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am052007-WHERE CAN WOMEN EXERCISE THE Gift of Prophecy

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We are presently studying our way through the book of First Corinthians, a letter written by God through the apostle Paul to a church in Corinth.

Our subject this morning: “Where Can Women Exercise Their Gift of Prophecy?”


Remember, the gift of prophecy is a spiritual gift given by the Holy Spirit to those He has appointed to receive the gift.  It is the Spirit’s enablement to a man or women to speak God’s words for the edification of the body of Christ. 

In the OT, prophets spoke God’s truth and certain prophets recorded that truth in written form; it always needed confirmation and generally was confirmed by saying “This says the LORD”. 

The Apostles of Jesus Christ could speak God’s truth and the Holy Spirit inspired them to write down the things God wanted to record and it was verified by signs, wonders, and miracles. Others could speak God’s truth but did not write it down to become a part of the Scriptures but what they spoke had to be verified by other prophets or by the apostles of Jesus Christ themselves. The evidence is clear that women were given the gift of prophecy for Paul writes about them in 1 Corinthians 11 and Philip, the evangelist had four unmarried daughters with the gift as recorded in Acts 21.

Today, prophets speak but it is always subject to examination by others and is never considered inspired nor is it written down and added to the Scriptures. It never has authority as it did the OT prophets and Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. You and I would hear a prophet speak today and consider it in light of the written scriptures and confirming it by the Spirit of God that lives within us.

Now, “Where can women exercise this gift today?” Many Christian churches have women pastors, elders, and use their gift of prophecy freely when the church is assembled.

Does it really matter if she can or can’t; is this really important?  Yes!  Why!   Because the Bible is God’s written revelation to mankind and it is absolutely true; the words are not man’s but God’s. Secondly, if we error in church order; then we can’t be effective in making mature disciples of Christ.  Thirdly, this subject reveals where we as Christians stand regarding absolute truth in the midst of a cultural war on truth. Are we biblists or are we cultural Christians?



There are three significant passages which provide information so that we answer this question based on biblical truth rather than cultural relativism. The first important passage is in 1 Corinthians 11 where Paul has established guidelines for exercising the gift of prophecy apart from church assembled…


Regulations Regarding Prophecy Apart From Church Assembled


1 Corinthians 11:2-6

2 Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ (position not essence). 4 Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. 5 But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head.

You will notice that these verses give no indication of a church assembled. In fact, Paul doesn’t reference a church gathering until verse 17. Women with the gift of prophecy were to exercise their gift apart from the gathered church and in certain areas were to have the heads cover as a sign of submission to their husband. They were always to be under authority when exercising the gift of prophecy.

In chapter 14 of Corinthians, it is beyond question that Paul is giving regulations about spiritual gifts being exercised when the church is assembled.


Regulations Regarding Prophecy in the Church Assembled


1 Corinthians 14:29-39
Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment (other prophets were to evaluate what had been stated. This is the verification process so that truth is not distorted). 30 But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent (no more can exercise their gift than 3 and it must be in agreement with others of the same gift; when God reveals a revelation while not speaking, the one speaking must yield to the one just receiving the revelation). 31 For you can all prophesy one by one (one at a time), so that all may learn (understand) and all may be exhorted (all may be encouraged); 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets (the prophets are in control of their spiritual gift; not the gift in control of the person.); 33 (Why all these guidelines?) for God is not a God of confusion but of peace,


(this begins a new sentence) as in all the churches  of the saints (not just Corinth). 34 The women are to keep silent (quiet) in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak (passive voice which means a law is forbidding speaking to occur), but are to subject themselves (passive voice which means a law is forbidding the action to occur; they are not to be speaking in authority but under authority), just as the Law also says. 35 If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church (she is not to exercise any authority in the church gathered; though she has the gift of prophecy she is not permitted to participate in any area of church authority; she is not to exercise evaluating or speaking prophetically in the church).


But, some would say this exhortation contradicts what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:5-6. Please remember Paul is not speaking about praying and prophesying in the church in chapter 11!

In another letter to the pastor at Ephesus, Paul writes Timothy and states why women must not speak in a position of authority in the gathered church.

1 Timothy 2:9-15
Likewise (Paul had just exhorted men to pray), I want women to adorn (beautify) themselves with proper (modest) clothing, modestly (decently) and discreetly (moderation; self-control over sexual passions), not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, 10 but rather (beautify yourself outwardly) by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness (known for exhibiting godliness not for exhibiting sexual passions). 11 A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness (this is exactly what Paul was referring to in 1 Corinthians 14).


35 If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church


12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. (listen carefully, this issue is not about can a woman speak as well as a man; it is about God’s design for orderliness) 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression (she step outside of God’s design for her and that was to be under Adam’s authority; God has a design for the home, church, and society and when the design is violated you will have chaos). 15 But women will be preserved (rescued) through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity (committed to God’s design for women) with self-restraint (sound judgment).


1Timothy 2:15 may best be rendered in the following way: "She (the woman) is rescued from Satan’s deceptions by submitting to God’s design in having a family and managing the affairs of the home (Titus 2:4-5). The sense of the injunction in the present passage is thus that women can expect to escape Satan’s devices under the condition of adhering to their God-ordained role centering around the natural household.

Now, let’s go back to Paul’s final comments in 1 Corinthians 14.

36 Was it from you that the word of God first went forth? (Did the Word of God originate with you Corinthians or from God? They were making the Word mean what they wanted it to mean!) Or has it come to you only? (Are you the only ones who have truth?) 37 If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment.


(The prophets, tongues-speakers, and women may all have been resistant to words, so he anticipated that resistance by sarcastically challenging those who put themselves above his word, and thus, above Scripture by either ignoring it or interpreting it to fit their predisposed ideas. If anyone was genuinely a prophet or had the true spiritual gift of tongues, he or she would submit to the principles God had revealed through the apostle.)

MacArthur, J. J. (1997, c1997). The MacArthur Study Bible (electronic ed.) (1 Co 14:36). Nashville: Word Pub.


38 But if anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized (he or she is not one who has heard from God). 39 Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues.


Where can women exercise their gift of prophecy?  Anywhere! The only exception is the when the church is assembled. Obviously, they are commanded in Titus to have a ministry to teaching younger women and children.


Matthew 10:34-39
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 “For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. 37 “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 “And he who does not take his cross (Christ’s right and authority over your life) and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 “He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.


May God bless us with many women exercising their gift of prophecy according to God’s regulations.


All spiritual gifts are to be under the authority of God’s word!

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