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Liberty University

A Position On the Ordination of Women According to Scripture

A paper submitted to Dr. Bayles

In partial fulfillment of the Requirements for

the course EDMN 505

Liberty Theological seminary


Christopher W. Myers


Lynchburg, Virginia

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

Table of Contents

Introduction- 3

The Arguments For Women Pastors in Brief- 4

Scripture and the Biblical Evidence- 5

The Creation Order- 8

The Reflection of God's Nature- 12

A Conclusion- 13

Bibliography- 16


       One of the most hotly debated topics within the church today is the issue of women ordination.  It must first be understood that ordination of associate pastors will not be within the domain of this discussion because this paper takes the position that ordination is defined as an official order by God to engage in certain responsibilities or offices of the church; and the order set forth by God is confirmed by God's people.  With this definition, there is no invested problem with an associate pastor not being officially ordained of men because it can become part of the proving[1] of his ordainment by God, in other words, an associate pastor is undergoing apprenticeship as the necessary training for his later work in the shepherding ministries and given the opportunity to prove his calling before God and the church.[2]  Therefore, as long as the associate pastor meets all of the character qualifications in the Pastoral Epistles and shows a desire to fulfill his calling in the Lord[3], then he is eligible for an apprentice pastor position under a senior pastor who is willing to disciple the individual toward growth and spiritual strength. 

       Now we must narrow the discussion.  Ordination on earth by God's church is merely recognition of God's ordination from heaven.  God ordains a calling to men and women and desires for them to seek, find, and walk in their calling.[4]  There are certain callings within the church that seem to be limited to men.  One of these callings is to become a pastor[5] of a church.  This limitation is not believed to be over gender, but over the ordainment of God for order within the church and family founded by creation. 

       So this paper will take a position against the ordination of women in the local church as a pastor.  In effect, this paper will take a position that God does not ordain women to the office of pastor because of his ordained order within life.  It must be made clear from the outright that this does not subordinate women or make men superior to women, but instead this very concept reflects the nature of God.          

The Arguments For Women Pastors in Brief

       The view advocating the ordination of women bases itself upon Galatians 3:28, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."[6]  This verse is used to say that women are no different from men in Christ and therefore, cannot be discriminated against when contemplating church leadership.[7]  Furthermore, Genesis 1-2 is appealed to as the ideal reality that God intended for mankind where men and women are mutually equal.  The hierarchical order of the church has structured itself after the result of the fall, which is said to be far from the intent of Christ's new order where the creation ideal is restored.[8]   

       Another argument for the ordination of women is the examples in scripture that seem to display women authority, such examples include: Miriam,[9] Deborah,[10] women prophets[11], women as governmental leaders, [12] Priscilla, [13] Phoebe, [14] and Junia.[15]  In addition, Jesus' high treatment of women as recorded in the gospels is said to set the stage for the times of the new covenant.

       This view advocating women ordination has the following consequences.  Proper hermeneutics, the Trinity, and marriage need to be redefined in light of the above arguments for women ordination to make sense.  The proper hermeneutical interpretation and application is redefined for such verses as Genesis 1-3, I Corinthians 11:2-16, I Corinthians 14:34-35, Ephesians 5:18-33, and I Timothy 2:9-15 among others.  With that said, let us remember that this issue is not black and white as many people would like to think, very educated and sensible evangelical scholars such as N.T. Wright, Craig S. Keener, and Walter C. Kaiser Jr. are convinced that women ordination is Biblical.[16]  This paper can take a position because it sees a superior exegesis of scripture for the view that women are not to be ordained as pastors.     

Scripture and the Biblical Evidence

       The strongest scripture against the ordination of women as pastors is found in I Timothy 2:9 through I Timothy 2:15.  Since these verses stand against women ordination so strongly almost every major word is disputed.  Every italicized word or phrase is disputed in some way:

9 in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, 10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. 11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.[17] 

Christians that view women ordination as Biblical must understand I Timothy 2:11-14 to be culturally restrained and not universal for all-time principles of truth, and then they must provide the cultural situation that would cause Paul to speak in this way against women teaching men.  Furthermore, Paul's supporting his argument from the creation account is very troublesome for advocates of women ordination and needs to be explained against the plain reading of the text in order for the argument for women ordination to make sense.[18] 

