Women leading the early church?

By Elizabeth Prata

It’s spiritually grieving to see so much false teaching and wrong doctrine on Twitter (AKA “X”). Satan certainly does use social media to his advantage, doesn’t he.

One flavor of wrong doctrine these days has to do with women’s roles in the church. Feminism since the 1960s has crept into the church and led the way for people to disregard Godly roles and to pursue roles not ordained for us. And I’m not talking solely about women usurping men, but there are other roles that have been ignored by men, also. For example, the recently converted are not to take on leadership roles, lest they become conceited. Too many recent converts untested by time have vaulted into leadership roles, grown large platforms, and shipwrecked spectacularly.

Older women are to teach the younger and not be busybodies in everyone’s business. But many older women do not teach the younger and instead, especially after retirement, and speak of things not edifying of which to speak.

But back to women and godly roles. It is obvious from plain reading of the Bible that women are not to preach in church. We see in 1 Timothy 2:12,

But I do not allow a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.

And then to remove any discussion of present time or culture or temporariness, some common excuses, Paul cites the creation order, For it was Adam who was first formed, and then Eve.

He did so again in 1 Corinthians 11:8-9,

For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man. For indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake.

No woman was a pastor of any church in the Bible. No woman had ongoing authority over any man (except Deborah, as Israel’s only female JUDGE, not preacher, was an exception to a normative rule, and was given the role likely to shame men- Isaiah 3:12.) No woman wrote any part of the Bible. No woman was a priest.

But it is interesting to see how today’s ladies who want to rebelliously twist the Bible into saying things it doesn’t. It would be funny to see all these pretzel verses, if it wasn’t so tragic.

I saw on Twitter last week some women who Beth Moore whipped up and then flicked into off into fantasyland with outspoken but wrong ideas of women’s leadership in the early church. Beth does this so well, wind women up. Here is Beth’s tweet,

Notice the analytics. 63,000 people engaged with her tweet in one way or another. This is also tragic and it is why I write about her like this. She INFLUENCES negatively. A Mr. Robert Fletcher commented,

At best, @BethMooreLPM doesn’t seem to understand the difference between evangelism and teaching/having authority over men in the church. At worst, she does understand it, and she is purposefully drawing a straw man to further deceive her followers. Either way, she is eisegeting.”

The only options are Beth’s ignorance, or her deception. But women get whipped up when Moore disingenuously comments about women along these lines. One replied to Beth Moore,

Sarah went on to present verses about Chloe, Priscilla, Phoebe and ‘the elect lady’ who were allegedly “leading” the early church.

First of all, the Bible says women are not to lead. And don’t @me about Deborah. She was the clear exception to the rule, she wasn’t a king, Priest, or scribe, and she was installed to shame the men. It was about men’s weakness, not women’s strength or ability

But What About Deborah?

The word “lead” is incorrectly used. We’ll start with Chloe. Chloe didn’t lead. We know next to nothing about this women. She actually was not even specifically named! The verse in 1 Corinthians 1:11 names only that some from her household let Paul now of strife at Corinth. That’s it. That is the sum total of Chloe. Oh and her name means green herb. How someone gets from that to Chloe being “an early church leader” is insane. Literally, mentally cracked.

Priscilla was mentioned, too. We know she was married to Aquila, and we know she took Apollos aside along with her husband in order to teach Apollos more accurately.

Priscilla was mentioned 6 times, (Acts 18:2, 18, 26; Romans 16:3; 1 Corinthians 16:19; 2 Timothy 4:19). She is always mentioned along with her husband. They are a pair, and separating Priscilla in order to place her on an imaginary leadership pedestal would be to use a scalpel to excise Aquila from scripture. We cannot vault Priscilla to a leadership position any more than we could for Aquila.

Phoebe was also put on the list in this discussion of ‘early women leaders’ as a leader in the church. We do know from scripture she was a benefactor of the early church. Susannah was a benefactor too, but not claimed as a leader. Hmm. Phoebe was mentioned as having brought a letter to Rome, probably in a group of others since traveling alone as a female was dangerous. Phoebe was called a deaconess, meaning servant, and as such, could have been a teacher of all female inquirers of the faith, (because we know from 1 Timothy 2:12 she would not have been teaching the men). Or she could have been and be active in the helping the poor among the flock, since Paul called her a benefactor.

That’s it. Nothing in there to lead one to believe she was a leader of any type more than Mary and Martha, who opened their home and served those who came, and who were active in Jesus’ ministry as believers and followers.

The simple fact that some women are mentioned is far from proof they led. Dorcas/Tabitha was more than mentioned, an entire story revolves around Dorcas. She was even resurrected from the dead. Yet feminists do not call her a leader. I wonder why. Could it be because the Bible clearly limits her sphere of influence to sewing and widows, traditional female domains?

The stretch and twisting that feminist women give to these few Bible women and try to vault them into positions they clearly did not attain is startling. But when one has an agenda, one will go to lengths to prop it up.

Women’s position in society pre-Incarnation was as chattel, and invisible. They were equated with slaves as far as admissibility in testifying in court, which was a big NOPE. Public worship can take place in a synagogue only if at least ten adult Jewish males were there for a quorum. Women do not qualify as part of this quorum, which is likely why there was a group of women by the river (which included Lydia) that Paul found.

Jesus elevated the status of women by including them in his ministry. Susannah and Lydia and Phoebe were benefactors. Mary and Martha (and Lazarus) opened their home to Jesus. Philip’s daughters evangelized. Priscilla (and Aquila) taught. But their elevation into the mix of daily service does not mean they led in church. Many scriptures are clear that women are not to lead in services but to be silent participants. And to serve enthusiastically in all other places God has ordained and in the many roles we see women serving in the New Testament: financial support, evangelizing, hospitality, serving other women, teaching women, children, and grandchildren, and other background but critical service.

My greatest wish is for usurping women to finally become content with the roles Jesus has outlined for us in all spheres; church, home, and world. If they do not, Jesus will address this on the Day, which will be more uncomfortable and more embarrassing than accepting it here on earth.

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