It seems that that 1Timothy 2:12-14 (NASB) says that women shouldn't be pastors. But there are many denominations that allow this.

1 Timothy 2:12-14 (NASB)
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.

This idea also seems supported by the command that women should remain silent in church (1 Corinthians 14:34-35).

What is the biblical basis for allowing women to preach or be a pastor? Specifically, what is the biblical basis of the doctrine of ordination of women? Also, how do the followers of this doctrine reconcile their beliefs with that of 1 Timothy and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 above?

  • 7
    This question could be clarified by defining the difference between the act of preaching, being a pastor and holding an office in the priesthood. I do not believe that pastor is a priesthood position, but a title for the person who manages a church branch. I am not even sure that the pastor has to be a priesthood member, that may just be coincidental because the priesthood runs the church.
    – Jaguir
    Commented Aug 24, 2011 at 4:50
  • 1
    And now I'll add the counterpart: What is the biblical justification for allowing only male pastors?
    – djeikyb
    Commented Aug 31, 2011 at 1:22
  • @Jared 1. I've updated the question to be more specific regarding ordination. However, I've also included the reference that women are to remain silent along with the one stating they're not supposed to teach or have authority. 2. Pastors in the mainstream Protestant churches I've been are part of the priesthood, due to the Priesthood of All Believers--not just managers. Still, the Bible seems clear about all teaching in church, not just being a priest/pastor/song leader/etc.
    – Richard
    Commented Oct 17, 2011 at 16:52

6 Answers 6


This is a question on which Christians disagree among themselves. Even those who hold the Bible as a sole source of authority reach contradictory conclusions on the matter.

On the side of not permitting women pastors, the main passage is 1 Timothy 2:12-14:

But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression.

On the side of those who permit women pastors is Galations 3:28:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

There are others of course. Each side has good arguments why their favorite verses are definitive, and the others are a matter of context.

In short this is a highly complicated issue, which cannot be resolved in a single answer. I strongly recommend further reading on both sides:

  • 7
    This runs afoul of relatively-recent changes to the community guidelines. Specifically that questions that ask for a Biblical basis for X should not be answered with a Biblical basis against X. This answer is half-and-half, and if you toss out everything except what actually answers the question, it's a small, sad answer. I recommend you to edit and remedy this issue, or it may be deleted. This site does want to keep quality high and high-rep users should be good examples to new users, after all... Commented Aug 2, 2015 at 23:44
  • 1
    The use of Paul's words "there is neither male nor female" to support women's ordination cuts two ways. Used for this purpose it also supports the modern push for homosexual marriage. If "there is neither male nor female," it doesn't matter, right? This is why the Galatians 3:28 argument in support of women's ordination fails the litmus test for validity--it is not upheld when cross-compared to the rest of the Biblical teaching on the subject.
    – Biblasia
    Commented Jun 2, 2023 at 13:39

Here are some verses that were often referred to in discussions of ordination of women among ELCA Lutherans.

  1. Women first at tomb

    I know a female ELCA Lutheran pastor who said she felt her call to be pastor solidify after reading the Gospels and seeing that women who came to the tomb were the first evangelists of a resurrected Christ.

  2. No male/female in Christ Jesus

    There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal 3:28)

  3. a Prophetess

    And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel,.. (Luke 2:36)

  4. Lydia led a house church

    And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed. (Acts 16:40)


It seems that some of the most popular verses to oppose this are Galatians 3:28, Acts 10:34, and Mark 16:15.

(Gal 3:28) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

(Act 10:34) Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:

These verses are mainly saying that no one can be "more saved" than others. Saved Jews don't have anything over saved Gentiles.

(Mar 16:15) And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

This does not mean that women can be pastors either though, it says that every person should preach the gospel, but obviously not everyone should be a pastor.

  • 1
    1 Peter 3:18-19 is a commandment to the eleven remaining disciples, not everyone. Though I see no reason that it cannot be applied to everyone.
    – Jaguir
    Commented Aug 24, 2011 at 4:40
  • 2
    I agree that preach does not mean be pastor or hold office.
    – Jaguir
    Commented Aug 24, 2011 at 4:42

Disclaimer: This answer was initially posted in response to this question which has been judged to be a duplicate of the OP.

Women appear in ministry functions and even recognized roles in both the Old Testament and New Testament which of course, provides biblical evidentiary support for women's involvement in ministry in general and to a certain extent undermines overly literalistic interpretations of the 'problem' scriptures cited (source). I believe, that the earliest mandate for women in ministry is that given right at the beginning - the command given to co-steward the Earth (in conjunction with men):

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” - Genesis 1:26-28 ESV (emphasis added)

A consequence of the fall, was that the deception of Eve resulted in a curse on her to be under the rule of her husband in a way that worked against her own desire for him (a subjection - cf. Genesis 3:16). It is true, that Adam was made first and there is a sense that Eve was made 'for him'; but it is also true that a male/female partnership with both being co-image-bearers was in God's heart as evidenced in the passage quoted above - the curse bought a sense of dominance as opposed to 'first among equals'. This curse was unfortunately transmitted to subsequent generations and indeed had a highly deleterious effect on women's ability to minister according to their original dominion (co-)mandate and remained in effect until it was broken at Calvary*. The ministries of Deborah and Huldah in the OT were exceptions that gave a glimmer of hope that God's grace was sufficient to overcome the curse by those who put their trust in Him.

