament Epistles present a new paradigm for God’s people—the church, the body of Christ—and that paradigm involves an authority structure unique to the church, not for the nation of Israel or any other Old Testament entity.

    Similar arguments are made using Priscilla and Phoebe in the New Testament. In Acts 18, Priscilla and Aquila are presented as faithful ministers for Christ. Priscilla’s name is mentioned first, perhaps indicating that she was more prominent in ministry than her husband. Did Priscilla and her husband teach the gospel of Jesus Christ to Apollos? Yes, in their home they “explained to him the way of God more adequately” (Acts 18:26). Does the Bible ever say that Priscilla pastored a church or taught publicly or became the spiritual leader of a congregation of saints? No. As far as we know, Priscilla was not involved in ministry activity in contradiction to 1 Timothy 2:11–14.

    In Romans 16:1, Phoebe is called a “deacon” (or “servant”) in the church and is highly commended by Paul. But, as with Priscilla, there is nothing in Scripture to indicate that Phoebe was a pastor or a teacher of men in the church. “Able to teach” is given as a qualification for elders, but not for deacons (1 Timothy 3:1–13; Titus 1:6–9).

    The structure of 1 Timothy 2:11–14 makes the reason why women cannot be pastors perfectly clear. Verse 13 begins with “for,” giving the “cause” of Paul’s statement in verses 11–12. Why should women not teach or have authority over men? Because “Adam was created first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived” (verses 13–14). God created Adam first and then created Eve to be a “helper” for Adam. The order of creation has universal application in the family (Ephesians 5:22–33) and in the church.

    The fact that Eve was deceived is also given in 1 Timothy 2:14 as a reason for women not serving as pastors or having spiritual authority over men. This does not mean that women are gullible or that they are all more easily deceived than men. If all women are more easily deceived, why would they be allowed to teach children (who are easily deceived) and other women (who are supposedly more easily deceived)? The text simply says that women are not to teach men or have spiritual authority over men because Eve was deceived. God has chosen to give men the primary teaching authority in the church.

    Many women excel in gifts of hospitality, mercy, teaching, evangelism, and helps. Much of the ministry of the local church depends on women. Women in the church are not restricted from public praying or prophesying (1 Corinthians 11:5), only from having spiritual teaching authority over men. The Bible nowhere restricts women from exercising the gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12). Women, just as much as men, are called to minister to others, to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23), and to proclaim the gospel to the lost (Matthew 28:18–20; Acts 1:8; 1 Peter 3:15).

    God has ordained that only men are to serve in positions of spiritual teaching authority in the church. This is not because men are necessarily better teachers or because women are inferior or less intelligent (which is not the case). It is simply the way God designed the church to function. Men are to set the example in spiritual leadership—in their lives and through their words. Women are to take a less authoritative role. Women are encouraged to teach other women (Titus 2:3–5). The Bible also does not restrict women from teaching children. The only activity women are restricted from is teaching or having spiritual authority over men. This precludes women from serving as pastors to men. This does not make women less important, by any means, but rather gives them a ministry focus more in agreement with God’s plan and His gifting of them.

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    1. I appreciate your comment and your kindness (something that I rarely get from people opposing my view), but I believe what I believe to be the truth. Just as you believe your interpretation of the Bible to be right, I believe mine to be right as well. Believing that women can’t be pastors is oppressive and sexist and NOT the way Jesus lived. To believe that it is not is simply the result of years of brainwashing in my opinion. Ask yourself this: Would Jesus walk into a church where a woman was teaching men and tell her to cut it out?
      Again, thank you for kindness! I do appreciate it! 🙂

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      1. I see where you are coming from. And, no I don’t think Jesus would walk into a church where a woman was preaching and tell her to cut it out. I also have to add that my beliefs have nothing to do with brainwashing. As I read scripture, and you can see where scripture reference is left in the post above, this is what I see to be true. It is clearly in His Word. I can’t just pick and choose which scripture I will accept because it supports what I believe. I have to look at it all in context and then further study and pray about it. This has nothing to do with how I FEEL or years of brainwashing.

