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Women In The Ministry


General James Green

THIS IS THE FINAL PART of our study on “Women In The Ministry,” and we are having great breakthroughs. We’re understanding things we’ve never learned before on the rightful position of a woman as a Christian. We’re finding out that women have just as much right in the ministry as men do, they have a rightful position, and what’s more, they are obligated to fill that position.

     As I mentioned in the last message, we are going to continue our study in 1 Timothy, chapter 2, where it talks about “usurping authority.” In this message, I’m going to let you see that this word “usurp” has nothing to do with “usurping authority” or “dominating over a person” as we know it today. I want to go into the background of this word so you will be able to see how the meaning has changed and evolved over time. Like I said in part #10, words and their meanings change and evolve over time and through different cultures, and that’s why we often need to go back and study the original words used in the Greek and Hebrew [Scriptures] in order to get a better idea of what they meant during the time when they were written. We need to put the Scriptures into their proper context and let the Spirit of God lead us and guide us into all truth.

     Was Paul in 1 Timothy really telling us that women could never teach, and that they have no place in the ministry? This is the question we have asked throughout this entire series, and I think we have come up with some very definite answers. A couple of the points we covered in the previous messages were: [1] That prophecy was, in fact, a form of teaching and that there were a number of women who prophesied in the early Church; [2] We also learned that the first person to deliver the message of the resurrection was a woman who Jesus himself sent; [3] In addition, we also found, through careful study of the Word, that Paul used many women to work with him in the Gospel. So we see that the question of women in the ministry does not rest solely on a few people’s interpretation of 1 Timothy chapter 2. Thank God there is more to it than that!



1 TIMOTHY 2:12 says, “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” We want to deal now with the word Paul used which has been translated to read “usurp authority.” In this instance, Paul used a particular word that is found only once in the entire New Testament. It is spelled [transliterated] authenteo, and it is an uncommon word compared to other words translated to mean “authority.” I want to go to Luke 10:19 in order to show you one of the other words used to mean authority. “Behold, I give unto you power (authority) to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power (authority) of the enemy...” The word used here for “power” or “authority” is exousia, which is a much more common word. Why did Paul choose to use such an unusual word in the text of 1 Timothy? What was he thinking about? Well, we’re going to find out.

     The point I’m trying to get across is that when Paul used this word in his original letter, it meant something totally different than “usurp authority.” It wasn’t until 250 or 300 years after Paul wrote Timothy that this word came to mean “usurp authority” or “to dominate.” When Paul used this word, he had no idea it would be translated to mean what it does to us today.

     This is something we need to take a closer look at. What was Paul really saying? Now I want to trace the evolution of this word and give you some background for a better understanding of what we’re dealing with. Consulting a Greek lexicon or dictionary, we find that this word authenteo “was used by Greek dramatists to describe suicide or a family murderer.” I want you to stop and think about this; it is very interesting. Later it came to mean “self-willed lord or autocrat.” To follow the thread of meaning, we see that both someone who commits suicide and a murderer are very “self-willed.” I also learned that this word was later used to describe four different types of murderers in legal briefs.

     [So] originally, this word meant someone who committed suicide, and over time it came to be used in legal cases to describe people who committed murder in different ways. Don’t forget, all this is relating back to the word Paul used which is translated into our language as “usurping authority.”



YOU WILL remember from earlier parts of this series that we discussed the woman Jezebel in Revelations 20 and how she was teaching God’s people to commit fornication and adultery. I mention this because this word we are looking at gradually came to acquire sexual overtones “relating to domestic and sexual services.”

     To sum this all up, if we take into account that Paul used this particular word instead of a more common word to describe the women in 1 Timothy, then it should become obvious that he was talking about a particular type of woman, not all Christian women in general.

     Paul was warning Timothy about women who were under the influence of a Jezebel spirit and gnostic teachings, and who were trying to MURDER GOD’S PEOPLE BY LEADING THEM INTO SEXUAL SINS. He was not making some hard, fast commandment that women could never teach God’s people. Far from it! In fact, as we mentioned earlier, Paul used many women to assist him in the ministry. He was [simply] zeroing in on a particular set of spirits, a destructive force that had entered in and was using particular women to lead God’s people astray. I can guarantee you that there were plenty of men teachers, both then and now, whom Paul would have denounced just as severely as the women for teaching false doctrine. It is a shame how satan has taken this Scripture, which was meant to safeguard and keep God’s people from harm, and has used it to keep Christian women in bondage all over the world.

