Five-Fold Ministry, Gender And Church Leadership – Part 1 of 2

(Part 2 of 2 article at bottom, titled – ‘Can women ‘speak’ in church? A very brief observation’)

‘Leadership, And Gender’

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 (Eph 4:11) of pastor, evangelist, apostle and teacher were undertaken by males only. It reveals that God calls both male and female into the prophet position.

Although a woman can be a prophet, or more commonly a ‘prophetess’, she cannot engage in a teaching role in doing so. This is because the Word in 1 Timothy 2:12 states that women are prohibited from teaching nor can they have authority over a man.

This is due to the created order where 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 for instance the pastor is to teach God’s Word, which is equally inherent in the roles of evangelist, apostle, teacher and prophet, the role cannot be held by a female.

This is made more important because the pastor is ordained to teach both men and women. In this respect, as above, 1 Timothy 2:12 states that women are also not permitted to exercise authority over men in the church which means that they are not permitted to be leaders over men in Church affairs. Therefore, it is clear that women cannot teach men nor can they ordinarily teach male and female children because of the prohibition on teaching as a whole. That is, the male is to be in the role of ‘teaching’ in all areas of the Church of God. Thiis means that a woman cannot teach bible doctrine nor the Bible as a whole irrespective of whether or not it is done in a formal and informal position or role of ‘teacher’ and ‘teaching’.

The purpose of this is to represent that God called men to be the primary teachers of humanity because of their position of authority established at Creation. Even so, this is not to say that women have not exercised leadership over men because of God’s Will. For instance, we see the example of Deborah the judge who led Israel for a period of time. However, it should be said that the Judges book reveals that it was entirely men that otherwise held this role. Therefore, that, it wasn’t God’s original Will that a female would exercise the position though due to sin and rebellion on the part of Israel God enabled Deborah to rule and which we find evidence for such decisions such as Isaiah chapter 3.

Moreover, in saying the above, the biblical domain of strictly male leadership in the New Testament Church does not mean that a woman’s value is diminished. It also doesn’t mean that she is inferior to men or cannot engage in other teaching, or more precisely, training roles. For instance, Paul the Apostle in Titus 2 verses 3 to 5 instructs Titus 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 ‘five-fold’ minister in 1 Timothy 3. Such overseeing role is also for a male only as stated in the same chapter as well as in Titus chapter 1.

Importantly, it is noteworthy that not every elder will be called to preach and teach, unlike the conventional belief about this. This is because in 1 Timothy 5:17 it 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 holds the position of ‘elder’ nor that every elder is a ‘five-fold’ (Eph 4:11) ‘pastor’, though one may hold both positions if called. Further, the elder is in 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.

Rather, the elder is an overseer who is in the position of leading a flock in some way though this doesn’t necessarily mean he will do so in the classic preaching and teaching capacities as mentioned above. Instead, it could be in other areas such as prayer or general church administration (1 Tim 1:17) where he is called upon to lead the people and yet his ‘overseer’ position (Tit 1:5-7) is such that he is able to take care of them as if he were a ‘pastor’.


There is one more thing to say about the word ‘overseer’, or ‘bishop’, as some translations state. The word bishop represents the overseeing role that a pastor, evangelist, male prophet, apostle, teacher or elder may have in the care of a congregation (John 21:15-17 – Peter’s ‘apostleship’ included a ‘shepherd’/’overseer’s’ role).

That is, the ‘bishop’ is not a separate and formal office in itself like the five-fold positions above. Rather, as evidenced above, the word merely and equivalently describes the ‘overseeing’ nature of these five-fold positions for those who specifically engage in an ‘overseer’ or ‘shepherd-like’ role. If the ‘bishop’ was a separate ‘office’ (which it is not) then it would mean that the ‘five-fold’ ministries stated in Ephesians 4:11 are in a sense extended by the additional ‘office’ of ‘bishop’ in the equipping of the saints which seems logical though this is clearly unbiblical.

Therefore, the designation of the ‘office’ of the ‘bishop’ is error for it does not exist which by extension is obviously the same for an ‘archbishop’. This consequently means that any designation of the office of ‘bishop’ can in no way stand alongside or replace in name the designated office of the pastor for instance. This is because the pastor and every other ‘overseeing’ male in a five-fold role and the elder is inherently an ‘overseer’ or the equivalent  ‘bishop’ by function.

