"We believe that at salvation the Holy Spirit imparts at least one spiritual gift to every believer for the purpose of edifying and equipping the body of Messiah. We believe that God sovereignly distributes Spiritual Gifts to believers and so giving undue emphasis to any one particular gift can be divisive."
The one part of the Statement that we have not yet covered is: "giving undue emphasis to any one particular gift can be divisive." We will begin with that, and then address other important considerations.
Paul makes this very clear in 1 Corinthians 12:12-25:
12. For even as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 14. For the body is not one member, but many. 15. If the foot says, "Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body," it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 16. And if the ear says, "Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body," it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 17. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18. But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. 19. If they were all one member, where would the body be? 20. But now there are many members, but one body. 21. And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; or again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." 22. On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; 23. and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, 24. whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 25. so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.
Paul identifies two causes of division here:
1. The Problem of Pride In verse 21, he identifies the outlook of one who, because he possesses a certain gift, thinks he is more valuable to the body than another with a different gift. Perhaps the evangelist feels that he is of greater value than the one with the gift of service. After all, he, the evangelist, is not the lowly fix-it man who struggles with the plumbing. He's the guy who leads the multitudes to Messiah.
The evangelist is not rendering due honor to the one who fixes the toilet he uses after his glorious performance. It is for this very reason that Paul cautioned, also in the context of the gifts, For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith (Romans 12:3).
Paul's solution to this pitfall of pride is found in verses 22 though 25: the members who seem to be weaker are necessary. In fact, they receive more personalized care because they are in greater need of it. It seems that he is referring to the fact that those parts of our physical bodies that are least presentable are honored by being clothed, whereas those parts of our bodies that are more presentable, such as our faces and hands, are not so honored.
2. The Problem of Low Self-Worth In verses 15 and 16, Paul addresses a cause of division found at the opposite pole, the outlook of one who deems himself of less value than another who has a different gift. The one with the gift of service may deem himself of lesser worth than one with the gift of evangelism. After all, the evangelist is always leading people to Messiah and basks in the applause of the crowds, whereas he is hidden away in the bathroom struggling with the plumbing. Jealousy and resentment are the fruits of this outlook.
Paul's solution to this pitfall is found in verses 15 though 18 and 22 though 25: the body requires a variety of members, and the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary (verse 22). Indeed, all parts of the body are essential to its completeness and function: 19. If they were all one member, where would the body be? 20. But now there are many members, but one body.
3. "They Should Be Like Me" There is another pitfall, the tendency that some have to think that everyone should be like them. Some with the gift of evangelism would have people think that that they should never leave a supermarket without preaching the Gospel to everyone inside. Some teachers give the impression that everyone should to be a Bible scholar. Some with the gift of mercy cannot understand why others wouldn't pull off the highway to pray for someone's hangnail. It behooves us to remember that, whereas we are all called to minister in various capacities at various times, the great burden and responsibility for each gift holder is the development and use of his or her particular gift. We must not judge or put an undue burden on one another for not carrying the same particular burden of ministry that we do, or for not being as effective as we are in its exercise. Romans 12:6:
Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, [each of us is to exercise them accordingly]....
Summary Inasmuch as it is God who moves each gift from Source to receiver to result; that God is not one to show partiality (Acts 10:34); and that God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7), let us remember: when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding (2 Corinthians 10:12). Whether our profile in ministry is high or low or of greater or lesser authority, or whether we receive greater or lesser honor from men, we will avoid being divisive by adhering to these principles and admonitions, and thereby purify of our own service unto the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love (Ephesians 4:16). Between 1 Corinthians 12 and 14, chapters on the gifts, Paul inserted chapter 13 in which he implores the use of the gifts in love, concluding, But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love (13:13). Love is the very root of the gifts, as God is love (1 John 4:8,16), and ought to be the fruit of the gifts, as well (Galatians 5:22-23).
