Women and Men in Christ´s Church



This edition of our Newsletter completes our series on gender equality in the teachings of the Bible. Here, two topical issues; “women to ask their husbands” and “if anyone shall purge himself” are discussed.

Women to ask their Husbands

“And the woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is pleased to dwell with her, do not let her leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; else your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. But if the unbelieving one separates, let him be separated. A brother or a sister is not in bondage in such cases, but God has called us in peace. For what do you know, O wife, whether you shall save your husband? Or what do you know, O man, whether you shall save your wife?” (1Co 7:13-16).

Paul who wrote that women should be silent in the church, and forbid them to teach or to have authority over the man, also wrote the above scripture. He strongly contends that Christians women should not leave their unbelieving husband if they would like to stay with them because the unbelieving husbands are sanctified by their wives. The anticipation of Paul here is that the believing wives may be able to save their husbands. In such a case, does Paul still expect the believing wives to go home and ask their husbands questions that they seek answers to, as proposed in 1Co 14:35? So if the women do not have husbands to whom would they ask their questions? If the believing wives, through godliness and submission, learn the word of God and mature and are able to save their husbands, do these husbands become mature automatically to teach their wives of the word of God? One would submit that in such instances, God or Paul would not condemn the godly Christian women who teach their husbands the ways of God.

Similarly, it was a slave girl who witnessed to Naaman through his wife for him to receive deliverance from his leprosy (1Kgs 5:1-27). In effect, a woman led a man to God. Should God punish a woman if she witnesses Christ to unbelieving men and disciples them when they believe in Christ? Bible does not contradict itself, so the contexts within which instructions were given should be well considered. The next section discusses an important scripture concerning people God uses in the church.

If Anyone Purges Himself

“But in a great house, there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. Therefore if anyone purges himself from these, he shall be a vessel to honor, sanctified and useful to the Master, prepared for every good work” (2Tim 2:20-21).

It is believed that Paul was not referring only to men but the church which included women. Despite the honor bestowed on a woman in a passage as in Proverbs 31, in actual practice outside of the home, she was a subservient person. The life of the Greek woman, as in most communities today, was restricted mostly to the home. She was supposed to live in her own quarters and did not come to the public sphere. She was hardly involved in community meetings or activities. What needs to be understood is that when a woman became a Christian, she was, for the very first time in her life, considered a complete human being.

In a background like this,  Paul would write that in a great house (understandably, the church) there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. These differences exist in the Christian fellowship, but if any shall live in purity and be committed to the things of God, God would choose him or her for His own use. Human beings may be contending with God for refusing to allow God to use women for the preaching of the Gospel, but the purposes of God are always established.


It is the divine purpose of God to include both men and men in His own plans. He places no limitations on anyone who desires to work with Him in any capacity. God does not discriminate on the basis of gender. Humility of simple men to learn from those women who are seasoned believers is recommended.

Prayer: Dear lord, teach our hearts to know your ways, in Jesus´ name. Amen!



There has been an old-age debate on the issue of whether or not women are supposed to teach, preach or prophesy in the church. To some people, women are supposed to be absolute silence in the Christian churches, whereas some believe that both men and women have equal opportunity to be active in the churches. This edition of our Newsletter discusses the place of prophetesses in the New Testament.

Women Prophesying

Women in the New Testament were not expected to be altogether silent in all the churches. They had the opportunity to exercise their spiritual gifts as did their male counterparts. Paul acknowledges that women publicly pray and prophesy in Christian gatherings. This is supported by the quote below;

“But I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ: and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying with his head covered dishonors his Head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head; for that is even the same as if she were shaved. For if the woman is not veiled, let her also be shorn. But if it is a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be veiled” (1Co 11:3-6).

The above passage of the Bible clarifies the position of Paul on the inclusion of women in the Christian churches. In the first place, Paul accepts that both men and women have the potential and the freedom to pray or prophesy in the public worship of the church (1Co 14:23). Public prayer or prophecy is supposed to be uttered audibly and understood for the congregation to be edified (1Co 14:16-17). If women were not permitted to speak in the church (1Co 14:34), how could they be encouraged to cover their heads when praying or prophesying? (1Co 11:3-13)? Again, how could women pray or prophesy to edify other believers (1Co 14:3-6) as stated above? It is possible that Paul was addressing a specific issue in this particular church in order to bring sanity to their congregations. This is buttressed by his statement about a  long hair of some men in the church (1Co 11:14). If nature teaches that long hair of men is a shame to them, then Jesus Christ or Samuel (1Sam 1:11), Samson (Jdg 13 and 16) and the other Nazarites (Num 6:5) are not good examples of faith. This means that Paul was referring to some cultural settings within which the church was situated but he was not prescribing a universal law for all the churches.

Paul, the author of the said epistle, does not intend to silent all women in the churches throughout all generations in every congregation. It is understood from the book of Acts 21:8-10 that the daughters of Philip, the Evangelist, were prophetesses. If they were not to prophesy in the churches what then made them prophetesses?. The prophecies of all godly people are meant to edify both men and women (1Co 14:26, Eph 4:11-12). Paul also writes that when the believers come together, every one of them has a psalm, a doctrine, a tongue, or a revelation to edify the church (1Co 14:26). The author does not exclude women from these congregation, therefore, the “everyone” is inclusive of the believing women. Women, therefore, had a voice in the Christian churches.

It could not be accepted that these prophetesses were prophesying only to the women, or they told their prophecies to some men, who then told the church what the Spirit had for them. The author´s mention of prophet Agabus in the tenth verse of Acts 21, directly after mentioning the prophetesses, presupposes similar roles played by the prophets and the prophetesses.


God has endowed both men and women with various gifts, for the purpose of edifying the church. All people, both males, and females should, therefore, be given the opportunity to exercise their gifts without unacceptable restrictions.

 Prayer: May God grant the leadership of the church the wisdom needed to manage the gifts and abilities of the members in ways that are approved by Him. In Jesus’ name. Amen!