Affirming the ministry of women

by Richard on November 26, 2012

Tim Chesterton does what should no longer be necessary and makes the scriptural case for the ministry of women

…the small minority of texts that appear to restrict the ministry of women need to be treated with caution. We obviously are not fully informed about the context in which they were written, and in the one case that we have examined carefully, it is clear that the text does not mean what we might naturally assume it to mean. That Jesus and his apostles carried out their ministry in a world formed by patriarchy, we cannot doubt. That the apostles were not always successful in shaking off that patriarchy, we ought not to be surprised. But that the New Testament ideal was that of the new creation, in which men and women shared equally in the image of God and the gift of the Holy Spirit, and in which ‘your sons and daughters will prophesy’, we can, it seems to me, be reasonably sure.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }


d 11.26.12 at 7:16 pm

Chesterton writes:
“the modern concept of a seminary-trained, full-time, professional priest, who by ordination has been set aside from worldly employment for a career of doing all of the preaching and sacramental ministry in a congregation, did not exist in New Testament times.”



Richard 11.26.12 at 11:12 pm

I don’t think there’s anything controversial about that, no. Do you doubt it?


Gary 11.27.12 at 5:35 am

Ephesians 4:11, ” So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers”

1 Timothy 5:17-18, “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”

1 Corinthians 9:14 , “In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.”


Tim Chesterton 11.27.12 at 6:08 am

Thanks for the link, Richard.

I accidentally had the comments disabled, which I’ve fixed now. My apologies to anyone who might have tried to leave a comment.


Pam 11.27.12 at 6:24 am

I think Tim should be somehow placed into the House of Laity in C of E and his vote should be counted six times.


Kim 11.27.12 at 9:17 am

Typically with proof-texting, non-contextual, a-historical, and lexically ignorant polemics, your comments, Gary, are bunk.


d 11.27.12 at 8:56 pm

Related to my original comment on one element of the piece……..

There may not hve been institutions called “Seminaries” but there where schools of higher education for the study of Gods Word and preparaion for ministry.

The synagogue provided the basic model for the structure of early Church congregations.
The synagogue is the beth knesset or house of assembly.
The house of study was called beth midrash and considered of higher value than beth knesset because the “study of Gods Word” was considered a higher form of worship and where “one meets God”.

So there where “higher institutions of learning” where the Torah and eventually the whole of New Testament teaching where studied and learned.
Higher institutions of learning in Jewish Communities is where the brightest and the best “learned at the feet of the Rabbi”. Students would apply to learn under the great teachers.
The School of Hillel. The school of Shammai and at the feet of Gamliel.

It is written:
“Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense.”
When they heard him speak to them in Aramaic they became very quiet.
I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia but brought up in this city. I studied underGamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors
Acts 22:3.

1st century CE
“Theodotos, son of Vettenos, kohen and archisynagogos (synagogue leader), son of an archisynagogos, grandson of an archisynagogos, who built the synagogue for the reading of the law and the teaching of the commandments, and the guest house, chambers, and water supplies to serve as an inn for those who come from abroad, and whose fathers, with the elders and Simonidus, founded the synagogue.”
The synagogue was attended by non-Jews also.

Where do you find Paul or Peter continued in their chosen trade after venturing into the spreading of the Word?
Where do you find Paul or Peter continued in their chosen trade after venturing into the spreading of the Word?

The function of High Priest, Grand Rabbi, Rabbi, Bishop and Elder have changed over time. How do you understand the function and titles of each in the Early Church?


Kim 11.27.12 at 10:28 pm

Er, yes, d, Paul did continue working as a tentmaker: see Acts 18:3. In fact, scholars suggest that Paul, notwithstanding his rabbinic education — and his knowledge of Greek philosophy and rhetoric — probably took on odd jobs of manual labour in the communities he started and visited.

And are you suggesting that Peter, the fisherman, had formal rabbinic training, or took it up during his missionary work? Where is the evidence for such a claim? Nowhere.

Finally, there were no priests in the early church — or rather all Christians were priests (see I Peter 2); and Jesus was — is — the one and only High Priest (see Hebrews). There is certainly no Grand Rabbi — the term is unknown in the NT — and Jesus specifically tells the disciples to call no one rabbi (Matthew 23:8). As for “bishops” [sic] (episcopoi, literally “over-seers”) and “elders” (presbyteroi), they are virtually synonymous in the NT, the latter term coming from Jewish tradition, the former deriving from a Gentile context. Their ministries are primarily pastoral and teaching, and certainly not sacerdotal.

All of this is pretty basic, uncontentious stuff, d. Put your time to some profitable use — go do some homework. Whatever, don’t waste our time here with ignorance decked in dudgeon.


d 11.28.12 at 12:59 pm

I do not think you will find may details about the 1st century administration and position in the temples of the Jews in the New Testament.
What scholars are you referencing?
I find it hard to believe St. Peter or St. Paul would have had much time for fishing or tent making as their reponsibility, travel, and trips to prison increased .
Most people understand education in the Word of G-D was a top priority for every Jew and every parents responsibility was to train up a child in the Torah from birth.
The levels of authority in the synagogue are well know and written about in many places. They changed over the centuries and history records them.
I am saying Peter was trained in Old testament teaching.
Peter was not an ignorant, uneducated fisherman.
Every Jewish child was trained in the Torah and more.
Males in schools. Girls at home.
What would you call someone that studied at the “feet of Gamaliel” as Paul was?

What troubles me is the belief by many that e the Apostles, early Christians leaders and teachers where a group of uneducated men and women. Nothing could be further from the truth.
It is easy to distinguish who knows what with a little study.

You have a good day.

The Christian Church has a High Priest and His name is Jesus.


Gary 11.28.12 at 5:05 pm

Kim, you wrote, “Typically with proof-texting, non-contextual, a-historical, and lexically ignorant polemics, your comments, Gary, are bunk.” Withe respect (something you neglected in your comment), I ask you to show me how and why the verses I posted above are any of the things you claim. Those same terms you used are the same one’s every non-Christian uses whenever they see Scriptural references, in their knee-jerk reactions. In other words Kim, I am just asking for you to explain your claims in more detail. Thanks.


Kim 11.28.12 at 5:31 pm

Er, text without context = pretext. The onus is on you, gary, to exegete, not just hurl, your texts and tell us exactly how they are germane to Tim’s post.


d 11.28.12 at 10:15 pm

They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need.
He sold a field he owned and brought the money to the apostles. Acts 2

“But there was a certain man named Ananias who, with his wife, Sapphira, sold some property.  He brought part of the money to the apostles, claiming it was the full amount. With his wife’s consent, he kept the rest.
Then Peter said, “Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself.“Acts 5

The story of Ananias and Sapphira set the standard for members of the Christian Community.
In one act Peter would establish the authority and power the apostles held and the responsibility of the members of the Christian Community.
Members of the Christian Community would be required to support financially those in need.
The Apostles were in need.

Paul does write he worked, went hungry and suffered but that was during his missionary journeys planting churches and before the Christian Churches were established 2Corinthians 11:27
With few supporters and no established CC there would be few if any to give anything. That would change once the Christian Churches were established .Members would be expected to support those CC in every way including financially.

So the support of the ministry and leadership would evolve as the CC grew.

Back to my original comment for Chesterton……
Do you think the Apostles were “set aside” for ministry and trained by a very special teacher? The greatest teacher who ever lived.
How about the Apostle Paul, did he have the required skills, education and knowledge? Paul does say he fully trained in the law.

You have chosen a very interesting topic!

Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>