the weblog of Alan Knox

Spiritually Gifted Women

Posted by on May 11, 2010 in spiritual gifts | 21 comments

In a previous post – “Spiritual Gifts and Women” – I started writing about “women in ministry,” or, perhaps a better way to phrase it, “women serving others.” I pointed out that the authors of Scripture do not make a gender distinction when listing spiritual gifts. Neither Peter nor Paul lists certain gifts for men and other gifts for women. Also, they do not specify that only men have certain gifts.

So, from this conclusion, it seems that women could be gifted by the Holy Spirit with any of the gifts listed, that is, apostleship, prophecy, evangelism, teaching, shepherding, leading, serving, helping, giving, etc. Based on these gifts, and the exercise of these gifts, it would be proper to call a woman an apostle, a prophet, an evangelist, a teacher, a shepherd, a leader, a servant, a helper, a giver, etc.

Again, according to Scripture, God gives gifts to his children through the Holy Spirit for the purpose of serving others. (see Romans 12:6, 1 Corinthians 12:7, 1 Peter 4:10) We see this specifically of gifts like prophecy, which is intended to be used to edify others, not just the one with the gift of prophecy:

On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. (1 Corinthians 14:3-4 ESV)

Thus, the woman who is a prophet should speak to others for the purpose of building them up.

Unfortunately, spiritual gifts are often associated with “offices” or “positions” in the church. Thus, because Acts 20:28 and 1 Peter 5:2 speak of elders as “shepherding,” we often associate the spiritual gift of “shepherding” with being an elder. In fact, in many contexts, elders are called “pastors” because of this associations.

Similarly, since some elders “lead” (1 Timothy 5:17), we often associate “leading” with being an elder (or other “office” or “position”, whatever we call it). However, it seems from Scripture that others lead, even if they don’t haven’t been appointed as an elder or even if they don’t have a specific “position.” (see 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13, Romans 12:8, Hebrews 13:7, 17)

The same could be said for teaching. In 1 Timothy 3:2 and 1 Timothy 5:17, Paul says that elders should be able to teach, and that we should honor those who work hard at teaching. But, these passages do not indicate that only elders teach. In fact, there are several passages that place teaching in the context of the entire body of Christ. (see Matthew 28:18-20, Colossians 3:16)

Thus, the stigma against women having certain spiritual gifts (especially apostleship, prophecy, teaching, evangelism, shepherding, and leading) or being called by labels related to those spiritual gifts (apostle, prophet, teacher, evangelist, shepherd, and leader) comes more from the association of those spiritual gifts (and titles) to certain “offices” or “positions” in the church, not from the spiritual gifts themselves.

Now, once again, this does not mean that women (or men, for that matter) should exercise their spiritual gifts in any context. So, for the next few posts about “women in ministry (service)”, I’ll look at some of those contexts.


21 Comments

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  1. 5-11-2010

    well done

  2. 5-11-2010

    Thank you for re-thinking these items.

  3. 5-11-2010

    This is an important topic to think carefully about. It tends to be rampant with equal parts of tradition and emotion.

  4. 5-11-2010

    Scott,

    Thanks… what do you like about this post?

    Iris,

    Thanks… I’d love to hear your thoughts as well.

    Arthur,

    I agree, but can you share more about this topic being rampant with tradition and emotion?

    -Alan

  5. 5-15-2010

    Ooo, I’ve only just found this page. Your comments make sense. I’ll take a look through the Scriptures you provide. One thing that’s bit blurry in my understanding is the role/gift of ‘apostle’. I always got the impression (perhaps because I’ve misread Scripture) that apostles were authorised from God to oversee the churches they helped to plant; e.g. they had doctrinal input to establish new churches in the foundational doctrines, and made decisions to help solve problems. But maybe the oversight they provided was in their role as elder, not apostle. Thus, if a woman is gifted as an apostle she doesn’t automatically have oversight responsibilities?

    Marisa

  6. 11-11-2011

    Alan, Why do you suppose Jesus’ 12 disciples were all men?