Introduction Some deny that a particular gift is in use today because they have never seen it in genuine action. Some assume a gift is in use because it was in use in the first century or because they want it to be. None of these reasons is valid.
In answering the question, the following principle will be used: unless Scripture makes it absolutely clear that a gift cannot or will not be given today, it will be assumed that the Spirit may give the gift today - may, not does.
It has been shown in section II F of
the first increment of this study that each use of a gift at any time during the Church Age benefits the entire body from Pentecost to the Rapture. Therefore, a gift used in the critical, foundational first century benefits all future generations of the body, and may therefore not be given beyond the first century. Also, without a doubt, one of the two foundational gifts (Ephesians 2:20), the most versatile and power laden of all gifts, is no longer given, as will be shown. It cannot therefore be automatically assumed that any other single gift is given today, especially one from among those that can most readily be seen as supernatural in origin.
We will first determine which gifts may be given today, and then review various tests that need to be applied to each ostensible use of one of those gifts to determine whether the professed use is genuine or spurious. In this consideration it is especially important to study the individual gifts in
Part 1 and
Those gifts that can most readily be seen as supernatural in origin require special consideration because of unjustified acceptance or rejection, or because of widespread abuse or misuse.
1. Apostleship No one beyond the first century could see the resurrected Lord with their natural eyes, and those who did see Him are long gone. Therefore, there can be no question that the gift of apostleship is not given today, and even the most gifted of church planters or founders of other great works must not be called apostles.
For the same reason, there can be no apostolic
succession today. Even when the apostles were alive they did not arrange
for apostles to succeed them. In every case in Scripture in which an
apostle was chosen, he was chosen directly by the Lord. In addition, the
Lord saw fit to record how Paul spelled out the qualifications for the
selection of church elders (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). If He
intended for there to be successor apostles, who would be superior in
authority to church elders, He may very well have had their qualifications recorded, as well; but He did not.
2. Prophecy The prophetic gift was used in the first century for the carrying out of various ministries. Each of these needs to be considered individually.
19. God's household, 20. having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21. in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, 22. in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
~ Ephesians 2:19-22
Three things must be noted: 1. Paul is not saying that the apostles and prophets were used for the founding of local churches, but of the whole building, the universal body of believers; 2. Prophets are tied right in with apostles as being layers of the foundation of the whole building; and 3. The gift of apostleship is not given today. Therefore, prophecy is no longer needed for the founding of the body as those foundations were laid by the end of the first century.
2) The Founding of Local Churches
At least some first century churches were formed as a result of prophetic preaching and teaching (Acts 2:14-47; 13:13-52). However, no passage states or implies that a prophet is required for the founding of a local
church. Indeed, multitudes of true, evangelical and evangelistic churches are in existence today that had no prophet in their foundations.
But may they be
used for that purpose in certain instances? God may certainly choose to,
and no passage can prove that He may not. However, we must keep in mind
that prophets were essential to the formation of the early church for
the purpose of identifying the Messiah. Today, we have the written Word
and the Word-based ministries of evangelists, teachers, and believers in
general. Nevertheless, God may choose to reveal His Son through a
prophetic dream or vision, particularly in places where the Word has
never penetrated, and thereby plant the seed for a local church.
18. I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book; 19. and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away from his part in the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.
The book of this prophecy is the Book of Revelation; but it is not insignificant that these words appear at the very end of Bible, which, in its totality, is a prophetic word inasmuch as God supervised the writing of it (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21). The canon of Scripture is closed. Prophecy is no longer employed for the creation of Scripture.
4) Other Purposes Scripture indicates that multiple prophecies were given that were not for the founding of the body or local
churchs or the creation of Scripture. Such were the multiple prophecies permitted in the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians 14:29-32), and possibly those of Phillip's daughters (Acts 21:8-9). There is no biblical reason to assume that such prophecy may not be given today. Why can't a warning of disaster akin to Agabus' prophecy of impending famine (Acts 11:28) be given, or an informative word to a missionary akin to that given by Agabus to Paul (Acts 21:10-11)? No passage of Scripture closes that door.
