If there were a segment of only women in your church that needed specific help, what gender should the group be made up of to meet that need?
Acts 6:1-4 (NIV) In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.  So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.  Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them  and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word."
It is profoundly striking that the very first example of a deacon role, in a setting that begged female participation, only men were chosen! Not surprisingly, the event is consistent with what Jesus did and what the instructions for leadership in the Church clearly indicate.
GENDER AUTHORITY IN THE CHURCH
We will look in this chapter at what the Bible says about women in the place of Elder or Deacon, or in a position of authority over a man in the Church setting.
WHY IS THIS ISSUE IMPORTANT?
1. If a Church operates with a male only authority structure, and it is against what God has established for His Church, then that is rebellion and idolatry. If those who believe the opposite are trying to establish a false structure, the same applies.
2. If I am restricting what God has called women to, I am failing in the primary assignment of biblical leadership; to prepare people for works of ministry. On the other hand, if you are putting women into places of leadership where they are only called and gifted to support and be a help-mate, and removing the responsibility of men who are assigned and gifted to lead, you are setting up some deep frustrations and destructive falls. I believe that some of the gender frustrations and abuse we witness today are consequences of this very issue.
A. Acts 18:24-26 ( NIV ) Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures.
He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John.
He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.
Two questions have been raised by this passage;
1. Does Priscilla being mentioned before Aquila indicate her leadership? At the most we can only guess. However in I Corinthians 16:19 Aquila is mentioned first. At the least, it conflicts with specific instructions regarding gender authority both in the marriage and the Church.
2. Is this passage asserting that Pricilla was ‘teaching’ Apollos? Again, we can only speculate. I think there is a difference between private conversation and public teaching by a woman. I have deeply appreciated conversations with my wife and other woman about the things of God. Also, the idea that she was a ‘helpmate’ to her husband carries the weight of God’s design and scriptural instruction, and certainly involves valid participation within that framework.
B. Romans 16:1-2 (NASB) I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea;  that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and that you help her in whatever matter she may have need of you; for she herself has also been a helper of many, and of myself as well.
The contention of this passage is whether or not Phoebe is referred to as a ‘deacon’ in the sense of position and not just activity. The question comes because the Greek word for ‘servant’ is used for the position of Deacon in the Church.
1. The Greek tense used in Romans 16:1 is not the same as used in I Timothy 3:8.
2. The context of the first 16 verses of Romans 16 is thanking ‘workers’ in the Church. The use of the common word ‘servant’ is not unusual in that context, and does not stand out as a position of office in this setting. Again, we can only speculate, but at the expense of ignoring specific instruction and examples against the idea that it was a place of formal authority.
3. You cannot focus on ‘servant’, and leave out Paul’s play on ‘helper’, which we can also speculate refers to Phoebe being a ‘spiritual wife’ to the Church body.
4. Please note also that Paul validates and specifically honors the service Phoebe provided.
A passage that is arguable speculation at the most, can in no way override the instructions about, and other examples of, the office of Deacon that consistently limit the office to males.
C. 1 Cor. 11:1-16 (NASB-U) Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.
2Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you. 3But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. 4Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. 5But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved. 6For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head. 7For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. 8For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; 9for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake. 10Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God. 13Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, 15but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God.
The core of this passage is bracketed by;
verse 1 The command to be imitators of Christ.
verse 2 Praise for holding firmly to the traditions Paul taught.
verse 16 Concludes with the declaration that these things are the
common practice of the Church.
How many instructions have this kind of emphasis? Do these instructions sound like an option, let alone something that is not very important? Why would God inspire instructions that we brush off as ‘culturally not for us’ with this kind of emphasis?
Verse 3 is the foundational truth for the instructions that follow.
 But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.
Yet today it is deliberately ignored and treated as though it is a unnecessary part of Scripture.
1. There is usually no debate that Christ willingly submits himself to God without diminishing His intrinsic value and equality with God. In other words, submission does not demean or indicate inferior value. 1 Cor. 15:25, 28 (NIV) “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet... When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.”
Yet the second we address the second part about man being the head of woman, the cry is that submission demeans and diminishes the worth of woman. If it does for woman, then it also must for Christ.
2. The connecting in verse 3 of gender authority with God and Christ’s authority eliminates this passage from being simply a cultural context that might not apply to us today.
 Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head.
