Christ and His Bride: Why Your Pastor’s Gender Matters


Matthew M. Kennedy

Article ID:



Mar 27, 2023


Nov 3, 2021

This article first appeared in the Christian Research Journal, volume 44, number 03 (2021). ​ For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal please click here.


The classical Christian consensus that only men should be set apart in Holy Orders to preach and celebrate the sacraments has been the target of withering critique at least since the sexual revolution that began in the 1960s. Many Christian communions have succumbed to the pressure to ordain women and to give them authority over congregations, dioceses, and denominations, accepting new and revised interpretations of biblical passages that for centuries undergirded the traditional practice. Alongside this development and wholly entwined with it stands the broad rejection of gender differentiated marriage roles. The once ubiquitous notion within the church that a husband should lead his wife and family and that a wife should help him in this task and even submit to his leadership is met with increasing disdain. Among the many casualties resulting from this departure has been the elimination or, at the very least, the de-centering of one of the grand “types” or portraits revealed in the Bible that once imbued both marriage and the pastoral vocation with transcendent importance and beauty. When God made the first man from the dust of the earth, forming from his body the first woman and then joining the two together as one, He was doing more than creating a companionable pair for the propagation of the species. He was painting the portrait of Christ and His church, His own Son and the people who would become both His body and His bride. That theme, running from Genesis to Revelation, was to be embodied in every marriage and reflected in the ministry of every pastor.

Why did God make us male and female? For many people today, that question is nonsensical. God, supposing a person believes He exists, did not create only two but many genders. These are determined not by biological considerations but by the individual looking within and choosing from a cornucopia of sexual identities. For the Christian, however, gender is given, not chosen. You are a man or you are a woman depending on the kind of body God made for you at your conception. The task of the Christian life is to receive and humbly conform one’s self to God and the things He has made. In the process, the question — Why did God make us male and female? — is not only a profitable one but necessary. It leads to a transcendent vision of the relationship between God and Israel and Christ and the church. But first, it begins with the lowly and fraught relationship between a man and his own wife.


In Matthew 19, Pharisees approach Jesus with a question, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” (v.3).1 At the time, there were two competing schools of thought regarding divorce. The most popular view was that a man was free to divorce his wife for any cause, however trivial. The other held that divorce could be sought only because of sexual infidelity. The debate centered around the word “indecency” in Deuteronomy 24:1: “When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce…” The text goes on to forbid the man from ever marrying her again should she once more be divorced. But what does “indecency” refer to? Is it a sexual indiscretion? Or does it refer to anything that displeases a husband?

Jesus did not answer the Pharisees with a definitive explanation of Deuteronomy 24:1.2 Instead, He turned back to Genesis 1 and 2: “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So, they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matt. 19:4–6). The phrase, “he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,” refers to Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Jesus takes His quotation — “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife and the two shall become one flesh” — from Genesis 2:24. While in other places Jesus allows for divorce in cases of sexual immorality,3 here He establishes the principle that divorce is a human attempt to tear apart a divinely created union.

Contained in His answer are two foundational truths. First, that we are male and female is not arbitrary, nor accidental. God made us male and female so that we might be joined together as “one flesh” — a rather visceral phrase — in marriage. This, of course, cuts out every other sort of sexual pairing from polyamory and homosexual unions to serial marriages.4 Second, when God put the man to sleep and formed the woman out of his body and then joined the two together, He accomplished a work that far transcended Adam and Eve. Their marriage is constitutive, according to Jesus, of all marriages. God joins every couple just as He did the first, making the two one.

God could have designed things differently. He could have made us all androgyne. He might have designed us to reproduce asexually. It is a great deal of trouble, speaking as a man, to leave your father and your mother and hold fast to a wife. You have to find a woman willing to be endure you, first of all. I am sure that women would agree that, at times, the whole process seems perplexing. God made us male and female so that most (though not all) might be joined in marriage. But why marriage?


The answer to that question is a profound one. In Ephesians 5:31–32, toward the end of a discussion of Christian marriage, Paul quotes Genesis 2:24 — the very same passage to which Jesus turned in Matthew 19: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Paul writes: “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” What does this mean? It means that God did not make two complementary sexes merely as a functional means of reproduction. He did not take the woman out of the man’s body because it seemed more efficient than forming her from the dust of the earth. God took the woman from the body of the man and joined them together as one flesh in order to provide a lasting portrait of the relationship between Christ and His church. The church is both the body of Christ and His Bride, just as Eve was both Adam’s body and his bride.