Summary Prophecy is no longer employed by the Lord for the founding of the universal body of Messiah or the creation of Scripture. However, Scripture does not close the door to the possibility that God may employ prophecy for other purposes.
4. Healings and Miracles Some say that gifts of healings and workings of miracles are not current because they were signs of the apostles and the apostolic ministry has ended; but healings and miracles were given to some who were not apostles. In 1 Corinthians 12:28, apostleship, healings and miracles are listed as separate gifts: And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings.... Ananias was not an apostle, and he healed Saul of his blindness (Acts 9:17-18).
A Major Objection 1 Corinthians 13:8-10: 8. Love never fails; but if prophecy, they will be done away; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be done away. 9. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10. but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.
Some hold that the perfect refers to the completed canon of Scripture. Therefore, prophecy, tongues and certain other gifts are no longer given. If that's the case, then the gift of knowledge is no longer given, as that's mentioned also. Are we to believe that God gave us the Scriptures, but did not gift some to see especially clearly what it says? Of course not! In pages 30-31 of Gifts of the Holy Spirit (available at Ariel Ministries), Dr. Fruchtenbaum maintains that grammatical and contextual considerations indicate that the perfect must refer to the completed body of Messiah at the Rapture. The gift of knowledge is needed until then, and the passage ties it in with prophecy and tongues.
The verse cannot be used to eliminate the possibility of any gift being given today, but it does prove that at least part of the partial, the gifts, is still being given.
Summary Apostleship is the only open and closed case of a gift not being given today. Whether or not the professed use of any other gift is genuine must be determined in each case by biblical tests.
Human claims and testimonies are subject to error in memory, wishful thinking and exaggeration, and are, at times, complete fabrications. They must therefore be taken with a grain of salt until they are proven to the satisfaction of unbiased and skilled scrutiny.
a. Objective Evidence Does the person exhibit the characteristics of one who has the gift? If one who exhorts puts people to sleep rather than stirring them to action, then he does not have the gift of exhortation. If one has a very poor success rate in leading people to Messiah, he is not an evangelist.If one who claims to speak in tongues is fluent only in gibberish, then that person does not have the gift of tongues. And so on.
b. Discerning the Spirit of the Gift
Those who have the gift of discerning spirits can tell whether or not
one is using a gift in the Holy Spirit or a demonic spirit. Church elders should identify such people and put them to work. Others need to test the spirits.
c. Testing the Spirits A person may have a gift and yet use it in the wrong spirit, or he may not have a gift and profess to be using it. We may test the spirits (1 John 4:1) to determine whether or not a gift is used in the Holy Spirit or a demonic spirit. This has more than one aspect.
1) 1 Corinthians 12:3: Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus is accursed"; and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit.
If, while professedly using a gift, one confesses the deity of Yeshua, then that confession is of the Spirit. If one declares, Jesus is accursed, then that confession is diabolic.
2) 1 John 4:1-3:
1. Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3. and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.
If, while using a gift, one confesses that Yeshua of Nazareth is the Messiah and has come bodily, then that confession is of the Spirit. If the person denies it or refuses to confess it, that person is operating in a demonic spirit.
To sum up, if one confesses both the deity and the humanity of Yeshua, then that confession is of God. If he denies either, or declares that Jesus is accursed, then the confession is of a demonic nature.
11. The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 12. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.
These Berean Jews tested the word that they heard against the written Word, an example we all ought to follow. If the word heard contradicts Scripture, throw it out. If it is consistent with Scripture, receive it. However, the spirit in which a true word is delivered also needs to be tested by one of the above methods. The slave-girl in Thyatira spoke truth, yet her motive was demonic. Paul recognized the spirit of divination in her, and cast it out of her (Acts 16:16-18).
