Women Pastors...is it biblical?

QUESTION: I have a friend who does not believe [there should be] women pastors. What does the bible teach about this?

A: I appreciate the fact that you specifically asked to hear what the Bible has to say on this subject. Too often I'm asked for my own opinion.

There are no references in God's Word to women attaining the role of pastor or leader of a fellowship. Some people believe this is due to the low status of women in biblical times, and that we need to revise such ideas and allow women to serve alongside men in the pastoral calling. That is certainly their choice and I respect them in it. But I think that position could stand some scrutiny—centering around the following question:

Is the absence of women pastors in the Bible just a reflection of society in biblical times, or are there genuine scriptural reasons that transcend culture and time? 

Frankly it's just too easy to dismiss biblical ideas as "outdated" or merely cultural. And I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I personally believe there is solid biblical ground for not having women function in the traditional role as pastor. Reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with equality or ability. 

So, are you saying that women are incapable of functioning in a pastoral role?

Heavens no!! I have observed that women are incredibly capable, and in some cases do a better job than their male counterparts when it comes to the dynamics of leadership. My own wife is a very capable leader in her own right, which includes administrative oversight and teaching ability. 

One of the key passages for understanding this issue is a statement that the Apostle Paul made in his first letter to Timothy. He wrote: "I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man..." 1 Timothy 2:12a. (NASB). 

So here's the real question: Did Paul make this statement to Timothy because he was influenced by his own patriarchal society, or was was he being led by the Holy Spirit? 

The Bible reveals that God has placed an order in Creation between men and women. This order has absolutely nothing to do with equality, intelligence or ability. In other words, the Bible does not teach that men are superior and women are inferior. Men are not God's favorites. This order between men and women is communicated this way:

"...the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior." Ephesians 5:23 (NIV)

God decided to give this role of "headship" to the man. Why? That's a good question, because I have observed that women often make better leaders. But what we do know is this pattern of headship is one which reflects the very relationship of Christ to the Church. Read the passage again from Ephesians quoted above and notice the connection. 

Therefore, just as it would be inappropriate for the Church to instruct its Head (Jesus Christ) it is likewise inappropriate for a wife to instruct her husband. Why? Because the moment she does, she is the one assuming the role of headship—not her husband. It is a violation of God's created order.

Keep in mind that although the title "pastor" is never ascribed to a woman in Scripture, that doesn't mean that a woman cannot function in a pastoral role. To pastor is to shepherd (in fact, the same Greek word is translated as both pastor and shepherd). And women are encouraged to minister in this way to other women in the Word of God—encouraging and instructing in the Word. (See Titus 2:3-5)


  1. The Free Methodist always comes out in me on this issue, I myself would never want to be a pastor, all those people to deal with yipes!
    I love Calvary Chapel but cannot reconcile how much they are correct about the role of the Holy Spirit and how they are a tad bit off when it comes to interpretation of these widely misinterpreted verses. I find myself at a loss because I am in a Calvary Chapel fellowship and seriously love it and believe God wants me here, mostly because of the teaching through scripture and the Holy Spirit. I cannot interpret these scriptures any other way. My thoughts as i find myself thinking of this.
    There is a hammering of 1 Timothy 2:11,12 in some denominations, I admit not where I fellowship, (yet)
    Paul's attitude in Philippians 4:1-3 was exemplary where he appeals, urges Euodia and Syntyche to agree he treats them with respect he doesn't demand, he calls them his coworkers.
    In Hebrews 13:17 it says obey your leaders and submit to them, for they give watch over your souls. Reading that correctly means I know I don't need to submit to any leader who is not keeping watch over my soul.
    The word to teach in 2 Timothy 1:2 in the Greek is to constantly teach in an know it all manner.Have authority over this greek word is only used once in the New Testament and means absolute sway over another. The classical Greek for that word is even more extreme meaning absolute authority to the point of murder. When something is read as a whole and your mind is pulling in from the rest of the word of God a couple or a few obscure verses shouldn't get misread simply because we know elsewhere Paul's treatment of women was not harsh so he was obviously talking about a certain woman or perhaps group of women in this letter, he didn't name their names out of respect. These verses are misrepresented on purpose by people who want to do the very thing Paul was forbidding here that was to have absolute sway and constantly teach in a condescending way. Jesus said to his disciples not to take authority over one another, He didn't mean there should be no authority he simply meant no one should lord it over others. Paul also says not to lord it over the flock you were given to care for.
    Paul was not forbidding good women to lead any more than Jesus was forbbiding any authority. I do not permit a certain wife to have murderous authority over her husband - the Greek for woman here is wife and man is husband. Take the whole of scripture and know there really is nothing else it could mean.
    So in light of this how could these verses be saying a woman should not pastor a Church?

  2. He wrote: "I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man..." 1 Timothy 2:12a. (NASB). For Adam was first formed, then Eve. 1Ti 2:14
    1Ti 2:14
    And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.
    so how can you say he might not be led by the holy spirit , he backs up what he is talking about with scripture. its pretty solid what Paul was saying. so should we just throw out acts and every letter Paul wrote ? do we get to pick and choose what is true and what is false in the WORD of GOD?