What about Anna?

If we read carefully Luke chapter 2, woman by the name of Anna is a prophetess. She continued to speak/declare (the word laleo) to those who were searching for the Messiah. Laleo means to declare one's mind and disclose thoughts.

God considered Anna the perfect person to teach about His Son in the Temple. Yes, I know. The actual word for Teacher isn't there. However, consider what that word didasko actually means.

1. a to hold discourse with others in order to instruct them. b intended to convey instruction and information as well as pleasure and entertainment; making moral observations. It also means to d. explain or expound a thing.

So when Anna continued to speak of Jesus to those who were searching for the Messiah...she was teaching. And she was teaching in the Temple supposedly a "man's domain" considering the Women's Court. However, women actually sacrificed their own offerings to the Lord. Also, this is where she lived for 84 years before Jesus was born. She was not a Levite woman, who were provided for by the sacrifices and offerings. She was of the tribe of Asher. She did devote her entire life to worship, fasting and praying.

What does this tell us? This tells us that God uses willing, devoted vessels for His good purposes. It matters not whether the vessel is man or woman. Both a man and a woman prophesied over Jesus. We don't have to go any further than this one example because it presents a supposed contradiction, does it not?

This leaves us with a seeming inconsistency in Scripture, if we point to 1 Timothy 2:12 as a blanket rule concerning women teachers. Let's see...Anna was willingly devoted to the Lord God. She was submissive to Him and spoke because of the Holy Spirit within her, otherwise, she would not have been a prophetess. (That's what that word means, btw, a female that speaks the word of God.)

Then we look at Titus 2:4 3 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things-- . Then we turn to 1 Cor 14. vs 31 says "you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged." He doesn't say "only you men can prophesy". Paul instructs them in vs 34 that the women are to keep silent. The whole chapter is about order in worship...and vs 33 is the famous verse that God is not the author of chaos. The context around this verse is about prophecy! But in vs 19 Paul says he'd rather speak 5 words with his own understanding than 10,000 words in a tongue. This church was having a "free-for-all" chaotic worship service which was not reverential nor godly in nature. Paul admonishes that women should be silent in church and then the next verse 35 says "If she wants to learn something, let her ask her husband." Doesn't that imply questions are being asked? Not women preaching, but desiring to learn?

Then we have the 1 Timothy 2 passage has a phrase that hasn't been addressed here. Paul commands, "Let a woman learn in silence." And back over in 1 Cor 14:31 he talks about all learning. That includes men, too. Men don't just fall out of the womb knowing everything there is to know (although some men sure act that way). Mommas have to teach their sons.

The fact that Paul allowed Pricilla to teach... The fact that he admonished older women to "teach good things"... The fact of Anna teaching in the Temple about Jesus the Messiah... clearly indicates that women should learn as much as they can and when called by God or given the motivational Spiritual gift to teach should willingly do God's bidding to teach. We do not all have the same gifts in the same measure.

I do not see any examples of women pastors. I do not see any examples of women in authority or domineering over men within a church in Scripture. In the ideal, it is men and women working side by side. I do see an example of a domineering woman--Jezabel and we all know what happened to her and should take a lesson and learn something from that.

Biblically, there is substance to women teachers and even teaching in Sunday School. Because of this, and because the Bible does not contradict itself, then there must be a reconciliation. The Holy Spirit does give the gift of teaching to women and gives the Spiritual gift of ministry of teaching to women and the motivational gift of organization/administration. Look at Beth Moore, for crying out loud. But women pastors? No.

The very first set of seven Servers were all men. The Apostles said they could not take time to serve tables (which means to do exactly as it says but also to count money). So they were lending all their time to study and teaching/preaching, Acts 6:2ff. Why men and no women? This was Jerusalem, not Corinth or Ephesus or Rome. The women here knew much of Scripture because they were taught in synagogue and at home. I must point back to Proverbs 31. Our Spiritual place is supporting our husbands and our children. That is how God designed us. That, in no way, means that God won’t use women in Spiritual leadership roles. He gives ample evidence of it in Scripture. He gives ample evidence of it today. This is a seeming paradox until we recognize the diversity of snowflakes. No two are exactly the same and neither are any two humans, regardless of gender. God relates to each of us in the exact manner needed to reach us and if that mean using a toad frog, He will do it. (No, I am not comparing women to toads... well, maybe I am comparing, but I mean no disrespect.)

How many women out there who have children actually have time to devote to a whole church full of people to the extent expected of pastors? If there are three children or more in a family that is equivalent to two full time jobs. It is not fair to her family nor to the church for a mother to be a pastor. Again Proverbs 31. But she absolutely can devote the time needed for family and studying to teach. I see a pastor as a servant of God dedicated to shepherding His flock; his time is not all his own or his family's. I see teaching encompassing preaching as well as Sunday School and Discipleship training and mentoring, in short Discipling. But, we must consider ramifications of one-on-one. Here is a crucial point: we should never put ourselves in a postion that could appear evil. You know exactly what I mean by this. One-on-one situations between men and women are risky undertakings and that's all I'll say on that for the moment.

The very first verse that puts women in their "place" is when she is created from Adam's rib. And then verse 16 of chapter 3 in Genesis. "You shall be eager for your husband and he shall rule over you." Why is it so many people forget this verse? Plain and simple. The husband is the ruler over the wife, period--God said it, not me. That was in Adam's day. As the years rolled by ... centuries later, God directed Paul to add three words to that verse. "...in the Lord." Because we women are first Christians and then wives. We belong first to Jesus as our betrothed husband and then to our physical husbands so our obedience should first be to the Lord and then to our husbands. Does anyone have a problem with this logic?

We must not assume the 1 Timothy 2:12 is a blanket rule or a stone wall against women teaching men or having any Spiritual leadership role. Because of Anna and so many others. A friend of mine, Joanne Flynn said:

Philip's four daughters were active prophetesses in the early church. I would love for someone to tell me how a woman prophesies without breaking her silence, and how it would be profitable if a man is not to learn from it (there is no biblical pattern for a prophet to women and another to men, I double-dog dare you to find it!) Please see Acts 21 for this reference. The prophesying of women in the church was not only happening in Acts, it was predicted by Peter (Acts 2) and prophesied by Joel. If this is evil, why isn't it depicted as such?
Another friend commented about Martha and Mary. It is an extremely good contrast. Tomorrow we’ll talk about them.
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