The most significant verse on the matter in the OT is not the examples of the two women mentioned however, but:

28 “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. 29 Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit. - Joel 2:28-29 ESV

Which of course received initial fulfilment on the day of Pentecost but remains an aspect of the 'now but not yet'-ness of the Kingdom of God - until the cloudbursts of the latter rain, it will be those who press in to the Kingdom that will lay hold of this truth, while others will fail to grasp it.

I believe that it is in this over-all context, that a deeper meaning than just implied by the immediate context can be seen in the oft-quoted (by egalitarians) Galatians 3:28 -

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

In Christ, women are liberated from the curse of domination to become all they can be in him - including walking in a life of good works prepared for them (cf. Ephesians 2:10) for:

Whoever is a believer in Christ is a new creation. The old way of living has disappeared. A new way of living has come into existence. - 2 Corinthians 5:17 GW

Many will still say, but what about 1 Corinthians 14:33-35 and 1 Timothy 2:11-12? I would answer that these passages must be examined very carefully in light of the context of what the whole of scripture tells us - they represent examples of what 2 Peter 3:15-16 is talking about -

15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. - ESV (emphasis added)

For those who are interested in further study of these matters, I would direct them here,here or here.

*In an analagous way to how scripture teaches us of other Calvary associated benefits (e.g. healing), I believe that this benefit must be appropriated by faith in God's grace.


As a start, I disagree with 1 Cor. 14:34-35 being used as justification for women not to be preachers as it clearly refers to specific occasions where women spoke with their husbands during the teaching of the word. Women did speak in church (1 Cor. 11:4-5) and sometimes men had to be in silence too (1 Cor 14:28,30).

One of the most common arguments in favor is Gal. 3:28 and for me that isn't a valid argument to women preaching as in that context is being spoken of redemption (and in that case, yes, both men and woman are equal).

Reference to women with great ministries in the bible like Miriam (Exodus 15), Deborah (Judges 4) or Phoebe (Romans 16) is common. This shows that there's women in the bible with great ministries which points to unlimited ministry for women (considering they have the same gifts of the spirit as men) but it doesn't address the point of the authority.

When it comes to authority, there's two strong cases against woman preaching

  1. 1 Tim. 2:11-13 with Heb. 13:17. Seeing each passage as a premise, the conclusion naturally extracted is that "so woman cannot be preachers".

To this, the common responses are

For everything in life you need to have common sense and balance

(But that's sort of auto-destructive and doesn't address the premises (made from biblical verses) in the arguments. Do we need common sense and balance also for the usage of that? It's a masked fallacy attacking the person and leaving the argument aside)

The women weren't that well educated back then.

(In an attempt to deny the first premise. Thing is, the justification for that to happen is that "Adam was created first")

  1. 1 Cor. 11:3.

So, the only limitation is in the authority of woman (church and at home) and not in ministry.


This question of whether one's sex male or female mattered to Paul is perhaps easier understood if we start the investigation with another of Paul's comments to Timothy.

When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also. 2 Tim 1:5 But continue thou [Timothy] in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 2 Tim. 3:14-15

In these passages, we find Paul praising the two women teachers Lois and Eunice. He exhorts Timothy to continue in the things taught him.

With that in mind, when we read the so-called admonition against women teachers, we should question what Paul is actually telling the readers.

But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 1 Tim. 2:12

Is Paul contradicting himself between the writing of 1 Tim and 2 Tim or is there something deeper here? In one place he supposedly tells women not to teach and then in another praises the two women teachers!

The word "authority" from the 1 Tim 2:12 and the word "scriptures" in 2 Tim 3:14-15 will guide us. In other words, what is the authority? The sex of the teacher or something else?

Authority [authenteo]:

from autos, "self," and a lost noun hentes, probably signifying working (Eng., "authentic"), "to execise authority on one's own account, to domineer over," is used in 1Ti 2:12, AV, "to usurp authority," RV, "to have dominion." In the earlier usage of the word it signified one who with his own hand killed either others or himself. Later it came to denote one who acts on his own "authority;" hence, "to exercise authority, dominion." Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words

Paul is not correcting the sex of the teacher, but rather, the source of authority; that is, self or scripture.

Who came before Eve? Who came before Adam?

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. 2Pe 1:20-21

Again, Paul is not arguing about Lois or Eunice or any other female teacher. In Paul's time, the finality of God's word via scripture was being fulfilled. In his time, it was the apostles (men) that had the authority. Subsequently, it is scripture that has the authority. If a woman rightly divides the words of God and if a man wrongly teaches scripture, Paul is not saying pay attention to the sex of the teacher. Paul is saying know from whom (scripture) you have learned.

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