       The arguments against women ordination begin their argument by showing that Ephesus was not any different a city in gender distinctions than the rest of the Roman provincial cities.  The lexical word meanings and Greek sentence structure are evaluated for the most superior interpretation of the syntax in light of proven hermeneutics from both progressive and historical scholarship.  We will now explore these areas of the discussion toward a solid foundation for a position on women ordination.[19]

       Ephesus did have a temple to Artemis where the religious officials were restricted to priestesses, but this does not mean that domineering women dominated Ephesus.  Archaeological evidence establishes Ephesus as a typical Greco-Roman city.  Ephesus was one of many Greco-Roman cities that had priestesses serving in the pagan temple compounds.  Historical evidence has established from inscriptions of the names of the priestesses that they were not married women, but set aside for what was essentially religious prostitution.[20] 

       Furthermore, there was false teaching in Ephesus, but scriptural evidence only names men as false teachers in Ephesus, not women.[21]  And in Acts 20:30, Paul uses the specific Greek word for "men" to warn the Ephesians' elders of future false teaching. 

       While we are looking at the Greek it is important to note the monumental study of the Greek syntax of I Timothy 2:12 by Andreas J Kostenberger.[22]  Kostenberger, using the IBYCUS computer program system that searches all the extant Greek literature directly relevant to syntactical situations, was able to find 53 Biblical syntactical parallels[23] and 48 extra-biblical syntactical parallels to I Timothy 2:12 in the LXX, ancient inscriptions, Polybius, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Diodorus Siculus, Josephus, Philo, and Plutarch.   The research concluded that two patterns can be deduced from the evidence and that the two infinitives in I Timothy 2:12 can be viewed either positively or negatively. So the verse can be translated, "I do not permit a woman to teach [error] or to usurp a man's authority" or "I do not permit women to teach or to have (or exercise) authority over a man."

       The way to understand which rendering is superior to the other is by discovering the positive or negative emphasis of the infinitives.  The infinitive διδάσκειν meaning 'teaching' or 'to teach' is always viewed positively in the New Testament when used absolutely.  If the writer wants to use it in connection with a negative idea, he will add some type of contextual qualifier such as "false" or he will use a different Greek word such as ετεροδιδασκαλειν.[24]  Since the beginning of I Timothy 2:12 begins as, "But I do not permit a women to teach," and the coordinating conjunction ουδέ requires the second action to be understood correspondingly, then αυθεντεϊν should be understood to be positive as well and be rendered, "to have (or exercise) authority," and not "to domineer" or "to flout the authority of."       

       It should be clear from the evidence that trying to provide a cultural reason for Paul disallowing women to teach men puts one in error because Paul gives his reasoning in verse 13 for his principle of why women should not teach men; he bases it on the creation order.  Also, syntactical evidence points us away from trying to explain the passage away with cultural bounds, but rather it points us right where Paul was pointing us, to Genesis 1-3.

The Creation Order

       Paul supports his argument for the prohibition of women teaching and taking authority over men by appealing to two areas of the Creation narrative: the order by which God created Adam and Eve and the fact that Eve was deceived and not Adam. 

       First, some things need to be made clear pertaining to what Paul was not saying.  Paul was not saying that because Adam was first in order, so he is in rank.  Paul was not saying that with "birth order" or "creation order" there came more significance or a hierarchical "right,"[25] because then he would have to say that the animals were more significant than man!  But instead Adam was formed first and God placed him in the Garden to name all of the animals and by naming all of the animals, Adam found that there were no life that was like him in nature.  God knew it was not good for Adam to be alone, but he waited to let Adam find that out himself by beholding the entirety of the different natures of God's creation and how they were entirely not like his.  When Adam did find it out, God had him fall into a deep sleep.  This is when God constructed woman out of the bone of man and then he placed her before the awakened Adam.  One can only imagine the delight in his eyes when he beheld the work of the Lord and he declared, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man."[26]  With this in mind, in order to understand what Paul is saying we must understand that the theological purpose for Genesis 2 is summarized in verse 24, it is revealing to us the origins of marriage.  And if we take the focus outward to view it in a larger context, we see that Genesis 2 supplements Genesis 1 by showing that God creates male and female in His image to have dominion over the entire earth and this is most practically worked out through marriage.[27]  How else could man and woman fulfill the commission of God decreed in Genesis 1:28:

“Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

How could man accomplish this commission by himself?  This is why it was not good for Adam to be alone, he needed a helps meet.