Critically, then, the ‘bishop’ and ‘archbishop’ positions are in actuality creating a new Office which is unscriptural. Therefore, they should be quickly abandoned by those that hold these positions because it is a serious offence before God to establish such as an ‘office’.


God’s Word does not permit women to be deacons or ‘deaconesses’. This is because 1 Timothy 3:12 states that only a male can hold the office of the deacon due to the qualification of having one wife. Furthermore, the formal position of deacon as an ‘office’ undertaken by men only is for instance evidenced in Acts 6:1-6 where the apostles commissioned 7 men to the role by the laying on of hands.


The position of priest does not exist in the New Testament paradigm in terms of Church leadership.


Lastly, the title of ‘Reverend’ is not permitted to be used. It is not a biblical position or role and certainly church leaders cannot be assigning such a title or description to themselves.

The word ‘revere’ within Reverend relates to God Himself. In fact, there are very few Bible translations that even contain the word like for instance the KJV mentions it only once and it is attributed to God in that instance (Psa 111:9). It should be said that it is a serious offence against God to be using a word that is specifically attributed to Him only which includes facilitating others in using the word in addressing another person.

Concluding comments

Finally, the biblical positions above and qualifications for them are established upon the order in which God has created humanity (1 Tim 2:13). That is, male first then female. Thus, there is the essential need for all believers to represent this headship in God in the Church and in the home in order to avoid sinning against God.

This also goes for a person that supports another person who is engaging in a role that is not scriptural, or is for a male only in respect to the New Testament age. In this case, this means that the supporting persons are acting in defiance of God’s Word and clear prohibitions and therefore they are sinning against God and supporting the sin of the principle person and others involved.

(Part 2 of 2 article below)

Can Women ‘Speak’ In Church? A Very Brief Observation – Part 2 of 2

Some believers think that women should not or cannot speak in church beyond singing or worshipping God, or even at all. I do not believe this is biblical. The reasoning used by those against women speaking in church is mainly found in 1 Corinthians 14:34 and 1 Timothy 2:12.

1 Corinthians 14:34 states, “women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak but must be in submission, as the Law says”.

Firstly, to put things in some context, 1 Corinthians 11 reveals that women are instructed to be “covered” when praying or prophesying. Does this mean that prayers by women will only take place in non-church settings? Of course not.

This is obviously because praying is a common practice that is done both privately and corporately and is for the benefit of the church as a whole and others. Prophesying is a gift of the Holy Spirit that is evidently not limited to men and thus God does not preclude His inspired words from being spoken by women in a church setting.

After all, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 14:26 that the people of God come together and may conduct themselves, among other things, in prophesying. On this note, importantly, this verse also mentions that the corporate church setting would function as a place where the believers would communicate a hymn, a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation of tongues. Will men only do this? Of course not. Are these not ‘speaking’ functions? Of course.

Thus,  the disallowance from ‘speaking’ in 1 Corinthians 14:34 is not referring to the common God-inspired communications like the abovementioned in verse 26. Rather, it is speaking of the command for women to submit to the authority of man given by God in 1 Corinthians 11 and 1 Timothy 2:11 where in the latter women are to learn in quietness. This means that a woman should not communicate or ask about other things as such would conflict with the exercising of church authority and practice which would hinder God’s way and model of ‘conducting’ gatherings from being exalted. Therefore, that, such things should be communicated to a woman’s husband outside of the church setting or to another trusted person if she does not have a husband (1 Cor 14:35).

Relevantly, in further context, 1 Timothy 2:12 reveals that women are prevented from teaching and having authority over men. So, in this respect, it is clear that women cannot be pastors or operate in the five-fold ministry except in the prophet’s role though as prophetesses they are not allowed to teach due to the prohibition on women teachers in 1 Timothy 2:12.

Thus, the prohibition from ‘speaking’ in 1st Corinthians 14:34 also refers to the preclusion against engaging in these functions above. In saying so, however, it does not prevent women from training other women and children irrespective of gender. Though, this is to be done under the instruction and authority of men as found in Titus 2:3-5. In these verses, Paul instructs Titus that he is to teach the older women to be morally upright so that they would train the younger women to love their husbands and children. This makes it clear that the Bible prohibits women from teaching doctrine and other biblically related subjects, as it is the domain of the male only.

Thus, to conclude, 1 Corinthians chapters 14 and 11 reveal that women can pray, prophesy, sing, speak a word of instruction or revelation, speak in and interpret tongues, all within the church setting. God did not intend that women cannot speak in church beyond singing or worshipping or at all.