3. Testing Prophecy in Particular a. Introduction In Matthew 7:15-16, Jesus said, 15. Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16. You will know them by their fruits. (See also 2 Peter 2:1.)
There are a plethora of false prophets and prophecies, both inside and outside of churches. Some such prophets are sincere but mistaken, and others are bold-faced deceivers. What they have in common is false prophecy, and all false prophecy is dangerous. Lives have been uprooted and heretical cults have arisen on the basis of false prophecies. One must be exceedingly careful before receiving or giving a prophecy.
b. Two Tests Scripture names two tests that are specific to prophecy.
1) The Fruit Yeshua said, You will know them by their fruits (Matthew 7:16).
The fruits or deeds or of the flesh
are named in Galatians 5:19-21:
19. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20. idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21. envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these.
If one's prophecy bears the fruit of things like these, it is a false prophecy.
2) The Mosaic Test As was shown, no passage of Scripture indicates that the nature of prophecy changed from the Old Testament to the New. Therefore, the Mosaic test of a prophet is as valid today as is was in Mosaic times.
20. But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die21. You may say in your heart, "How will we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?" 22. When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.
One who claims to be a prophet needs to prophesy a near future event that cannot be determined by natural means, and is quite improbable. To pass the test, the prophecy must come to pass in every detail.
Agabus passed such a test.
27. Now at this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28. One of them named Agabus stood up and began to indicate by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great famine all over the world. And this took place in the reign of Claudius.
Matthew Henry writes, "Several of the Roman historians make mention of it, as does also Josephus" (Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible). This is the kind of proof that affirms a true prophet! Because Agabus had thus proved his credibility, when he prophesied the precise manner in which the Jerusalem Jews would arrest Paul and deliver him to the Gentiles, Paul and the brethren took him seriously (Acts 21:10-14).
The New Testament does not carry forward the injunction to execute a false prophet. Nevertheless, false prophecy was treated very seriously in apostolic days. In Acts 13:8-11, Paul struck the false prophet Elymas with blindness. However, ...
c. Not "Everybody Must Get Stoned" Bob Dylan's refrain
in his song by the same title was never meant as a prescription for all prophets who err. Nathan spoke erroneously in the name of the LORD, and the LORD did not even issue a rebuke; He simply told him the correct words to speak (2 Samuel 7:1-7, 12-14; 1 Chronicles 17:1-6).
The difference between Elymas and Nathan? Nathan's heart was right with the LORD, but Elymas acted presumptuously, the word used in Deuteronomy 18:20. Brown-Driver-Briggs' Hebrew Definitions gives the meaning of the Hebrew: "to boil, boil up, seethe, act proudly, act presumptuously, act rebelliously, be presumptuous, be arrogant, be rebelliously proud." Paul's words to Elymas show that this was true of him. Acts 13:10: You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness.... Elymas was a son of the devil (unregenerate), full of all deceit and fraud, and opposed Paul and Barnabas' witness to Sergius Paulus.
So, let's not be too quick to drag each other to the stone yard for a mistake, or we'll all be stoning each other to death! On the other hand, let all would-be prophets note the gravity of prophesying falsely in the eyes of the Lord and the potential for damage in the lives of people.
I have agonized for a great many hours over the relevant passages, taking great pains to not add to, subtract from, or misinterpret, the intended meaning of the writer, nor to restrict or place a burden on you that is not of God. I have resisted taking my cues from what seems reasonable, from widespread and accepted practice, and from the fruitful ministries of gifted women - in short, from the path of least resistance - but from the Word of God only; and so must we all. As with all studies, we need to approach this one with the confidence that God knows best and be ready to walk out the results, even to the crucifying our flesh (Romans 12:1, 8:13; Galatians 5:24; Colossians 3:5). Proverbs 3:5-6: 5. Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. 6. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.