       Now we have laid the foundations for understanding what Paul means.  Adam was not created to be Eve's 'help meet.'  Eve was created to be Adam's 'help meet.'  Man was not taken out of woman, but woman out of man.  The woman does not depart out of her parent's home and cleave unto her man, but the man does the leaving and cleaving, he is the leader.  God did not create Eve first, but God created Adam first.  God could have created both male and female simultaneously, but he did not.  Therefore, there is a purpose behind the way that God created male and female and Paul says that this reason is one of the reasons why women should not teach or have authority over men.

       Secondly, Paul qualifies his argument with Genesis 3, citing the fact that Adam was not deceived, but Eve was deceived and fell into sin.  Paul was not saying that Eve was deceived because she was prone to deception.  Man and woman were created equal and perfect; there were no tendencies for any evil by the first humans.  Paul was not using Genesis 3 to belittle women, but instead he saw evidence from the Genesis 3 narrative and specifically the deception of Eve that qualifies his statement that women should not teach or have authority over men.    Since we know that this cannot be Paul attributing any emphasis on the nature of Eve in respect to Adam, then he must be putting emphasis on the nature of the deception of Eve's in respect to the sin of Adam.  And this is the key to understanding what Paul is saying.  Men are different from women.  Adam was different from Eve.  Adam was created to be the head and Eve was created to be the members of the one body, the one flesh, which God designed to have dominion over the entire earth.  These differences were exploited by a crafty and cunning being.  The nature of Eve's deception is that she was deceived by a serpent, which deceived her by approaching her apart from her husband and putting lies into her mind that encouraged her to act against her husband.  Adam was not deceived; he knowingly received the fruit from his wife and ate it and therefore submitted himself to his wife's leadership causing a role reversal. 

       The supporting argument here is very similar to Paul's first one.  His first said that there is a purpose behind the order by which God created man and woman.  His second argument is saying that there is a purpose behind the way that Eve was deceived.  The serpent did not approach Adam, but he approached Eve.  The serpent did not plant the lies with Adam, but with Eve.  Adam was not deceived, but it was Eve who fell into the transgression.  The fact that Paul says Eve became in violation is significant because he is not saying by this that only Eve was in violation, for in Romans 5 he attributes the violation of God's commands solely to Adam.  The connection he is making is between the deception of Eve and her transgression.  Eve transgressed because she was deceived of the serpent; she put her trust away from her God and she usurped the authority of her husband by choosing to take the fruit and eat.  The serpent chose to approach her, not because Eve was more susceptible to deception, but because the serpent would be going against the order God ordained in Genesis 2.  Notice that in the latter part of Genesis 3, God confronts first Adam with his sin, not Eve and not the serpent.  God knew it was Eve who was deceived and that Adam heeded to her words to eat the fruit, and that the transgression began with the beguiling of the serpent.  But God confronts Adam because he made him the responsible head of the holy union between man and woman, the ultimate blame of the transgression falls on Adam because he is the head according to the God ordained order set in His creation.  And this is why Paul says that Adam was not deceived, but Eve was.  Because if the serpent approached Adam, then the order of creation in Genesis 2 would not have been violated and therefore, the deception would have been more difficult to be a success, not because Adam was a man, but because he was the head.  Think about it this way, if you were going to plant a lie about a secret deceit in God to hide ultimate wisdom[28] and authority,[29] you would approach the person who had the least authority and whose wisdom had more vulnerability in this area of deception.  Now let me clarify that I am not saying that Adam was superior in wisdom.  Instead, I acknowledge that man and woman are made equal although different with their inherent and different strength and weaknesses.  Man's inherent vulnerability is toward pride because he was created as head.  Woman's inherent vulnerability is toward the usurping of authority because she was created as Adam's suitable helper.  This is the reality that Paul is using to qualify his position that he does not permit women to teach or usurp authority over men.