This explains Paul’s instructions to wives in Ephesians 5:22–24: “Submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” Moreover, it explains why, beginning in the very next verse, Paul commands Christian husbands to “love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (v.25). The basis for these commands is not that women are ontologically inferior to men (both are made in God’s image) or that men are inherently Christ-like (they are not) but that God Himself designed marriage and intended every marriage to be a type, a portrait, of Christ and His church, the husband reflecting Christ and the wife reflecting the church.

This understanding of Ephesians 5 has drawn fire from egalitarians who argue that all hierarchical gender relationships flow from God’s curse in Genesis 3:16: “Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”5 They also argue that Paul’s instruction to submit in Ephesians 5:22 applies to both wives and husbands.6 Writing for the Anglican Church in North America’s College of Bishops, Grant LeMarquand and William Witt argue, “There is no hint [in Genesis 2 before the Fall] of hierarchy or subordination of any kind or any suggestion that the man is to command or be in charge of the woman or she to obey him.”7

Nevertheless, scholarly expositors have found many such “hints.”8 God created Adam first (Gen. 2:7). He gave Adam the command not to eat the fruit (2:16–17) but does not repeat the command to Eve. God gives Adam the authority to name the animals (2:19). He creates Eve from Adam’s flesh (2:22). Adam names the woman, “woman” (2:23). After the Fall, God calls to the man first for an explanation (3:9). All these suggest that Adam bore responsibilities that Eve did not.9

Most importantly, Paul grounds his instructions that wives submit to their husbands and husbands love their wives in Genesis 2:24, before the Fall, not in the subsequent curse of Genesis 3:16. He does this because he says Genesis 2:24 refers to Christ and His church. The church and Christ do not have an egalitarian relationship. Christ gave up His life for His church, but He did not and does not submit to her. Paul does not bind Christian couples to a cursed order, but to creation restored by and in Christ.

Many also point out that the word translated “submit” (ὑποτάσσω/hypotasso) is not found in Ephesians 5:22 but borrowed from 5:21, in which Paul commands every member of the church to “submit” to one another. But since there is no verb in 5:22, Greek grammar rules require that the verb in the preceding sentence (v.21) be carried over to 5:22. Paul, moreover, repeats the command again in Colossians 3:18–19, “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.” Here, “submit” is not borrowed from a preceding sentence.

Ephesians 5:21 does indeed establish the principle that all Christians should submit to one another in love. But the question Paul begins to answer in 5:22 is how the principle plays itself out in the relational contexts of husbands and wives, children and parents, slaves and masters. Paul’s answer is not that there are no more hierarchies but that the gospel so transforms these hierarchies that they are no longer exploitative but reflect God’s deep love of and care for His people. In the case of slavery, this principle ultimately overturned the institution, a process that began during Paul’s ministry (see Philemon). Marriage and the family, however, are divinely instituted relationships and therefore cannot be overturned. Whether we speak of the relationship between husband and wife, or father and children, the Son of God emptying Himself and taking on the form of a servant does not undo hierarchy and subordination. Rather, it defines, sanctifies, and heals it.


So far, I have focused exclusively on the typological meaning of marriage and how that meaning explains the differing roles for wives and husbands specified in the New Testament. But that God made Eve from Adam and joined them in marriage to reflect the relationship between Christ and His church also carries implications for Israel and for the church.

Consider Adam’s threefold role. Many have pointed out that the Garden of Eden resembles and functions like a temple.10 Adam meets with God in the garden like a priest in the temple. God sets Adam in the garden to “work” and “keep” it using the same Hebrew words used for the priests working and tending the temple.11 Moreover, as mentioned, God gives Adam the authority to name the animals, a mark of his dominion over them, and he even names the woman “woman,”12 later calling her Eve (Gen. 3:20). Finally, again already noted, God gives Adam the command not to eat the fruit before creating Eve. Adam, by implication, must proclaim God’s word to his bride. Adam in the garden is, as Jonathan Gibson points out, a prophet, priest, and king. “Created from the dust of the earth as a man, yet made in the image of God as his son, Adam was placed in the garden-temple of Eden as God’s prophet-priest-king to work and keep it. As prophet, he was to speak God’s Word to God’s world; as priest, he was to guard God’s divine sanctuary and mediate God’s blessing to the world; as king, he was to rule God’s world.”13

