Buddhism teaching

What does the Bible say about women who teach and prophesy?

A recurring question regarding women in the church looks like this: “What does the Bible say about women who teach and prophesy?” The follow-up question is usually, “And what does this mean for us now?” “

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk from Pexels. Used with permission.

But let’s start with some definitions:

Education: Convey the truth to another person. Truth can be spiritual in nature, explaining the things of God, but also practical in applying the word of God to life.

Prophecy: A direct message from God, transmitted by an individual and directed to a person or group, intended to elicit a specific response. As God’s spokesperson, a prophet held great spiritual authority among the people.

Prediction: Predicting a future event, usually in the form of a warning.

Prediction: Urging the public to obey God, encouraging them to have God save them and provide for their needs.

In the Old Testament, the prophets were revelators of the truth, often mixing their speeches with prediction and revelation. In the New Testament, prophecy is listed as one of the most desired spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12) and is generally understood to include revelation — a prophet in the church can interpret the word of God and then speak in it. a special situation with truth and exhorting believers to holiness.

So, with these basic definitions, let’s look at what the Bible says about women as teachers and prophets. Does God allow it? If so, in what capacity? If only in certain titles, what are they? If not, why not (or at least, where do we see this command)?

Prophecy

The Bible never comes straight out and says, “Women can be prophets. But, that doesn’t say about men either. On the contrary, the authors of the sacred text have included stories of prophets, and several women are part of this group. So we know that they existed, with the blessing of their community, and left enough legacy to be included in the scriptures. The most important Old Testament female prophets were Deborah and Huldah.

Deborah, whose story can be found in Judges 4-5, was also a judge (one of the Israelite political and judicial leaders before the establishment of the monarchy). In Judges 4: 5, her job as a judge was to “settle disputes” between those who came to see her at her headquarters. In verse 6, her prophetic voice is heard when she summons a general from northern Israel, Barak, and says to him: “Did not the Lord God of Israel command you: ‘ Goes… ?’ Because of his authority as a prophet, show in the formula “Has the Lord, God of Israel, not commanded you …”, Barak and the host welcomed his leadership and obeyed his words. . It’s a fantastic story, go read it all.

Huldah served in the royal courts of Judah during the reign of King Josiah (2 Kings 22:14). When the king ordered the cleaning of the temple, his men discovered a parchment. Seeking to verify its validity, the king had it sent to Huldah. The scroll that she verified traditionally has been understood as the Torah (Jewish tradition) or the book of Deuteronomy (Christian tradition). Huldah is considered the first person to declare a text “holy scriptures” and the early church included her (along with Miriam, Anna and Deborah) as proof of the power of the Spirit over women.

In the New Testament we read of Anne in the temple, Pentecost, the daughters of Philip, and passages such as 1 Cor 11 in which women and prophecy are discussed.

Shortly after Jesus’ birth, Hannah the prophetess spoke of him in the temple “to all who eagerly awaited the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38).

On the day of Pentecost, the apostle Peter declared that the coming of the Holy Spirit was the beginning of the “last days” of which the prophet Joel speaks.

… I will pour out my Spirit on all men. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your elders will have dreams, your young people will have visions. Even upon my servants, male and female, I will pour out my Spirit in those days (Acts 2: 17-18, citing Joel 2:28, 29).

During the journeys of the apostle Paul, he met Philip the evangelist, who “had four daughters who prophesied” (Acts 21: 9).

When Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, he gave instructions on the proper attire of “every man who prays or prophesies” and “every woman who prays or prophesies” (1 Cor. 11: 4-5). Paul’s words reveal that he assumed women prophesied. He then listed some of the gifts of the Spirit, including wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, etc. (1 Cor 12) and exhorted every hearer (reader) to contribute to the health of the whole body of Christ using the gifts given by the spirit. He ends chapter 12 with a short list of people serving the church, presumably in leadership roles :, and different kinds of languages ​​”(v 28). He ends his section on gifts by introducing “the most excellent way” (v 30): love.

Education

To teach is to transmit the truth. The biblical text provides ample evidence that women have been empowered and authorized to offer God’s truth — to men as well as to other women.

Abigail exhorted David (yes, that one) with wise counsel that saved his reputation (1 Sam 25). ,

The woman of Proverbs 31 “speaks with wisdom, and a faithful instruction is in her tongue” (Prov 31:26).

Mary (Luke 2) spoke the truth in her song of praise to Elizabeth, known as the Magnificat.

The woman at the well told her people the truth when she ran to tell them about Jesus. They responded to his testimony and welcomed Jesus (John 4).

The above examples show informal opportunities that occur in the normal course of life. People teach other people, and women are no different from men in this regard. In a more formal setting, we find Paul encouraging women to teach in the church: 1 Corinthians 14:26 states, “whenever you meet, each one” – which includes men and women – “has a … teaching (didakē)… ”. Likewise, Colossians 3:16 encourages all believers (cf. v. 11), “teach one another and admonish one another with all wisdom.”

A limit ?

In his letter to Timothy, in which he asks him to maintain the doctrinal line against false teachings in Ephesus, Paul encourages him to “let a woman learn” (1 Tim 2:11) but not to allow a woman to learn. ‘teach a man (v. 12). Scholars note that the cult of Artemis in Ephesus was dominated by women. When they converted to Christianity, they needed to learn the correct doctrine and not go out and start teaching as if they were already experts. Many understood that this passage prohibited women from exercising any sort of teaching authority over men at any time (some argue “in any place or under any circumstance” as well) in church history. The debate continues to rage: Was Paul laying down a universal principle of male dominance in the teaching of scripture, or was he giving specific instructions to the church in Ephesus at the time? Someone in Paul’s life alludes to his point of view.

Priscilla

Priscilla and her husband, Aquila, worked alongside Paul to establish churches in Corinth (Acts 18: 1-11; 1 Cor 16: 19-20), Ephesus (Acts 18:19; 2 Tim 4:19) and Rome (Rom 16: 3-5). His name appears both in Acts and in Paul’s letters. She is widely regarded as one of the early church leaders. On one particular occasion, she and Aquila came alongside a young preacher named Apollos who, although very learned, did not understand the gospel in its fullest sense. “When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained the way to God more adequately.”

Paul had no problem associating with women (see Romans 16 for a list of ten women he congratulated), whether they serve, give, or teach. When we weigh our understanding of 1 Tim 2: 11-12, we should consider it in light of all of Scripture, not isolated from a text of evidence. If Paul never allowed women to teach men, why does he willingly partner with Priscilla in particular? Why does he make no distinction between men and women when discussing the spiritual gifts of teaching?

The gifts of teaching and prophecy are given to believers, men and women, at the will of the Holy Spirit, to be used to encourage, correct, and instruct the church. What does this mean to you? If you know you are good at teaching the scriptures, teach. Work with your faith community to find ways to serve through your donations. This applies to all gifts, of course! But don’t let a verse hold you back.

“Do your best to present yourself to God as approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who handles the word of truth correctly (2 Tim 2,15).