In the context of this verse, the ‘head’ is a symbol of authority. Man’s authority is visually symbolized by the uncovered head. Paul states that a man is ‘out of place’ when he even symbolizes abdicating his authority.
 But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved.  For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head (symbol of submission).
Please note that this praying and prophesying by a woman is occurring publicly in the Church. It is however practiced with a symbolic submission to authority.
Once again, Scripture declares that woman is the glory of man. Our society hasn’t viewed head covering as a symbol of authority for some time. It may be the wearing of pants (“Who wears the pants in this family.”), even though that is also disappearing as a symbol of submission.
At the least, I think this passage indicates the importance of visual authority and submission. The bottom line is this; Paul strongly encourages a symbolic message of authority by men and submission by women in the Church!
The reasons for this gender authority is explained next;
 For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.
Man represents an image of the authority of God! How can we diminish or distort a message like that so brazenly? Do we disobey and offend God so we won’t possibly offend women?
“Woman is the glory of man”, says that God intends for the wife to be a badge of honor for the husband. It also indicates how important honor from a wife is to the husband.
 For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man;
Here Paul uses ‘source’ not to set aside authority, but rather to establish it! Man has gender authority because woman was made from him.
 for indeed man was not created for the woman's sake, but woman for the man's sake.
The original purpose of creating the woman as a helpmate for man at creation is connected to the New Testament context as a basis for gender authority.
Genesis 2:18-24 (NASB) Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” 19Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. 20The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. 21So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. 22The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. 23The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
24For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh
Paul establishes gender authority based on the purpose of creation (Note that this is before the fall.). He repeats the same reasoning in I Tim 2:8-15!
 Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.
Literally, “...woman ought to have authority on her head...”
I can only guess that there is a communication in the heavenly realm about submission to authority. Possibly the example that as wives submit to husbands, angels submit to God.
 However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.  For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God.
Here Paul brings an attitude and balance check. In the Lord, we need each other having different but God designed complimentary purposes. It is good if both men and women remember that!
 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?  Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him,  but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering.
It seems to me that Paul is indicating a God-given moral sense about gender authority (’Judge for yourselves’, or ‘check your conscience‘), and the truth of that is reflected in nature. His argument at this point goes way outside a cultural context.
 But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God.
What is the ‘tradition’ we are called to observe in verse sixteen? What is the purpose that translates to our time? It is simply this; Our reflection both in and under authority is extremely important. That God-established authority is expressed even in appearance! While the expression of authority may vary according to culture, the principle remains in place no matter what the culture.
If a husband has authority in the home, would it not be very awkward to not have it in the Church, or outside the home? The context of this instruction is given in the Church.
Paul is very clear about the subject of this passage; “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.” He then goes on to give the reasons for that truth and calls for visible evidence of gender authority being practiced. He then affirms the value of both men and woman, and concludes by calling for agreement without contention.
The following passage is one of the most difficult passages on this issue. Some find it so much so, that they ignore it, even though Paul gives one of the strongest admonitions to obey it of any instructions. Others isolate it, and apply it in it’s strongest (and sometimes most harsh) possible interpretation. I suggest that it makes perfect sense in the context of which it is presented.
D. 1 Cor. 14:26-40 (NIV) What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.  If anyone speaks in a tongue, two--or at the most three--should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret.  If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God.
 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said.
 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop.  For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.  The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets.  For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.
This context of instructions for public prophecy make the most sense for understanding the instructions starting in v33b.
[33b] As in all the congregations of the saints,  women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says.
‘As in all the congregations’ assigns a universal application in the Church of God.
The reference to ‘as the Law says,’ connects the same principles and understanding of this issue in the Old Testament to New Testament practice in the Church. It not only upholds the classic understanding of gender authority, it dismisses the idea of a New Testament change occurring!
 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful (Reference to I Cor. 11:13.) for a woman to speak in the church.
I suggest that this command refers to the public judging of a prophecy. This then is only an application of woman being prohibited from public teaching. Also, would it be honoring or disgracing a husband, if his wife disagreed with his prophecy in public? How about a woman disagreeing with a male leader? It cannot mean a woman is not allowed to speak at all, since we have seen that prophecy and prayer by woman are allowed in other passages.
Some argue that this passage is referencing a situation unique to the Corinthian Church. They surmise that uneducated women were disrupting the service by talking, so Paul admonishes them to ‘be silent’. I reject that argument for these simple reasons;
1. It does not fit the context. Paul states the reason for the instruction, “Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said.”
