Christians for Biblical Equality

Powerpoint Outline Only



  • Paul does not offer a clear prescriptive statemens
  • Paul answer questions and problems faced by the NT church in its early years
  • When no explicit instructions are given to us we tend to splinter into a myriad of opinions
  • We want to pick and choose texts
  • We are strongly influenced by post-NT church history


The questions to be addressed:


  1. Is there a stipulated form of ministry in the New Testament?
  2. How does Paul approach ministry in the NT?
  3. Are these ministries restricted according to gender?
  4. What does Paul allow in practice?
  5. What are the implications?

    1. Is there a stipulated form of ministry in the New Testament?


  • Old Testament
  • New Testament

– No clear distinctions

– No clear structure

– Leadership roles and responsibilities not clear

– Emphasis on attitude to authority &power

– We view the NT passages in the light of our own context and thus see offices and ministries where there are not clear intentional instructions

1 Thessalonians 5:12-13


Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Holdthem in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.

No fixed pattern of rule appears to have been imposed on the Pauline churches... The policy of Paul and his colleagues seems to have been to wait until qualities of spiritual leadership displayed themselves in certain members of a church and then to urge the others to acknowledge and respect those as leaders. One of the most obvious qualities of leadership was a readiness to serve the church and care for its needs. Such leaders did not do the appropriate work because they had been appointed as leaders; they were recognised as leaders because they were seen to be doing the work.

FF Bruce

2. How does Paul approach ministry?


  • Paul recognises the work of the Holy Spirit in proclamation of the gospel in his own ministry
  • Paul teaches that saving faith brings the Holy Spirit

The people of God as a community of believers owe their existence to their common, lavish experience of the Spirit


Romans 12:3-8

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourselfwith sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

1 Cor. 12:4-11

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

Eph. 4:11-12

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.

  • The gifts for ministry are given by the Holy Spirit, Christ, God

  • There are different gifts given - we do not all receive the same gifts

  • The gifts are given in order that the body of Christ would be edified, encouraged, built up, instructed etc

  • There are some who are gifted by God to lead the church and to be designated as apostles, prophets etc

  • Leadership is plural


Hans von Campenhausen describes the early church's vision of Christian community as:

"one of free fellowship, developing through theliving interplay of spiritual gifts and ministries, without the benefit of official authority or responsible elders"


3. Are these ministries restricted according to gender?

  • Paul does not make a statement that all ministries are available to women.
  • However, he does not make a statement that certain ministries are only for men!

Galatians 3:27-29

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

1 Corinthians 11:4-5

Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonours his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonours her head—it is the same as having her head shaved.


1 Corinthians 14:26-40

What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up... For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged... For God is not a God of disorder but of peace— as in all the congregations of the Lord's people.

Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church...

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.

1 Tim 2:11-12

A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.

  • Paul emphasises correct worship that does not bring the gospel into disrepute.
  • Paul is primarily concerned that the gathered community grow, strengthen, worship with each one contributing through the use of their god-given, spirit-empowered, Christ- focussed gifts.
  • The teachings we have suggest that Paul's basis for ministry in the church is not gender-related.
  • Where Paul does make statements re women exercising their gifts/ministry it is to ad hoc situations and the injunctions are not timeless principles.

4. What does Paul allow in practice?

Rom 16:1-16

  • Junia – woman apostle (v 7)
  • Phoebe

    – 16:1 diakonon = minister when referring to Tychucus, Epaphras, Timothy, Paul, Christ Jesus

    - servant when referring to Phoebe!

    – 16:2 prostatis = leader, protector (not an office)

  • Priscilla sunergon = fellow worker= Timothy
  • Nympha Col4:15 =Household church carers/leaders

5. What are the implications?

  • A community in which men and women carry out the tasks of the church life and participate equally in the decision-making process
  • A community in which both men and women use their talents as delegates to the assemblies of church government
  • A community in which both men and women seek the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, which brings unity, rather than depending on the wisdom of human leaders which often bring division
  • A community in which the function, position and service of men and women is not based on their gender but on their gifting and their Christian character so that they are all built up through teaching, preaching, prophetic word, administration, acts of service, pastoral care etc.
  • A community in which both men and women understand that Christ is head of the Church, his body
  • A community in which mutual submission is practiced

Marilyn Smith Gender or Giftedness


In our attempts to live together as a biblically functioning community, we are committed to the following values:

  • To provide opportunity for ministry based on giftedness and character without regard to gender
  • To pursue the kind of purity and loyalty in relationships between genders that led new Testament writers to describe themselves in terms of family –brothers and sisters
  • To use sensitivity in language that reflects the honor and value God desires for maleness and femaleness and to encourage the use of translations of Scripture that accurately portray God's will that his church be an inclusive community
  • To be intentional where appropriate in overcoming sexist elements of our culture and to offer encouragement to women in areas where there giftedness has traditionally been discouraged
  • To teach and model these values to members of our community, to the church and to the world at large.

    The Willow Creek Community Church Statement on Women and Men in Leadership