Under the Old Covenant the same three roles of prophet, priest, and king were distributed among a plurality of individuals. Aaronic priests could not be kings, and Davidic kings could not be Aaronic priests. Most prophets were prophets only. Although King David was also a prophet, and Samuel the prophet also acted as priest, and priests exercised the teaching office, no one person filled all three roles. God, it should be noted, gave the priesthood and kingship to men. The only examples of Israelite queens are negative ones.14 There are women prophets like Deborah and Huldah, but by far, most are men. Since Adam, the first prophet, priest, and king, typified Christ, and Eve typified the people of God, it should come as no surprise that God chose men to be priests and kings and, for the most part, prophets for Israel.

While egalitarians place inordinate weight on the relatively few female prophets, they largely ignore the male kingship and take particular aim at the all-male priesthood. LeMarquand and Witt, for example, write:

There are, of course, no women priests in the Old Testament. We must keep in mind, however, that in the Old Testament period there were no priests who were gentiles, or disabled, or not from the tribe of Levi. Also significant are the Old Testament purity laws, which would have prohibited women from performing priestly functions for several days at least once a month, and for a significant period after child-birth. Many Old Testament temple functions were also periodically scheduled, and women could not be depended upon to be ritually pure on each occasion the function needed to be performed.15

The priesthood was restrictive. Not every son of Aaron could meet the qualifications. No woman ever could. Had God desired women priests, He could have instituted a fitting sacrificial system. That God explicitly called men to the priesthood and that the ceremonial requirements for the priesthood prevented women from participation is not accidental. The priest must be a man for the same reason that Israel’s king must be a man, because he ministers to Israel on behalf of her divine husband. A female priesthood would shatter that image.

Jesus fulfilled and embodied the offices of prophet, priest, and king by His incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension. From Him the offices of prophet, priest, and king flow and by Him they are perfectly embodied. Adam failed his bride, Israel’s kings proved unfaithful, the priests and their sacrifices were insufficient for her, and the prophets did not restore her. But Jesus is not only a prophet, He is also the very Word of God, whose voice calls to the dead and they live. He is not only a good king but also the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the flock and drives away wolves and thieves and hirelings. He is not like the sons of Aaron. He is the Great High Priest of the order of Melchizedek. He is the Eternal Priest who offered Himself as Victim without blemish. His sacrifice, once offered, was a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. In His Person and by His work, the Bride is cleansed, redeemed, restored, and delivered.

There remains, however, a people to be led, a word to be preached, and sacraments to be administered. Jesus appointed twelve men to be His personal representatives. These were His apostles — His “sent ones.” He promised that He would lead them by the Holy Spirit into “all the truth” (John 14:25–26; 16:12–15). Through the Twelve (and later Paul), Jesus delivered the full deposit of His revelation, which He then caused to be inscripturated in the New Testament.

Through the New Testament, Jesus continues to love His Bride, quickening her by the power of His words, revealing the sacraments to her by which He cleanses and feeds her, and providing qualifications for a new order of ministry through which He leads and cares for her. In the overseer/ elder or, more simply, the presbyter,16 the Christ/Bride typology, established at creation, and restored and embodied at the Incarnation, continues until Christ’s return.


Those who argue that women should be ordained as presbyters often point to examples of women in the New Testament playing key roles.17 Mary sits at Jesus’ feet as a disciple together with His twelve male disciples (Luke 10:38–42). Women follow Jesus to Jerusalem to care for His needs (Matt. 27:55–56). Women stay when the male disciples scatter and weep at the foot of His cross (John 19:25). Women observe Jesus’ burial (Matt. 27:61) and they are the first to see His empty tomb (Mark 16:1–4) and touch His risen body (John 20:17). Women are sent first by angels and then by Jesus Himself to proclaim the resurrection to the male disciples who are still hiding (Matt. 28:5–10). After Pentecost, women act as patrons for the apostles (Acts 16:15), they serve as trusted messengers (Rom. 16:2), and they even prophesy (Acts 21:9; 1 Corinthians 11:1–16).

Women indisputably possessed influence and authority in the early church. But this fact is somewhat irrelevant to the contemporary debate regarding ordaining women. Few, if any, argue that women ought to have no influence, power, role and/or voice in the church. There is scant New Testament basis for that degree of restriction. Nevertheless, to observe that women fulfilled important tasks and wielded great influence in the early church does not establish that they were presbyters during that time or that they ought to be presbyters now.