     It is tempting for Christian men, when they read in 1 Timothy where Paul says, “I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man,” to use this as a club to beat their wives and other Christian women into “submission.” Experience has taught us that many times the women are more anointed and closer to God than the men!! We have to keep in mind that Paul was dealing with the congregation at Ephesus, which obviously had problems with women who were being used by a Jezebel spirit to undermine and destroy new converts through sexual sin. He was not saying that women could never teach again from then to the end of time! Yet how many Christians are so ignorant that they allow satan to keep them in bondage with the very Word of God that is supposed to set them free?! If someone is under the anointing of the Spirit of God, whether male or female, then who are we to tell them they can’t minister? Are we bigger than God? But at the same time, if a woman comes under the influence of a demonic Jezebel spirit and begins to teach that “a little sexual sin won’t hurt, as long as it’s ‘in the Lord,’” then it is our duty to put a stop to that false doctrine.



IT IS not surprising that the Ephesian Ekklesia had such problems with women when you stop and realize that they were right in the middle of the city that had one of the largest, if not the largest, temples to the goddess Diana in the ancient world! And of course, the rituals, doctrine and worship of Diana were saturated with sex. So you can imagine that with thousands of pagans fornicating around them in the name of religion, it was bound to have some effect on the still very young Christian converts. Paul was very much aware of this danger, and so were the other apostles. Let’s see what Peter had to say. Turn to 2 Peter 2:1—“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of, and through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” Peter was referring to those same teachings and damnable heresies: that you could have sexual freedom and have Christ at the same time.

     In verse 14 of the same chapter, he continues: “...Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbad the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage” [vv. 14-19]. If you read carefully, you can see that this whole Scripture is dealing with sexual sins, adultery, lusts of the flesh, wantonness. Peter was aware of the same spirits that Paul was talking about which were trying to infiltrate the Christian Church, promising them “liberty” but in reality desiring their destruction. Satan was out to get the new Christians, and he was going to use sex to do it.



CONTINUING ON, let’s go to 2 Timothy 3:1 and read another of Paul’s comments on this subject. Starting in verse 1: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof: from such turn away, for of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts.” Here we have it again, Paul warning Timothy about those who would try to infiltrate the Church and lead people astray with divers lusts. It sounds like he was describing the same Jezebel spirits and gnostic teachings that he was talking about in 1 Timothy—“...having a form of godliness...” They were unclean, they weren’t even Christians. They were teaching false doctrines that centered mostly around sexual sins. I’m focusing on this because I want to emphasize the fact that the early Church had a lot of problems with sexual sins. And these same spirits and doctrines have not gone away—they are still with us today, and we see their influence throughout the Church. Paul’s response to this demonic infiltration was to warn Timothy about these spirits, yet at the same time it is vital we realize that he was not forbidding women to teach as a general rule.

     If it was true, that women were never to speak or teach in church, then Paul would have made much more of it than he did, for such an important doctrine as this would warrant a much more solid and detailed explanation. Also, I believe that Jesus would have definitely mentioned it if women were to be permanently restricted from the pulpit. This would have been a cardinal doctrine that would have affected over half of the Body of Christ.



I MENTIONED earlier that there was a major temple of the goddess Diana in Ephesus. This Diana was, in fact, another form of the goddess Ashtoreth, the “goddess of increase and love” whose rituals and worship revolved around sex. In order to satisfy the many people who came to worship at the temple, there were thousands of temple prostitutes who would fornicate with the people as a sacrifice to Diana. They believed that fornication brought them into contact with the gods. It is quite plausible to believe that over the years, many of these prostitutes—disillusioned with their cheap and degraded lifestyle—were converted to Christianity; and when they converted, they carried along with them their old aura of lust and perversion.