The Reflection of God's Nature

       Man and woman are both created in the image of God.[30]  This means that both male and female are created to have dominion and authority over the earth.  By God's ordering of creation, however, he has designed the man to head the woman and the woman to be a help to him.  This reflects the very nature of God.  God is Father, Son, and Spirit.  His nature consists of three persons who relate to one another.  There is only one God who exists as three persons.  Always, in one person there is the entirety of the godhead, so much so that to conceive of one without the others is inconceivable, yet they are distinct and the distinction are clear in the Bible and in the ability to be understood.  Yea, the distinction must be understood because the Christian must understand that the Father sent the Son.  The Son did not send the Father.  The Father did not become flesh although he experienced it through the Son, but the Son became flesh and the Father in him experienced it through the Son.  The godhead is a unity in diversity and diversity in unity.  The maleness and femaleness of mankind is also a unity in diversity and diversity in unity.  The man and woman cleave together and become one in unity, yet they are distinct and God created them in diversity.  The Father sets the plan and vision for the exaltation of Christ and the Son submits to the vision and plan and obeys the will of the Father and therefore, he became flesh and died a humiliating death on the cross all for the glory of the Father.  Likewise, the man is designed to set the vision and plan to exalt Christ in all things through life; the man in subservience to Christ exalts the woman above himself in the same way that Christ exalted the Father above himself.  And the woman submits to the vision of the exaltation of Christ set by the man, the woman in subservience to Christ becomes a helper to her man in the same way that Christ is a helper to his people, it is hardly a word for slavery![31]  Male and Female are subservient to God in unity and are imbued with unique authorities in unity and we were designed to be one flesh in unity, but there is also a created order that pertains to the created diversity between male and female.[32]

A Conclusion

       This paper has taken the position that pastors teach and must have authority over men and therefore, a women should not be ordained as a pastor.  A woman is not to be a pastor because of the creation order ordained by the creative hand of our Maker and because the creative hand of our Creator created us in unity and diversity.  In diversity, male and female harbor different attributes and strengths and weakness.  In unity, male and female complement one another's strengths and weaknesses and together their differing attributes are the strongest for the exaltation of Christ in all things.  Man in the home are designed to set the vision and plan for the exaltation of Christ in the life of the home and ordained men in the church as pastors are designed to set the vision and plan for the exaltation of Christ in the life of the church.  Women are designed to be the absolutely necessary second-in-command for the furthering of the exaltation of the Son.  Without woman man is nothing, it is not good for man to be alone.  Without man woman is nothing, it is not good for woman to be alone.  God has created male and female in an order so that the exaltation of Christ can be furthered the most.  Male and female are designed to exalt Christ in their unity and in their diversity.  We must trust God and believe that the way he created things is the best way for us and firstly, for the exalting of His Son.    

       These last words must display the fact that this paper is inadequate and lacking because only one verse of scripture is able to see exegesis and many arguments from both sides is omitted due to space.  My prayer is that the one verse that could see exegesis and be interpreted can be used by the Holy Spirit for the exaltation of Christ and the exhortation of the saints.  To my sisters who are ordained and serving as pastors, to you I declare that you do all things for the exaltation of Christ, center your ministries on him, make Christ the passion in your life that provides all of your satisfactions and joys and songs that bubble up from the very depths of your soul.  Drink of him and make him the drink that quenches your everlasting thirst and eat of him and make him the food that satisfies your everlasting hunger.  I do not look down on you, I pray for you.  To all of the men in this world, I exhort for you to pray for these women that in all of their ministry that the Christ will be exalted and that all ministries will be for him, and that all passions in this world fill be filled and quenched and satisfied in him.  Pray that this world will be filled with the songs of the praises of God and the joy of his people and the satisfactions of the peace of fallen souls and the salvation that comes from the God of peace.  This issue would be no issue if men were leading and setting vision for the exaltation of Christ in all things.  But man is fallen and a decrepit sinner and has failed to meet the standards of a godly leader and so we are set in this predicament this day where women fill so many of the holes in pulpit ministry.  They are wrong, but men were wrong first.  So this issue of woman ordination needs to be corrected by the men that set vision in a direction centered on the Son and then ordained women can catch a vision that is so much bigger than women ordination and worldly equality: the vision of an eternally humble and just and righteous God who must be exalted because of his everlasting perfections, because of his infinite wisdom, because of his unknowable ways, because he made the wisdom of men foolish and the glory of men inglorious by coming to be one of us to sprinkle life on those people of death who will desire him to be his people of life and thanksgiving and rejoicing.     