In section III B of
The Local Church,
I present many more scriptures than appear below to show that the
following and similar injunctions are not based on temporal situational
or cultural reasons, but on timeless theological truths, and therefore
apply in all churches throughout the Church Age. Please give section III B of
The Local Churcha thorough and unbiased study, and then proceed below - cross, nails and hammer at the ready.
1. Restrictions All of the gifts that the Spirit may distribute today He may distribute to women. However, Scripture does place restrictions on women in the use of some of the gifts that He does not place on men. Scripture also shows many ways that women may serve in their gifts, and I will show these.
Scripture restricts women in three concentric circles
of church ministry. From the inside out, they are: the pastorate, teaching, and speaking in general. From the outside in, speaking includes teaching, teaching may take place apart from a pastorate, and a pastorate must include teaching. We will address these realms from the outside in.
a. Speaking in General 1 Corinthians 14 focuses on the proper exercise of speaking gifts for the ministry of the Word when the whole church assembles together (v. 23).
34. The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. 35. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.
Some say that the injunction to silence applies only to married women and/or only in those cultures in which women are expected to restrain themselves thusly. However, please note:
1. Women are referred to categorically in verses 34 and 35, meaning all women. Paul did not say, wives are to keep silent, but women.
2. The tenor of the Law (the Pentateuch) is the expected and rightful general deferment of women to men (1 Peter 3:5-6. Cf. 1 Corinthians 11:3,7-9; Ephesians 5:22-27; 1 Timothy 2:13-14). In the context of spiritual leadership, it is noteworthy that the Levitical priesthood was for men only.
3. If the injunction were culturally based, why would Paul refer to the Law, whose relevance in this context is equal across the board among all
churches throughout the Church Age?
4. Paul singles out women in this and similar passages, and places no such restrictions on men. If, in the Corinthian case, the problem was merely wives asking questions of their husbands, why did Paul address only the wives, and not admonish the husbands to not answer them?
The injunction to silence applies to all women when the whole church assembles together (v. 23) for the ministry of the Word.
All absolutely unnecessary speaking is prohibited.
11. A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. 12. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.
But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.
Paul is instructing Timothy in his pastoral responsibilities. Therefore, at the very least the injunction to silence applies in all meetings under Timothy's authority. Women may not give biblical instruction to men in any meeting authorized by a church's eldership, but are to remain quiet. This includes the worship service, Bible classes, home Bible studies and the like. She may not even teach men off the cuff during business meetings.
Why not? Notice how, in verse 11, receiving instruction is paired with submissiveness, and in verse 12, teachingis paired with exercising authority. Teaching Scripture is an exercise of spiritual authority, and Paul teaches that a woman may not exercise spiritual authority over a man in any meeting for which a pastor is ultimately responsible. Why not? Verse 13 gives one reason, and verse 14 another: 13. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. Note that the reasons given are not at all cultural or situational, but theological, and they apply in all churches everywhere. Notice also that verses 11 and 12 broaden the scope of meetings at which silence is enjoined beyond the worship service context of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35.
c. The Pastorate I have shown in section III B of
The Local Church that women are not permitted to serve in the office of pastor. Biblically, that refers to any elder.
d. A Common Objection
Some point to 1 Corinthians 11:5 to show that Paul did not object to
women speaking in the meeting of the church as he raised no objection to it here:But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved. But consider:
1. From verses 3 through 13, Paul was dealing solely with the matter of head covering, and it is normal for people to deal with only one issue at a time; and
2. He addressed the matter of speaking in the meeting of the church directly in 1 Timothy 2:12 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, and that's where we need to get our instruction from.
e. Exception The only exception that I see is if a woman leads men to the Lord, even in mass evangelism meetings, and begins to disciple them. This is suggested in the case of Priscilla (Acts 18:26),
quoted below. However, she must transfer all discipleship and pastoral
responsibilities to men in good standing with a local church as soon as she is able. 2. Liberties in the
Meeting of the Church
a. Singing and Praying Aloud The injunction to silence in both passages is in reference to speaking to men. Singing is not speaking, and praying is speaking to God. Therefore, I do not see the passages forbidding either as long as they are not used for the purpose of teaching or exhorting when men are present.
b. Non-Speaking Gifts
In all church meetings no matter what their nature, women may use their non-speaking gifts to the same extent that men may.