There are two texts that deal specifically with church offices: 1 Timothy 3:1–7 and Titus 1:5–9. In both, Paul provides qualifications for presbyters in exclusively male terms. These terms (μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρα/ mias gynaikos andra in 1 Timothy 3:2 and μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἀνήρ / mias gynaikos anēr in Titus 1:6) are usually translated with the phrase “the husband of one wife” but could also be “a one-woman man.”

Egalitarian interpreters argue that the phrase is not intended to limit the office to men but to establish a rule of sexual fidelity in marriage. Besides, some add, if a presbyter is to be, exclusively, a one-woman man, then that would also prevent single men from serving. They note the similarity between that phrase and the one found in 1 Timothy 5:9, which requires enrolled widows18 to have “been the wife of one husband,” and suggest that “husband of one wife” is just a stock phrase for “faithfulness” not intended to specify any particular gender.19

It is probably true that the primary concern in all three cases is sexual immorality, but that does not explain away the masculine terminology. No man is a “widow,” which is why Paul requires that an enrolled widow be a “one-man woman.” No woman is a presbyter, which is why Paul requires a presbyter to be a “one-woman man.” That Paul, in the same letter (1 Timothy), uses the same phrase but customizes it for women when referring to widows and for men when referring to presbyters leaves little room to argue that it is a generic stock phrase, broad enough to include both men and women. It is not true, moreover, that “one-woman man” requires that a man be married to be a presbyter. It does require that if a man is married, he must be faithful. That Paul uses ἄνδρα /andra (man or husband) in 1 Timothy 3:2, a different form of the word ἀνήρ / anēr, which he uses in Titus 1:6, a word almost always used to specify males, while articulating an expectation that only men can meet (having one wife) also militates against the idea that Paul had any notion of female presbyters. It also explains why English translators use exclusively male pronouns when translating these texts.20


Turning from the texts that explicitly deal with church offices, egalitarians often point to examples of women in the New Testament performing tasks associated with the presbyterate to show that women were trusted to do the work presbyters do. Romans 16 figures prominently in this argument, in particular Phoebe, who they describe as a deacon; Priscilla, who taught Apollos; and Junia, who they argue was an apostle.21

Phoebe. Paul’s language in Romans 16:1 may imply that a woman named Phoebe held the office of deacon, but the word that he uses to describe her, διάκονος /diakonos (servant), could simply refer to the function of serving rather than to an ecclesial office. While the question is relevant to the debate over women in the diaconate (which is beyond the scope of this article), it has little bearing on the question of women presbyters.

Paul identifies Phoebe as a benefactor/patron and thus a wielder of influence and authority. This underscores the fact that Jesus and His apostles viewed women as fully human and equal partners in the work of the gospel. It doesn’t, however, necessarily follow that she “presided” over eucharistic feasts in her home since, as LeMarquand and Witt argue, benefactors/patrons customarily presided over ordinary feasts that they hosted.22 But the eucharist was not and is not a regular meal, and we should not assume that its celebration was determined by first-century household norms. Justin Martyr, in his First Apology, written around AD 150, describes a second-century eucharistic celebration:

And on…Sunday, all…gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. 23

Notice that the “president of the assembly” is distinguished from the deacons. The title, “president of the assembly,” probably describes a presbyter, not the owner of the house or the patron. He is not described as the president of the “household” or patron but as the “president of the assembly.” The deacons — the office Phoebe may have occupied — do not officiate but distribute to the absent. Phoebe may have hosted a Corinthian congregation in her home, but it does not necessarily follow that she officiated the communion feast.

The text indicates that Paul sent Phoebe with his letter to the Roman church. This is why he “commends” her to them. Customarily the one sent to deliver such letters would also read them aloud publicly and would be expected to answer any questions or explain any difficulties.24 Is this an example of a woman publicly reading and expositing Paul’s letter for an entire congregation? That is a possibility. If so, it would be relevant to the debate over the meaning and translation of 1 Timothy 2:11–12, in which Paul apparently forbids women from teaching men and instructs them to “remain silent.” But even if it is shown that Phoebe did read and explain Paul’s letter to a Roman congregation, that would not make her a presbyter. Nor is it the same as being appointed to regularly, week by week, preach and exposit for a specific congregation. God has equipped women in various fields of study, including the field of biblical interpretation, but this does not mean that women were then or must now be presbyters.

