Can a woman be a pastor or preacher according to the Bible? What does the Bible say about whether a woman can or cannot be a pastor or a preacher? Let’s allow the Bible to answer this question for us and not rely upon human opinion.
Qualifications of a Pastor
First Timothy 3:1-7 “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.”
There is one overriding word in these verses about the qualifications of being an overseer or a pastor and it is the word “he.” Nowhere in these verses is there a reference to a woman being qualified. In fact the Greek word used in 1 Timothy 3:12 where it speaks of a deacon’s qualifications is “aner” which means “with reference to sex, of a male,” and “of a husband” so there can be no mistake that a woman can be referred to and clearly these verses are not in the neuter (gender neutral). It doesn’t say that she should be a wife of one husband or that she must manage her own household well, and that she must be keeping her children submissive for it is God Who has placed the man as the head of the family. The word “he” is used in these seven verses seven times and never is there even once a reference to “she” or to a woman, so the Bible is clear that it is he that is to be the husband of one wife, he that should be able to manage his own household, and that he should be keeping his children submissive. Even in the qualifications of a deacon, there is no reference to a female but only to the male or masculine so there is no room for interpreting this as a woman being qualified to be a pastor or a deacon of a church. Having said that, there is precedence in the New Testament for a woman to be a deaconess but nowhere is she given the responsibility or is allowed to teach the church.
Further Pastoral Qualifications
Titus 1:5b-9 “appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”
Once more we see Paul’s teaching about an elder, pastor, or church leader as “he” and never does he give a reference to the female gender. The masculine is used in these verses and the obvious reference is to the man or the husband, and just like in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, he should be the “husband of one wife,” he “must be above reproach,” “he must not be arrogant,” and “he must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine” while rebuking “those who contradict it.” How someone can fit into these two sections of Scripture (Titus 1:5-9 and 1 Tim 3:1-7) that a woman can be a preacher or a pastor is beyond me and goes beyond what is taught in God’s Word, the Bible.
Examples of Scripture
If there is a woman pastor in the New Testament I could not find her. Nowhere in all of the New Testament church is there given a reference of a woman as a pastor and in fact in the Old Testament every single priest was designated as a male. What we do find is that the only qualifications given to be a pastor are given to men and that the standards of these men in their family, society, and in the church is that only given to men. Every apostle, pastor, deacon, and elder has been a male with the exception of deaconesses but these deaconesses’ are not in a position of having authority over men or over a church. That would conflict with the principle that a woman should not be teachers in the church. When Paul was teaching Timothy about how the church and church services should be administered he wrote “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet” (1 Tim 2:12) because “Adam was formed first, then Eve” (1 Tim 2:13a).
Instructions for Church Worship Services
Paul writes to the Corinthians regarding orderly church worship services in 1 Corinthians 14:33-35 writing “As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.” Paul is speaking very specifically in this chapter about church administration and particularly about worship services and this applies, as he writes, to “all the churches of the saints.” This doesn’t mean that a woman cannot speak in church but Paul is referring to teaching in the church, which you can see in the context of this chapter, and which is God-ordained for men to do…as pastors, elders, deacons, or teachers.
If you can convince me from Scriptures then I will gladly admit that I am wrong but I am relying only on what the Word of God says. I have not inserted my personal opinion. I can be wrong but we know that the Scriptures do not err. Human reasoning or compromising of the Scriptures is not relevant to what God has already spoken in His Word. We cannot improve upon the Word nor should we ever attempt to. This does not mean that women are inferior just as Jesus submitted to the will of the Father but He was no less God than the Father was. Human pride can sometimes cause friction over this issue but let us stand firm on what the Bible says and not on human opinion for humans are frequently wrong but God never is.
Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look Like: A Look at the Bible Facts
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon