Gender, ‘Five-Fold’ Ministry And Church Leadership

The Bible’s revelation of the gender of those in governing church leadership is highly significant.

God’s Word reveals that the ‘five-fold’ positions of pastor, evangelist, apostle, teacher were undertaken by males only. The prophet position reveals that God calls both male and female to this role.

Although a woman can be a prophet, or more precisely prophetess, she cannot engage in a teaching role in doing so. This is because the Word in 1 Timothy 2 states that women are prohibited from teaching nor can they have authority over a man.

This is due to the created order in that man was created first and that Eve was the one deceived at the Fall as revealed in verse 13 of 1 Timothy 2. Further, since a duty of the pastor is to teach God’s Word, which is equally inherent in the roles of evangelist, apostle and teacher, the role cannot be held by a female.

This is given more weight because the pastor is called to teach both men and women. In this respect, 1 Timothy 2:12 states that women are also not permitted to exercise authority over men therefore a woman clearly cannot teach a man nor can they teach male and female children because of the prohibition on teaching. The purpose of this is to represent that God called men to be the teachers because of their position of authority established at Creation.

In saying the above, this does not mean that a woman cannot engage in other teaching, or more precisely, training roles. For instance, Paul the Apostle instructs Timothy in Titus 2 that women should train the younger women to be godly and take care of their households. Although a mother of her children would naturally involve herself in teaching them by the way that she models Christian virtue, the important factor is that if she is married her own teaching of them would fall under her husband’s instruction and authority.

The elder is an overseer in the same way as an overseeing minister in 1 Timothy 3. The role is for a male only as stated in the same chapter as well as Titus 3. It is important to note that not every elder will be called to preach and teach, unlike the conventional belief about this. This is because Titus                 states that elders are worthy of all honour especially those who preach and teach and therefore this clearly implies that there are some elders that operate in a preaching and teaching capacity and others that don’t.

As a result then, it is not necessarily the case that every pastor is an elder nor that every elder is a pastor, though one may hold both positions if called. The elder is a distinct position in the way of the five-fold ministry which unfortunately is often misunderstood by the Church where it almost exclusively labels every pastor as an elder which is incorrect as aforementioned. The elder is an overseer who is the position of leading a flock though this doesn’t necessarily mean he will do so in the classic preaching and teaching capacities. Instead, it could be in other areas such as prayer or general church administration where he is called upon to lead the people.and yet his qualification is such that he is able to take care of them as if he were a pastor.

There is one more thing here to say about the word ‘overseer’ or ‘bishop’, as some translations state. The word bishop represents the overseeing role that a pastor, evangelist, prophet, teacher or elder may have in the care of a congregation.

That is, the ‘bishop’ is not a separate and formal office in itself like the positions above, but it merely describes the nature of these positions. If this were not the case then it would mean that the ‘five-fold’ ministries stated in Ephesians 4:11 is in effect extended by the further position of ‘bishop’ in the equipping of the saints yet of course this is not the case. Therefore, the designation of the position of ‘bishop’ does not exist which by extension is obviously the same for an archbishop and which can in no way replace in name the designated office of the pastor.

Critically, such positions are in actuality creating a separate office that is unbiblical and therefore they should be abandoned by those that hold these positions because it is a serious offence before God.

Lastly, the title of ‘Reverend’ is not permitted to be used. It is not a biblical term or position or role and certainly church leaders cannot be assigning such a word and title to themselves. The word ‘revere’ within Reverend relates to God Himself and in fact there are very few Bible translations which even contain the word and in this regard the KJV mentions it only once and it is attributed to God in that instance. It is a serious offence against God to be using a word that is attributed to Him only which includes allowing others to use that word in addressing another person.