     We know how this works because we’ve dealt with plenty of them in this ministry. When a prostitute first gets saved, they still carry the “aura” of a prostitute. They still flaunt their bodies around, and their conversation is still laced with sexual innuendos and overtones. This doesn’t mean that they haven’t given their heart to God and are saved, but until they get some deliverance and get cleaned-up spiritually, they still exhibit the mannerisms and personality of a prostitute. We’ve worked with many of them, and unfortunately, some don’t make it and [they] go back to prostitution because the pull of the flesh is so strong and they don’t give their hearts all the way to God. But those who do make it and are converted and cleansed have a wonderful testimony of the saving power of Jesus Christ.

     Back to Ephesus. We can imagine that the early Church there was continually bombarded by these pagan spirits that taught [that] you could have all the sex you wanted and still have God at the same time...in fact, sex would bring you closer to God!

     What Paul was doing was outlining the necessary precautions in his letter to Timothy in order to secure the safety of the young church. Taking into account the history and usage of the word authenteo, which [as we said] is used only once in the entire Bible, as well as the social conditions surrounding the Ephesian Christians, the only conclusion we can draw concerning 1 Timothy 2:12 is that Paul was warning Timothy to beware of women who would use their seductive wiles to lead people astray and ultimately murder them in the spirit with false doctrine and sexual sins. That is the type of woman Paul was dealing with when he told Timothy that women should not teach.

     For [an] example: Say we had a prostitute come into our group who had recently accepted Christ and been saved, and I opened the pulpit to her, allowing her to teach. Since she has only been saved a short time, she knows very little about Christianity, but she knows plenty about prostitution, and as she begins to teach the little she knows about Christ, she starts to make a mixture of Christianity and her old experiences as a prostitute. Because the demons in her are still so strong, everything she talks about relates back to her old life. Well, I would have to take her aside and tell her to stop and to sit down and learn the truth from others for awhile who are more advanced, until she becomes more fully converted and cleansed. But until then, I could not, with a clean conscience, allow her to teach, because the demons in her would continually be trying to seduce the rest of the Body, or, to put it in King James language, “usurp authority,” leading people into sin.


“...the only conclusion we can draw concerning 1 Timothy 2:12 is that Paul was warning Timothy to beware of women who would use their seductive wiles to lead people astray and ultimately murder them in the spirit with false doctrine and sexual sins.”


     Yet at the same time, if a woman has been converted and cleansed and is anointed by the Spirit of God to teach, she can be a valuable weapon against satan and can lead God’s people into holiness. The key to the whole question is this: Paul was not forbidding all women to be teachers, he was forbidding a certain type of woman to teach because they were unclean and were seducing men and women into sin. They were promising them godliness if people would follow their seducing doctrines. Until you study the background of these words and also the social context of the times, you will have a hard time understanding what Paul was really trying to say.



THE PROBLEM we are facing, which we have talked about from the beginning of this series, is that many people take 1 Timothy 2:12 literally [according to King James vocabulary] and are convinced that women should not be allowed to teach at all. On one hand, I could show you [something] in 1 Corinthians 2:13 where it says, “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” [That is:] We don’t need MAN’S wisdom to teach us but only that which the Holy Ghost teaches. This is what I’m trying to say: It’s not the man or the woman who is the teacher; it is the anointing of Jesus Christ, it is the Holy Spirit who is to be our Teacher. It is the anointing from God Almighty, [Him] using a human vessel, whether it be male or female. It is the Comforter whom the Bible tells us was to come back and teach us ALL things. It’s not man, it’s not woman, it’s God! God is not a respecter of people in the sense that they are male or female; obviously He knows the difference, because He created them. But when it comes to His anointing, it is neither male nor female, it’s the Spirit that leads us and guides us into all truth.

     There is neither male nor female, Jew nor Greek, bond nor free—we are all one in Christ! (1 Corinthians. 12:13—) “For by one Spirit are we ALL baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been ALL made to drink into one Spirit.”

