Ordination of Women and the New Testament
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Ordination of Women and the New Testament


Jesus treated women in a revolutionary way—affirming their personhood, appreciating their intellectual and spiritual capacities, accepting some of them into His inner circle of traveling companions, and honoring them with the first announcement of His resurrection. Is this evidence that He intended to open the way for women to serve as pastors and elders?

Jesus did indeed treat women as persons of equal value to men. He admitted them into His fellowship. He took time to teach them the truths of the Kingdom of God. A woman was first with the story of the resurrection, and at least one woman (Mary) received the Holy Spirit with the others at Pentecost. Yet the fact remains that Christ called no woman to be part of the twelve apostles. Why would Jesus not have commissioned women to preach or teach publicly, if this had been His intention? Whatever the cultural situation may have been in Palestine (we have very little contemporary evidence of how women were treated there), such a move would have been quite acceptable in the larger harvest field, since the priestly role of women was readily accepted in the Gentile world, where the Gospel was to be preached.

Jesus never dealt with the issue of a leadership role for women. But through the Holy Spirit He clarified that issue in the writings of the apostles. Those messages are as much the voice of Jesus as if He had spoken them while on Earth. Jesus' Own choice of twelve male apostles was consistent with the Old Testament headship role man was called to fulfill at home and in the community of faith. The same role structure was respected in the life and order of the apostolic church.

Some say that Paul, in contrast to Jesus, was an antifeminist who viewed women as inferior and for this reason excluded them from leadership roles within the church.

Is this the same Paul who proclaimed, “There is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28)? In this well-known statement Paul affirmed the spiritual oneness in Christ of both men and women. In other places he commended a significant number of women for working intensively with him in the missionary outreach of the church. In fact, he may have worked more actively with women than Jesus did. A number of women were “fellow workers” with Paul in his missionary outreach (Romans 16:1-3, 6, 12, 13, 15; Philippians 4:2, 3).

- Adventist Affirm, Answers to Questions about Women's Ordination - Ordination of Women and the New Testament