3. Liberties in the Believing Community In the believing community at large, women may exercise all gifts, even leadership and speaking gifts, among women, children, and non-adult males, as is brought out by a number of examples immediately following. They may also serve as leaders of youth and women's groups, principals of Christian schools, and the like.
However, the key question at hand is, may they exercise their speaking
and leadership gifts among men in the context of the ministry of the
Word? I do not see that Scripture is explicit in this matter. Therefore,
I would say that, if they are ministering to brand new believing men, as
in the case of Priscilla, or to believing men who are not connected to a
local church - fine, so long as there is genuine effort to transfer such
responsibilities to men approved by a local church lest the woman find herself entrenched in the position of a de facto pastor over men.
Tabitha... was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did (Acts 9:36).
Lydia provided a place in her home for Paul, Timothy and Luke. (Acts 16:1-15)
Evidently, Eunice and her mother Lois trained Eunice's son Timothy in the knowledge of the Scriptures. (Acts 16:1; 2 Timothy 1:5, 3:15)
Priscilla (named first) and her husband Aquila took [Apollos] aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately (Acts 18:26). This was a situation in which Apollos, being acquainted only with the baptism of John (verse 25), preached Jesus, but did not know of His death, burial and resurrection.
Philip's four daughters were prophetesses (Acts 21:9).
[Phoebe] herself has also been a helper of many, and of myself as well (Romans 16:2).
Phoebe may have been a deaconess in the church at Rome (16:1). If
this was the case - and it is unclear whether there were formally
recognized deaconesses - then it must be understood that,
biblically, deacons were the servants of the elders, and did not
function as so-called deacons do in many churches today, as elders.
Tryphena, Tryphosa and Persis were workers in the Lord. (Romans 16:12)
Euodia and Syntyche shared [Paul's] struggle in the cause of the gospel. (Philippians 4:2-3)
Older women are to instruct younger women in proper conduct and family matters (Titus 2:3-5).
The chosen lady of 2 John 1 was either the discipler of her literal children orher children in ministry; it is not clear which.Whichever the case, she had John's blessing. If the former, then she exercised her pastoral gift as a mother. If the latter, then she must have abided by the restrictions that Paul laid down some three decades earlier.
Except for singing and praying, women must remain silent in all
authorized meetings for the ministry of the Word at which a man is a
participant. If a woman leads or teaches at a meeting for the ministry
of the Word that is not under the auspices of a local church and at which a man is a participant, she is still exercis[ing] authority over a man, and she may not do that. She must keep silent except in transitional evangelistic or missionary-like situations. In secular realms and capacities, women are free to lead, teach and exhort at will.
Programs need to be established for the maturation of the saints in the use of their gifts. All training must include study of the relevant Scriptures, and mentoring in many cases. Those with speaking gifts should be provided rigorous training in the Scriptures.
Scripture places much emphasis on the teaching and preaching of the Word (1 Timothy 1:3, 5; 4:11; 6:2, 17). However, worship services are not meant to be monopolized by one man or a pre-selected group. Ample time needs to be provided for the exercise of the speaking gift - no Ph.D. required - not even an elementary school education! Neither should the service be allowed to proceed in a lawless manner: all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner (1 Corinthians 14:40), and there are more rules for the conduct of the gifts than I have addressed (Cf. 1 Corinthians 14). 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21 sums it up: 19. Do not quench the Spirit; 20. do not despise prophetic utterances, 21. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.
Transitioning to biblically ordained parameters may prove stormy and people may even leave your church, but the transition needs to be made.