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Are Women Included Among the Elders? Can a Woman be a Prophet?

Women have a powerful place of ministry in the church depending on the grace that is given to each woman.  There is so much extra-biblical teaching on the ministry of women that it is causing real problems in the church.

The Bible says that when women prophesy, they need to wear a head covering for the sake of the angels, and men ought not to wear a head covering.  Prophecy happens on three levels of authority.  There is the spirit of prophecy, the gift of prophecy, and the ministry of the prophet.  This ministry is not necessarily given only to the office of apostle.  A member of a local assembly could have this ministry.  The ministry of the prophet always grows out of a gift of prophecy as the prophet gives himself or herself totally to the Spirit of prophecy.  Whether women or men, members can submit themselves to their spiritual gifts whatever those gifts may be.

As far as apostles go, the Bible speaks of two offices that apostles can hold: elder and deacon.  Apostles travel.  They have authority over the church universal, not as individuals, but as the body of apostles that have been set by God.  The apostles act in unity in all that they do. This is not to say that all of the people who say that they are apostles are really apostles.  You can see that the problem of people claiming authority when God had not set them is very obvious in the New Testament writings.  It creates a difficult situation when a brother (or sister in some cases) in Christ claims authority that they don't actually have.  In the current move of the Spirit, God has set both traveling elders (apostles) and traveling deacons (apostles).

Paul was a traveling elder (apostle).  Peter was a traveling elder (apostle).  Titus, Timothy, and Stephen were all traveling deacons (apostles).

An elder, whether a local elder or a traveling elder, is to be apt to teach.  James says that there should be very few who teach because of the judgement that can come when a teacher makes mistakes.  Women are not to be put on the firing line in this way.  They are to be protected and sheltered.  This is the reason that a woman should not teach.  Paul is very clear that women are not to teach.  Also, an elder is set to rule over the church, but the Bible tells us that women are not to exercise authority over men.  For these reasons, women are not to fill the office of elder, neither in the local church nor to the universal church as a traveling elder.

However, women have powerful ministries in the church.  Testimonies, healings, the word of knowledge, the word of wisdom, prophecy, songs, songs in the Spirit, intercession, miracles, tongues and interpretation of tongues, helps, and every other form of ministry, depending on the grace that is given to the particular woman.  The only things that are withheld from them are teaching and exerting authority over a man.

Last updated: May, 2012
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