  7. 11-11-2011

    Bruce,

    The twelve apostles were men, although Jesus had other disciples who were women. But, you ask a good question concerning the twelve. As far as I know, Scripture does not answer that question, although I’ve seen other people answer it from different perspectives. What do you think the answer to your question is?

    -Alan

  8. 11-11-2011

    Thanks, Alan, for the encouragement for women in ministry. I actually was thinking about this today but more from a perspective that apostles and prophets are less identified today (at least that I can see). It seems as though the comfortable institutional churches see no need to identify or use those with these giftings anymore. If this is true, it is sad. I look forward to a return to balance with apostles and prophets (male or female) re-emerging to round out those who are more commonly seen (evangelists, pastors and teachers).

  9. 8-6-2012

    The twelve apostles were chosen because of the kingdom of regeneration to come.They will set on 12 seats to judge Israel. Love you Alan.

  10. 8-6-2012

    In The Ministry of The Spirit, men and women are equals. In the government of The Church, men are called.

    I find it odd that even today there is that unspoken line of political-correctness in that we must make sure to segregate women from men when it comes to Jesus. In other words, the very title of this post, “Spiritually Gifted Women” calls attention to the fact they are women as though they need special esteem or encouragement because they are women.

    It’s akin to having ‘The African-American Jesus’ and so on. Can’t we stop doing this and simply grow up? We are Family. We are His Church. Even though well-intended, to segregate us for the sake of gender or race hurts Him.

  11. 8-6-2012

    Dillard,

    Which twelve apostles are you talking about? The original twelve which included Judas? Or are you removing Judas and adding Matthias or perhaps Paul? Are you counting any of the other people referred to as apostles in the New Testament? Barnabas? Timothy? Apollos? Junia? Some of the others? As you can see, there were many more than twelve apostles according to Scripture.

    Donald,

    I focus on women in this post (and a few other posts, but rarely otherwise) because of the way that women are sometimes (often?) marginalized in the church.

    -Alan

  12. 8-6-2012

    Alan,

    You mean to say “churches”, and not The Church, right? :)

  13. 8-6-2012

    Donald,

    Whenever I say “in the church,” I mean “among brothers and sisters in Christ.”

    -Alan

  14. 8-6-2012

    Alan, nicely said.

  15. 8-8-2012

    Alan,
    Love your site. God bless you.
    Matthew 19:28
    And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Paul will not be one of these?? Will He??

  16. 8-8-2012

    Dillard,

    That’s what I was asking you. Which apostles? There are more than 12 listed in the New Testament.

    -Alan

  17. 8-8-2012

    Matthias will take Judas’ place. See Acts. That prophecy applied to the apostles. Since Judas lost that status and Matthias took it, he gets to take that place in the regeneration when Jesus comes in is glory. Paul was the apostle to the gentiles.

  18. 8-8-2012

    Dillard,

    So, what does this have to do with this post?

    -Alan

  19. 8-8-2012

    Alan,
    I guess we got off the women. But here in this verse some say this lady Phebe could have been Pauls Pastor for a while.
    Romans 16:1-2, “I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea; that ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you; for she hath been a succourer of many, and of MYSELF also.”

  20. 8-8-2012

    @Dillard,

    In Greek, the word you used “succourer” is “prostatis”, which means protectress, female guardian. Speaking for myself, this is not the same as pastor/shepherd who would have the best interest of the flock in mind. It’s too individualized in this context. Phoebe appears to be more of a ‘go-to gal’, so to speak, who was equipped as a servant in the truest sense of the word, not as a shepherd.

    Just a thought. I’m not saying Phoebe didn’t minister to Paul, and to others, as he said. I’m just not seeing that shepherd/sheep dynamic in Paul’s words when he refers to her.

  21. 8-9-2012

    DONALD
    COULD BE THIS NEW BIBLE WILL HELP US ALL
    A new Bible translation tackles the challenge of turning ancient Greek and Hebrew texts into modern American English and then adds a twist: It’s written like a screenplay.

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