Priscilla. In Romans 16:3, Paul mentions Priscilla by name, together with her husband, Aquilla. In Acts, they together instruct Apollos in private. They “took him aside” (18:26). There were and are, again, many women who possess great doctrinal knowledge and who can help (notice that Priscilla acted in concert with her husband) instruct the church and even men in the church in various ways. The question is whether the office of presbyter, as it is established in Scripture, is open to women. That women may skillfully accomplish the tasks Scripture assigns to the presbyter does not mean that women must occupy the office. The church is not built according to “whatever works,” but by the will of Christ who does not always choose the fastest horse, the strongest arm, or the most eloquent tongue.

Junia. The individual identified as Junia in Romans 16:7 has been the subject of wide-ranging debate. The Greek of Romans 16:7 is ambiguous: “Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me.” The word translated “well known” is ἐπίσημος / episēmos. Key to the controversy is whether this term is used comparatively, as in: “Among all the other reindeer, Rudolf, by comparison, was outstanding.” Or whether it is used in an elative sense: “Rudolf the reindeer was well known to/by the children.” Is Junia an apostle being compared to apostles or is she well known to the apostles but not herself an apostle? The debate boils down to the preposition ἐν /en, which many translate “among.” This would be consistent with the comparative use of episēmos (though not inconsistent with the elative use). But en can also be translated “to/by,” which fits with the elative view but is inconsistent with the comparative.25

Even supposing the comparative translation “among” is granted, Douglas Moo points out that this does not necessarily identify Junia as an apostle in the sense that the Twelve were apostles. Moo writes, “Many scholars…are guilty of accepting too readily a key supposition in this line of reasoning: that ‘apostle’ here refers to an authoritative leadership position such as that held by the ‘Twelve’ and by Paul. In fact, Paul often uses the title ‘apostle’ in a ‘looser’ sense: sometimes simply to denote a ‘messenger’ or ‘emissary’….so ‘apostle’ here probably means ‘traveling missionary.’”26 The apostles of Christ were a well-known set of men appointed directly by Jesus, who were witnesses of His resurrection and who, with the exception of Paul, were with Him from the beginning of His ministry.27 Neither Junia28 nor Andronicus fit that bill.

The exact roles Phoebe, Priscilla, and Junia played in the early church may never be known and thus grounding arguments for or against ordaining women on Romans 16 is especially fraught. More broadly, the attempt to revise interpretations of texts like 1 Timothy and Romans 16 to carve out a place for women presbyters does violence to the image of Christ and His Bride that God has woven throughout the fabric of Scripture, that He has enfleshed in husband and wife, and that He reflects in the pastor’s love for his congregation.


Despite the increasing popularity of the egalitarian position and the modern introduction of women presbyters in a number of denominations, contemporary egalitarians have not succeeded in overturning the substance of the classic Christian position. Newly revised interpretations of texts like 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 and attempts to leverage women into the office by reducing the question to one of pragmatics — the claim that “women can do what presbyters do, therefore they must be made presbyters” — fail not only exegetically but also efface the dramatic portrait of Christ and His church. That portrait begins in the garden of Genesis 2 and threads through to Revelation when the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven, “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (21:2).

For the ordinary Christian, the complexity of the debate may resemble theological angels dancing on the head of a pin. Does elative use of en really matter in the larger scheme of life? Besides all that, why should educated and competent women be denied careers serving God and His people? And yet, there remains the peculiar inconvenience of biology, of men longing to be with women and leaving father and mother to cling to them, and of the church, that strange mystery that brings people together week after week to hear the exposition of Scripture and then walk forward and receive the bread and wine. Together these speak one great truth to a broken and confused world. Christ, the Bridegroom, was in eternity past given a Bride by His own Father. From heaven He came and sought her. He took her up and joined Himself to her so that they might be one forever. Every married couple is joined likewise together by God so that by their lives they might tell the story of Christ and His church. Every believer is gathered into that throng, the church, Christ’s Bride and set down into a congregation where, through His presbyters, the divine Husband loves His people to the end.

The Reverend Matthew M. Kennedy (M.Div, VTS) is the rector of The Church of the Good Shepherd in Binghamton, New York.


