The question of a woman’s role in ministry is a pressing concern for today’s church. It is paramount first, because of our need for the gifts of all the members God has called to serve the Church. The concern, however, has extended beyond the Church itself. Increasingly, secular thinkers attack Christianity as against women and thus irrelevant to the modern world.
The Assemblies of God and other denominations birthed in the Holiness and Pentecostal revivals affirmed women in ministry long before the role of women became a secular or liberal agenda.1Likewise, in the historic missionary expansion of the 19th century, two-thirds of all missionaries were women. The 19th-century women’s movement that fought for women’s right to vote originally grew from the same revival movement led by Charles Finney and others who advocated the abolition of slavery. By contrast, those who identified everything in the Bible’s culture with the Bible’s message were obligated both to accept slavery and reject women’s ministry.2
For Bible-believing Christians, however, mere precedent from church history cannot settle a question; we must establish our case from Scripture. Because the current debate focuses especially around Paul’s teaching, we will examine his writings after we have briefly summarized other biblical teachings on the subject.