|Sons to Glory book by Paul Jablonowski||
Part 2 - Acting Like Mature Sons - Apostles
Are There Women Apostles Today?
For years I held the view that God did not call women as apostles. I've read many books and articles on both sides of the spectrum of this issue. However, my thinking has now changed as I've waited on the Holy Spirit to give me His view of women in ministry. Does God call women into the equipping roles of an apostle, prophet, evangelist and pastor/teacher? The short answer is YES, and this article contains some of the Scriptural reasons why.
Since today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, it seems appropriate at this time to write an article that contributes to the cause of liberating women to function in their God given gifts and callings. It is a shame that most of the civil liberties movements in America have come from outside of the institutional church. We should be leading the way in liberating all people but instead we often find ourselves fighting against what God is doing based on our wrong ways of thinking. The Pharisees had the greatest knowledge of the Scriptures but rejected the Word Himself when He came to them because Jesus didn't meet their expectations. Likewise, much of the Church is rejecting women in equipping roles because of the traditions of men which make God's word of no effect. (Mark 7:13)
A spiritual "stronghold" is a wrong pattern of thought, and these patterns of thought are often instilled in us from the evil in our culture. By definition according to Webster's dictionary "culture" is an "integrated pattern of thought, speech and action." The Islamic culture is very oppressive towards women in leadership roles and hence this attitude is infused into Islamic people from childhood. These patterns of thought do not die easily which is why Ephesians 6:12 says that we "wrestle" with these strongholds. Such mindsets are not cast out like demons, rather they must be "wrestled" with and taken down through much prayer and intercession and patience.
But there is a DIVINE CULTURE where the Mind of Christ prevails. While this divine culture has not yet been physically established in the earth, it is steadily being established in the hearts of God's people who seek the Lord with all their heart, mind, and soul and love not their lives even unto death (Rev. 12:10,11). This "divine culture" was the established "pattern of thought, speech and action" in the garden of Eden before mankind disobeyed and fell into sin. A "pure language" (Zeph. 3:9) will be restored during the millennium which will help in this divine culture.19
It was a result of mankind's sin that women were given a subservient role to man in marriage, and this is only in a marriage relationship, not every woman to every man. Notice what God said would happen to woman due to their sin in Genesis 3:16- "I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception, in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." But before the fall Adam did not "rule over" Eve because they walked in perfect love and harmony with each other. Likewise, as this "divine culture" becomes more and more established in the earth by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can expect to start seeing these results of sin reversed back to the garden paradise unity where husband and wife walk as one.
The Scriptures call both Miriam and Deborah a "prophetess" (Exodus 15:20, Judges 4:4). The Lord spoke to Miriam, Aaron and Moses as a threesome in the tabernacle (Numbers 12:4, Micah 6:4), and Deborah was a judge in Israel which is one of the functions of an apostle. So the precedent for women in leadership roles is firmly established in the Scriptures even within a culture where women were considered "second class." Also, Lydia in Acts 16 was a woman leader of her home church, and Aquilla and Priscilla were a husband wife team that functioned as co-leaders at their local church (1 Cor. 16:19).
Jesus had a habit of appearing to women first, such as after His resurrection to Mary and to the woman at the well at the beginning of His ministry. The Virgin Mary set a precedent by being a woman given the revelation of the miraculous to take place in her own body. A revelation which was to be taken to the whole world. If Christ entrusted a woman to bear such an important message for Him, wouldn't they be considered "apostles" in the definition of apostle as a "sent messenger"? If not in the office, they were certainly walking apostolically with a message for the church; i.e., the Holy Ghost has made me pregnant, or "there is a man who told me all things I have done", or "He is risen". So God has sent and still does send women apostolically today with messages for various segments of the Church or world.
So what about all of the Scriptures where Paul tells women to be silent in church and to wear head coverings etc.? The answer to these questions can be summed up in one word - CULTURE. The advice that Paul was giving the first century church was the exact word they needed to hear in the culture in which they lived. While the words and principles of Paul's writings are divine, the culture in which he lived was not, and this cultural context must be taken into account in order to properly interpret the Spirit behind the words of Paul in Scripture. For example, in Corinth and Ephesus, Paul was combating the Gnostic teaching that woman was superior to man where they actually worshiped a woman goddess (Diana). So telling women to be quiet and submissive is what these particular churches needed to hear.
Slavery was also normal in first century culture, so both Paul and Peter admonished Christians to submit to their masters in their Scriptural letters (1 Peter 2:18, Titus 2:9, Col. 3:22). However, I know that Peter and Paul would rejoice today that much of slavery has been abolished bringing more of God's divine order to the kingdoms of this world. The attitude that man is superior to woman in leadership is just another form of slavery, and a mental roadblock that must be overcome.
In these situations above, Paul and Peter were speaking a "rhema" word into the early church, not a "logos" word. "Rhema" and "logos" are different Greek words for "word" referring to the Scriptures. The law and the prophets in the Old Testament word (logos) "prophesied until John." Now, we have the Holy Spirit living in us which can speak the word of God into specific situations (rhema) but they shouldn't be taken out of context to prove our culturally biased preconceived notions regarding women. One example is Matthew 10:5 where Jesus told his disciples NOT to go minister to the Gentiles but only to go to those in Israel. Well, a short twenty years later Paul was going to the Gentiles to preach the gospel and doing exactly what Jesus said NOT to do. Jesus was speaking a timely rhema word that did apply to His disciples but did not apply to Paul a few decades later.
When God sent His only son Jesus into this world, He limited Himself to human standards and that included submitting Himself to the culture into which He was born. Therefore, it was wisdom on the part of the Jesus not to choose women among the twelve original apostles because it would have detracted from the purpose for which He had come - which was to establish the Kingdom. Jesus was meeting people where they were, and He did not force the kingdom, but trusted His Father to do the work through Him in due time. So he had no problem working within the cultural parameters and yet still being the perfect SEED for the Kingdom of God. But where the Kingdom of God is fully MATURE and a divine culture is established, there is no bias between male and female, rather we "are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:26-28)
There is a saying: "A man with a theology is always at the mercy of a man with an experience." While my theology used to make me think that God did not anoint women to be in "equipping" leadership roles such as apostle, my experience has been that God has used many women to "equip" me in my own life. Cindye Coates is one such lady and scholar who has an excellent writing on this topic called, "The Sonship of Woman."20 I know there are thousands of women apostles in the body of Christ, and my prayer is that they will be set free to function in the gifts God has given them and rise up as a mighty army in our generation to proclaim God's word - "The Lord giveth the word: The women that publish the tidings are a great host" (Psalms 68:11 ASV ).
I hope this brief chapter helps to show that God DOES give equipping gifts to women in the body of Christ. We would be wise to start acknowledging this truth and helping our sisters to function in their callings rather than fighting against God like the Pharisees.21