     We can’t get away from the fact that God uses human vessels to teach us. God gave gifts to the Church, and one of those gifts was teaching. In Ephesians 4:11, Paul lists the gifts of the “five-fold ministry”: “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers...” Then he continues in verse 12 to tell us why: “...for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ.” In listing these five gifts, Paul did not differentiate between male and female; he did not say only men could teach. Remember, this letter is being written to the same church that Timothy was governing. Why didn’t Paul include the Scripture against women in this general epistle to the Ephesians which would have been read by the entire congregation? He didn’t include it because he never intended that all women should be prohibited from teaching or speaking in church, only a certain type of woman who posed a threat to the Body was to be stopped. It is a shame that so many men have twisted the meaning of 1 Timothy 2:12 in order to justify their hatred and jealousy for women who can be just as anointed in the ministry as any man.

     Going back to 1 Timothy 2:11, I want to make a point about interruptions. Verse 11 says, “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.” Paul cared for these women, and he wanted to teach them the right ways so they could advance in the Lord. He didn’t want them interrupting his teachings—interruptions are murder, aren’t they? A good analogy would be if I were to bring a group of [21st-century] lesbians in here from one of the college campuses and began to teach them that their lifestyle was ungodly and an abomination in God’s sight. I guarantee you, there would be hands going up everywhere...and LOTS of interruptions. They would be challenging me and arguing so much so, that I would never be able to teach them anything, and they would never get any help with their problem. Once again, we are dealing with a particular type of woman, one who would cause trouble and interruptions. Paul was not saying that women could never speak or ask a question in church again. No, he was pinpointing a particular spirit that would try to disrupt and interrupt the work of God. Paul had to say this to the Ephesian women for their own good, so that Timothy would be able to teach them and help them be truly converted and cleansed from the ways of the world.



OBVIOUSLY NOT all women were Jezebels, not all women were sexually unclean, not all women were followers of Diana nor held to gnostic teachings. There were a lot of “good women” who were used by God in the ministry at the same time these other spirits were going around.

     Another point to consider is that many of the women whom satan used to cause trouble did not do it intentionally—they were manipulated by false doctrines and evil spirits. They had been taught the wrong things and they needed to be “untaught,” they needed to be quieted down and [needed] not interrupt what God’s leaders were trying to teach them. Remember, of course, that these same restrictions would also apply to a man who was disruptive and unruly during a meeting. And there are many women in churches today who have an unruly, interrupting spirit, and who try to take control of the congregation so they can lead them into sin. That’s the kind of woman that needs to be rebuked. But on the other hand, I will say that there are many fine women who have a call of God on their life and who are obedient to the Spirit of God. There have been many women missionaries that would put a lot of men to shame with the things they have done in the love of Jesus. They could teach, they could preach, they could prophesy and exhort; they had, and still have, great ministries that are anointed by the Holy Ghost. It would be a SIN to hinder them with some false notion that women aren’t ever supposed to minister. It would be a SIN to hold a grudge against them because they may be outdoing you in the spirit. Remember, if a woman outdoes you under the anointing, it’s the anointing of God doing it, not the woman!

     It’s the anointing of God that breaks the yoke, it’s not whether someone is male or female, it’s the anointing that breaks the yoke. We must learn how to yield to the anointing of God, how to submit ourselves. MEN, SHUT YOUR MOUTHS AND LEARN! WOMEN, SHUT YOUR MOUTHS AND LEARN! LET’S ALL SHUT OUR MOUTHS AND LEARN FROM THE SPIRIT OF GOD. And then, when we get behind the pulpit, or when we get into the Sunday school, or when we go out as a missionary, or whatever we do in our position, we’ll go out in the right type of spirit. And our works will be blessed of God, and we’ll bring forth fruit unto God.



WOMEN, YOU need to know what your true position is in God, because you are always going to come up against male oppressors who will throw these Scriptures in your face; and if you can’t teach them all about a woman’s rightful place in the ministry, at least you will know in yourself where you stand. Sometimes it’s best to turn both cheeks and walk away. Don’t argue pointlessly with a man who won’t listen; just walk away and let him think he won the war with you. But if they are teachable, then you need to take the time to show them what the Scriptures we have been studying really mean, because many men will see the light and be very grateful for your efforts.

     We all need to be taught by the Holy Ghost, both male and female, we all need to submit ourselves to Jesus Christ in everything that we do. Paul was very submitted to Christ, he was a humble man, but yet he was firm. Paul was a fair man: he didn’t just let things go by when they needed to be dealt with. Thank God for people like Paul and for the women that worked with him in the Gospel. Amen.