2. If the instruction was specific to a local situation, it makes the passage useless to our time (“all scripture is profitable”).
3. It makes Paul’s response extreme and harsh, if not ridiculous. Imagine sitting in the setting this argument establishes, and hearing Paul respond as Scripture states.
4. The instruction on women remaining silent in the Church mirrors almost exactly the instructions given in I Timothy 2:9-15. There the passage prohibits the teaching of doctrine and references Creation and the Fall as the basis.
 Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached?  If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord's command.  If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored.
Notice how strong the admonition is, immediately following this instruction. Paul even instructs us on how to respond to someone who rebels against this command! What a condemnation of so many teachers today on this subject!
 Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.  But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.
This conclusion clearly ties the instructions on prophesy and tongues with the context of instructions about female participation.
While the focal point of this passage is instructions on prophecy, the principle of honoring gender authority is part of the basis of exercising ‘fitting and orderly’ worship.
E. 1 Tim. 2:1-3:15 (NASB-U) First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men,  for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.  This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,  who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,  who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.  For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
 Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.
Paul concludes this call to prayer with instructions specific to men, followed by instructions to women. Please note the reference to ‘all who are in authority’ in verse 2.
 Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments,  but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.  A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.  But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.
This is consistent with the instructions given in I Cor. 11 & 14.
Note the emphasis and spectrum Paul covers. “Entire submissiveness”, “I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man”, and “but to remain quiet.” It seems to me that for the second time, Paul wants to leave no question about gender authority in the Church setting. The action being prohibited is public teaching by women. The principle is not exercising authority over men.
How have we come to the place where this command is so rejected and disobeyed? It seems to me that we approach this passage the same way Satan did Eve. But instead of, “Did God really say, do not eat of this tree?”, we say, “Did God really say, ‘entire submissiveness’ and ‘not exercise authority over man‘?” Yes He did.
The reasons for this command follow;
 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.
Here is the second time (I Cor. 11) the order of creation is used as a basis for gender authority.
Note that the reasoning precedes the Fall, and supersedes culture.
 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.
The deception of Eve by the serpent is the third reason for gender authority (Order of creation and purpose are the first two.).
 But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.
Here in the New Testament, the Garden of Eden judgment of woman being under the authority of their husband is directly connected to child-bearing!
The qualifications for formal positions of authority in the Church are immediately shared in the very next chapter. How can it be said that after the above instructions and those in I Corinthians, women can now be placed in positions of authority over men in the Church?
[3:1] It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.  An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,  not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money.  He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity  (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?),  and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil.  And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
If gender authority is in place in the church, there is no struggle to distinguish when Paul is speaking to men or women or both regarding the offices of elder and deacon.
 Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain,  but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.  These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach.  Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things.  Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households.  For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
 I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long;  but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.
The qualifications indicate a male, in keeping with the first practice of deacon in Acts, and every single clear example of leadership being established by Christ, the Disciples and Paul!
Paul concludes this portion of the letter by stating, “so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.” I understand that to mean the Church is to be the pillar and support of truth. I think the instructions that proceed that statement are especially key truths to obey! Yet we turn around and violate the very context that command is given in!
F. Titus 1:5-9 (NASB-U) For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you,  namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion.  For the overseer must be above reproach as God's steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain,  but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled,  holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.
Again, the role of an elder indicates a male position.
G. Titus 2:1-5 (NASB-U) But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.  Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance.
 Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good,  so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,  to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.
There is not only a clear separation between instructions to men and women, but older women are even instructed to pass on the principle and practice of gender authority within the context of teaching younger women!
In every instruction, and every practice, we have seen that the role of deacon and elder specify a male. Just a face reading of these passages communicate a clear, consistent message. Other passages that are connected to gender authority in marriage and Church structure consistently replicate the same message. The practices in the Old and New Testament, with very little question, are uniform. Common sense tells us that male leadership in the home would become impossibly convoluted if it were reversed in the Church. The assertion that believers for centuries have been radically and horribly misled in this issue is so ridiculous, it makes even the idea seem demonic.
My encouragement to women is this; We must remember that whatever limits we think the historic belief and these passages place, they did not hinder the women of the Bible from being and doing everything that God intended and everything that brings life and godliness.