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      2. “Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “My house will be called a house of prayer,” but you are making it a den of robbers.” So if a woman was teaching men (like you believe is wrong), Jesus would NOT tell her to cut it out? What makes you think He wouldn’t? I am a little puzzled. You can’t accuse me of picking and choosing and going by my feelings, because I could say the same about you.

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      3. Your story was amazing & shows the difference between a loving God-man Jesus and mohamed & the way women were and are treated then & now. As a Nazarene Pastor we welcome & even encourage women to become ministers as well as fully ordained Pastors. Sadly too many people are ugnorant of Gods written word & have twisted & distorted it to control the minds of the lazy people who choose to not read & study it. God did & does use women in all kinds of roles & sadly probably more than may have been His original plan because men have dropped the ball when it comes to leading His church. Thank you for that article & I hope you won’t mind if I use it as sermon illustration some day. Lord bless you & your ministry.

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      1. Agree, TeresaR. To whom should single adult daughters as questions? Their father, if living? To whom should widows ask questions? To whom should never-married females ask questions? Should they ask other godly women? Or should they get on the phone and ask the senior pastor? I don’t think so…..

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    2. A pastor is not the BOSS in a congregation. He has to get permission from the Church Council for various things, like taking holidays. The Church Council can dismiss him from the congregation. The Church Council usually consists of women, in some congregations/parishes some of whom are the chairperson. The pastor is not the AUTHORITY in all things, only spiritual matters, because he has had the training. Women who have had the necessary training can also be AUTHORITIES in spiritual matters. There are women who feel called by God to be pastors (I’m not one of them), so should we ignore God’s calling for these women? Some men become pastors because their parents want them to & are usually not very effective in the role, because God hasn’t called them.
      Don’t forget that Adam WAS ALSO DECIEVED by Satan. ‘The Old Adam’ is our sinful selves, not named after Eve, but after Adam.
      We no longer have ELDERS in our church, but PASTORAL ASSISANTS instead – men & women who are there to assist the pastor in various fields within the congregation, including serving Holy Communion. Please remember that the pastor is a SERVANT of the congregation, just as Jesus came to SERVE.

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    3. I have a few thoughts on this. I’ve done a deep study on Christian leadership and only lately have been thinking about how my findings relate to women in ministry, because of some recent discussions.

      One is that “deacons” and “elders” are not different positions in the church. This is really clear if you look in the Greek. The term “Elders” is used to describe bishops and apostles as well. These are not different leadership positions but are used interchangeably.

      “Deacons” is not even a translation at all but is a transliteration. The Greek word is almost always translated either “servants” or “ministers”, and this is used in scripture to describe apostles, pastors, bishops, and any kind of Christian minister, even Jesus. The KJ even went so far as, in downright dishonesty, translated what is almost everywhere else “to serve” or “to minister” as “to exercise the office of a deacon.”

      The same language in Greek that was used to describe Phebe is used to describe the apostles and other leaders. Paul in the Greek called himself a “deacon” many times. The word translated “succourer” in the KJ (meaning helper), was the noun form of the same word which was poorly translated “rule” and “over you” in the KJ as speaking of leaders in Timothy. It’s too much to get fully into in a comment like this, but it was pure translation bias. In one place they translated a word “to rule”, and in another place, the noun form of the same word “a helper.”

      You will find this bias very consistently, especially in KJ, but if you look at the Greek it is amazing. You are saying that a woman can’t have authority over a man in teaching. I would say that no leader in the body of Christ has authority over another individual believer-not even an apostle. Scripture prohibits that. We see two kinds of authority in the body of Christ-the authority of scripture and truth, which is the authority to pass on Christ’s commands, and delegated authority in the context of a certain task, but not over the lives of individuals. So even for a man, teaching is not a position of authority over other individuals. And if a woman teaches, she is not being put in a position of authority over men. If what she teaches is true, then the authority in the teaching is in the truth of scripture, not of her being over other people.