Grenz, Stanley J. and Kjesbo, Denise Muir.  Women in the Church: A Biblical Theology of


       Women in Ministry.  Downer's Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1995.

Grudem, Wayne.  Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood.  Wheaton, Crossway

       Books, 2002.

Grudem, Wayne.  Evangelical Feminism & Biblical Truth.  Colorado Springs: Multnomah

       Publishers, 2004.

Keener, Craig S.  Paul, Women & Wives: Marriage and Women's Ministry in the Letters of Paul. 


       Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1992.

Kostenberger, Andrea J. and Schreiner, Thomas R.  Women in the Church: An Analysis and


       Application of I Timothy 2:9-15.  2nd editionGrand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005.

Piper, John and Grudem, Wayne.  Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood: A Response to


       Evangelical Feminism.  Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2006.

Sumner, Sarah.  Men and Women in the Church.  Downer's Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2003.

Vangemeren, Willem A.  New International Dictionary of Old Testement Theology & Exegesis. 


       Volume 3.  Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997.



       [1] See I Timothy 3:10

       [2] II Thessalonians 5:21 "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good."  The direct context and dealing with proving prophecies, but the same truth holds true for proving a man's calling. 

       [3] This can be from his personal zeal for the exaltation of Christ, but the most respectable way of showing a desire to fulfill your calling in America is to seek formal training for ministry, especially by graduating at a seminary.  

       [4] I Corinthians 7:17

      [5] Or Elder, the different Greek terms are used equivalently in the New Testament.

       [6] KJV

      [7]  Keener, Craig S.  Paul, Women & Wives: Marriage and Women's Ministry in the Letters of Paul. (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1992.)

       [8] Grenz, Stanley J. and Kjesbo, Denise Muir.  Women in the Church: A Biblical Theology of Women in Ministry.  (Downer's Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1995.)

       [9] Exodus 15, Numbers 12

      [10] Judges 4-5

       [11] Joel 2:28-29 and corresponding NT references


       [12] 2 Kings 11

       [13] Acts 18:2, 18, 26; Romans 16:3; I Corinthians 16:19

       [14] Romans 16:1

       [15] Romans 16:7

       [16] See the Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) website

       [17] I Timothy 2:9-15 NKJV


      [18] Grudem, Wayne.  Evangelical Feminism & Biblical Truth. (Colorado Springs: Multnomah  Publishers, 2004.)

       [19] This is how the argument is laid out by Kostenberger, Andrea J. and Schreiner, Thomas R.  Women in the Church: An Analysis and Application of I Timothy 2:9-15.  2nd editionGrand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005.

      [20]  Ibid. pp. 29-31


      [21] See I Timothy 1:19-20, 2 Timothy 2:17-18

      [22] See Kostenberger in Chapter 3

      [23]  However the only absolute exact syntactical parallel in the New Testament to I Timothy 2:12 is Acts 16:21, where the constructive pattern is: negated finite verb + infinitive + ουδέ + infinitive.  If the infinitives are allowed to also be verbal forms connecting to ουδέ, then 52 verses can be added to Acts 16:21 as parallels.

       [24] An example is Titus 1:11

       [25] Sumner is wrong when she assesses that Adam being created first before man is related to the cultural practice of primogeniture.  She disguises herself as neutral in the debate and attempts to summarize both sides.  But she is clearly egalitarian because she misrepresents and misunderstands many points within the complementarian's argument and concludes an egalitarian agenda!  See especially chapter 20 dealing with the issue at hand, Sumner, Sarah.  Men and Women in the Church.  (Downer's Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2003.)

       [26] Genesis 2:23

      [27] Chapter 3.  Piper, John and Grudem, Wayne.  Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism.  (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2006.)

       [28] Genesis 3:6, "The woman saw that the tree was good for food...and a tree to be desired to make one wise." and Genesis 3:5, "God knows that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened...knowing good and evil."

       [29] Genesis 3:5, "God knows that in the day ye eat shall be as gods"

       [30] Genesis 1:27 

       [31]  God is referred to as a 'helper' with the same Hebrew word that was used in the creation of Eve as helper.  See רוע in Vangemeren, Willem A.  New International Dictionary of Old Testement Theology & Exegesis. Volume 3.  (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997).

       [32] See chapter 8 in Grudem, Wayne.  Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood.  (Wheaton, Crossway Books, 2002). 

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