  1. All biblical quotations are taken from the English Standard Version.
  2. Except to say that Deuteronomy 24:1 represented a concession due to Israel’s hard heartedness (see Matt. 19:8).
  3. Matthew 5:32, for example.
  4. Robert Gagnon, “The Gospel of Jesus on Sexual Binaries,” First Things, May 4, 2016,
  5. Beth Allison Barr, The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2021), 28–32.
  6. Helga Edwards and Bob Edwards, “Ephesians 5:22: When Men Add Commands to the Bible,” The Equality Workbook: Freedom in Christ from the Oppression of Patriarchy, February 20, 2017,
  7. Grant LeMarquand and William Witt, “Women in Holy Orders: A Biblical and Theological Defense of the Case for Allowing Women to Continue to Be Ordained as Presbyters in the Anglican Church of North America,” 2018, 7, quoted in “Appendix: Women in Holy Orders: A Response,” The Anglican Diocese of the Living Word, March 17, 2020, 31,
  8. See, for example, Thomas R. Schreiner, “Women in Ministry: Another Complementarian Perspective,” in Two Views on Women in Ministry, revised, ed. James R. Beck (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005), 289–97; see also Wayne Grudem, Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth: An Analysis of More Than 100 Disputed Questions (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Press, 2004), 30–42.
  9. Portions of this article are adapted from Matthew M. Kennedy, “Women in Holy Orders: A Response,” The Anglican Diocese of the Living Word, March 17, 2020, 26–70,
  10. For a good summary of this perspective, see Derek Rishmawy, “9 Reasons the Garden of Eden Was a Temple,” Reformedish, December 7, 2012,
  11. Compare Genesis 2:15 with Numbers 3:7–8, 8:25–26, and 1 Chronicles 23:32.
  12. Hebrew Issa, Genesis 2:23.
  13. Jonathan Gibson, “Liturgy in the Garden of Eden,” Westminster Theological Seminary Blog, March 23, 2018,
  14. Athaliah and Jezebel particularly stand out.
  15. LeMarquand and Witt, “Women in Holy Orders,” 8, quoted in “Appendix: Women in Holy Orders: A Response,” 36.
  16. In two places, Titus 1 and Acts 20, the words ἐπίσκοπος (overseer/bishop) and πρεσβύτερος (elder/presbyter) are used interchangeably, which likely means the two words described one office. By the second century, the church began to use the term ἐπίσκοπος (“bishop”) exclusively for one who oversees other presbyters or priests. To simplify, I refer to the New Testament overseer/elder simply as “presbyter.”
  17. This standard argument is well represented in Margaret Mowczko, “Women Church Leaders in the New Testament,” Margaret Mowczko: Exploring the Biblical Theology of Christian Egalitarianism, July 28, 2010,
  18. Widows qualifying for material support from the church.
  19. These arguments can be found in summary form in Mowczko, “Women Church Leaders in the New Testament.”
  20. Many egalitarians chalk this translating decision up to sexism. See, for example, Paul Ellis, “How Sexist Is Your Bible?,” Escape to Reality, March 18, 2021,
  21. See LeMarquand and Witt, “Women in Holy Orders,” 9–10; Barr, Biblical Womanhood, 63–70.
  22. LeMarquand and Witt, “Women in Holy Orders,” 9.
  23. Justin Martyr, First Apology (AD 150?), chapter 67. Trans. Marcus Dods and George Reith, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1, eds. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.), revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight,
  24. As Jeff Miller, quoting M. Luther Stirewalt, writes, “Paul depended on a third party to complete and update communications and to return messages from the correspondents— to expand and interpret his written word, and to translate his thought and intention when the messages were presented orally before an assembly.” Jeff Miller, “What Can We Say About Pheobe?,” Priscilla Papers, vol. 25, no. 2 (Spring 2011):18.
  25. Daniel B. Wallace, surveying both the Septuagint and extra-biblical early resources, notes that when “an elative notion is found, ἐν plus a personal plural dative is not uncommon. In [Psalms of Solomon] 2:6, where the Jewish captives are in view, the writer indicates that ‘they were a spectacle among the gentiles’ (ἐπισήμῳ ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν). This construction comes as close to Rom 16:7 as any I have yet seen.” Daniel B. Wallace, “Junia Among the Apostles: The Double Identification Problem in Romans 16:7,”, June 24, 2004,
  26. Douglas J. Moo, The Letter to the Romans (Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmans, 2018), 923–24.
  27. See the requirements for the office of Apostle in Acts 1:21-22. See also Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, September 22, 2008), chap. 5, Kindle.
  28. “A Female Apostle?,” The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, June 26, 2007,


Share This