      I think that understanding the cultural context of Diana worship is very valid. Diana was worshiped in “all the (known) world” as we read in scripture, at least according to the claims of her worshipers. This was not just in Ephesus. If you study Diana worship, it becomes amazingly clear that Paul was directly confronting the false teaching and idolatrous practices of Diana worship. Paul was not appealing to the creation story to make a point that women can’t teach men. He was directly refuting the false creation story of Diana worshipers who said that the woman came first and created man. Even the confusing part about women being saved through childbirth makes sense if you study it in this context because he was directly refuting the same false teaching.

      There are two many solid examples of women who were leaders in the New Testament to ignore. A lot of the arguments that these women did not “teach men” are based on interpreting the scripture and not according to the history and context of that time. When we understand that, it becomes clear that even the women named who had a church in their house were pastors. Who do you think the “elect lady and her children” that John wrote to were? Some of those whom Paul called literally “co-workers” with him in the gospel were women, and Paul’s main work in the gospel was teaching and preaching.

      Then there was Junia whom scripture names as a female apostle. Some tried to modify her name to make it look masculine, but even three of the church fathers wrote of her as a women and an apostle.

      I think that we have enough basis in the New Testament to seriously doubt that it really teaches a universal ban on public speaking in the assembly, or on teaching men. I also think that it is grievous when we see women ministering who clearly are demonstrating the grace and Spirit of God, but then reject what is happening because “women can’t teach men”. How many thousands of men were born again at Full Gospel Businessmen’s meetings in which a women preached? Many.

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  3. Thanks for this, girl! In my own struggles with Biblical interpretation of gender roles, I often find myself frustrated with Paul (and sometimes even God). When I’m confused though, I simply go back to the passages with Jesus. What did Jesus do? How did he act? What were his responses? How did he treat women? What did he teach by his actions? We can screw up Biblical interpretations all we want, but Jesus’ actions are pretty clear 🙂

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    1. Kelly, you are confused because you think there is a conflict between Jesus and Paul. Believe me, frustration and confusion (at least initially) are common responses to far more than just this issue. But the danger comes when we assume we know enough to impose our values and feelings on the text of Scripture–this becomes a never-ending rabbit hole of hybrid religion, operating under the name of Christianity while being our own invention. Simple choice: put myself under the authority of Scripture as inspired by God (with every consideration to literary genre, historical, cultural and scriptural context and support) or invent “my own truth” by taking whatever appeals to me and jettisoning those uncomfortable challenges to my thinking and will.

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  4. A “prophetess” called Anna spoke of Jesus in the temple by the Holy Spirit to “all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem”. She was speaking in the center of religious meeting and activity to men and women, without a husband “covering” her, because she was a widow. And women are not allowed to speak in church”? (Luke 2)

    People will quote 1 Corinthians 14:34-36 “women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as the law also says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.”

    However, the context in 1 Corinthians forces us to understand that this is dealing with a specific situation. Why?

    First in 1 Corinthians 11:5, not long before that, Paul gave instructions for women to pray or prophesy in church. He was not contradicting what he had just written to chapters ago. Thus he is is talking about a temporary silence in context, not a complete or permanent prohibition. The word used in chapter 14 also isn’t talking about a prohibition of teaching in a pulpit but of speaking. If this is not addressing a certain situation, it must be taken as a command against speaking in church at all, not just a prohibition from teaching or prophesying.

    The part that women should be “in submission” implies that they were talking in an insubordinate way, like chatting. If it was insubordinate to speak prophesies, Paul would not have given instructions just a little while earlier for how women are to prophesy. (With their heads covered, which is also something we have to understand in the context of pagan religion and temple prostitution in the worship of Aphrodite at the time in Corinth.)

    We must note that the same command to be silent was just given a little earlier commanding tongue speakers and prophets to be silent. Context is clear that he wasn’t saying that they could not talk at all-the command was to be silent when there was no interpretation of tongues, or to finish prophesying and be silent so that others-two or three prophets-could speak. There is much good reason to believe that the admonition for women to be silent, like the two earlier admonitions of silence in the same context, was telling women not to speak out of turn or disruptively.

    Some of these thoughts were taken from this article which also has much more good information : https://www.gci.org/church/ministry/women9

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