Bible Question:

We have a woman pastor in our church. She claims that God called her. What does the Bible say about a woman pastor? Her reasons are as follows: 1) If no man is available, God will use a woman. 2) If God could use a donkey to speak, He can use a woman. 3) When Paul spoke about the husband and wife who had a home church, Paul mentioned the woman first because she was the pastor. 4) Paul states that in the last days God will pour out His spirit and even the daughters will begin to prophesy.

Bible Answer:

We examine what the Bible teaches about women pastors by answering four questions.

If No Man Is Available, Will God Use a Woman?

Scripture never, anywhere, says God will use a woman if a man is not available. No scriptural passage can be found. But there is scripture that prohibits an elder (that is, pastors, shepherds, overseers) from being a woman,

An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife . . . (NASB) 1 Timothy 3:2

The NASB accurately reflects the Greek. An overseer must be a one-woman-man. That is, the elder must be a male. The fact that an elder is a pastor is shown to us in Acts 20:17 and 28,

And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church. (NASB) Acts 20:17

Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. (NASB) Acts 20:28

In this passage these men are called elders in verse 17. Then in verse 28, they are encouraged to pastor (that is, shepherd) the flock of God. A pastor is one who shepherds the flock of God. Scripture requires that pastors be males.

Since God Caused a Donkey to Speak, Can He Use a Woman?

Yes, this is true. If God could use a donkey, He can use a woman. But God never used a donkey as a pastor of a church! God could use a donkey in all of our lives from time to time, but He does not do that . . . This is not a biblical reason for a woman to be a pastor.

Romans 16:3-5 mentions Prisca first and then her husband. This couple first appears in Acts 18, but there is no mention of a church. Verse 2 is the first time their names are mentioned and he is mentioned first. Later in verse 26, she is mentioned first.

And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, having recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. He came to them, (NASB) Acts 18:2

. . . and [Apollos] began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. (NASB) Acts 18:26

The literal wording of the Greek text in verse 26 is,

And hearing him Priscilla and Aquila took him and more accurately to him explained the way of God.

The Greek does not refer to a house, contrary to the NIV’s reading. It is important to note the NIV often adds words, deletes words and interprets passages of scripture. The NIV does not attempt to remain close to the original Greek. The NIV attempts to be “more readable” and is willing to sacrifice accuracy.

The Greek merely says they “took” him. We do not know where they took him because scripture does not say. While it is true that a church did meet in the home of Prisca and Aquila (Romans 16:3-5), they did not need to be in a church to explain the Word of God. It is also an error to assume there is any significance to the fact that her name occurs first. We simply do not know why she is mentioned first. We are not told. This third reason violates a key rule of biblical interpretation – “Do not read into the passage what is not clearly stated.”

Daughters Will Begin to Prophesy

Acts 2:17 says,

And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. (NKJV) Acts 2:17

This is a prophecy spoken by the prophet Joel about the end times (Joel 2:28-29). It mentions sons, daughters, young men and old men. This passage is not about who can be a pastor. This passage is about the out pouring of the Holy Spirit on the nation of Israel during the tribulation (Joel 2:30-31). Again, scripture does not support her conclusion. We should also note that in the New Testament, prophetic utterance was not confined to pastors.

Why The Response?

There are at least three other reasons that may explain why your pastor believes a woman can be a pastor.

First, she may not know the biblical principles for interpreting scripture. Many Christians and many pastors do not know the basics. And even when they do know,  many do not apply them in their study of the Word of Truth. So it is possible that she may simply need to be taught or she is not taking the time to prayerfully study under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Second, it is possible that she may be seeking the world’s sense of value and worth. The world is saying, “Whatever a man can do, I can do.” If this is true of her, she has either rejected God’s desired role for a woman, or she does not understand the great value that God has given to women in the home and in the church (Proverbs 31; Titus 2:3-5). Maybe the church leadership could help her find an area of ministry to which she could give herself and find value in ministry to women or children.

Third, it is possible that she just wants to be the pastor! It would be important to know how she would answer this question, “If the church started looking for a man to be the pastor, would you eagerly support the effort, believing that God wants male leadership? The real test of her desire to submit to God is in her willingness to step aside. This assumes she is serious when she implies she is serving as the pastor only because no male is available.


God wants us to be at peace with others as much as we can (Rom. 12:18), but not when it comes to doctrinal error and mishandling the Word of God (2 John 10-11).

If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds. (NASB) 2 John 10-11

Please pray for your pastor. Ask the Lord to give her a heart that desires to carefully and accurately interpret God’s Word and to give her a sense of the high value of being the woman God wants her to be. God loves her. His plan is of the highest value for each of us. Ask the Holy Spirit to minister to her.

Suggested Links:

Role of Women In The Church
Church Leadership – Function and Qualifications of Elders
Leadership Studies