What is a Woman's
Authority in the Church
NCW 75, April-June 2002
Q. Am I right in believing that women have no authority in the Body? And if that is so, why do you have Deaconesses and Eldresses in NCCG?
A. Authority, in the Christian perspective, is the stewardship (responsibility) of one person over another or a group of others. A Pastor has authority to govern his congregation (within certain parameters) and a husband has authority to govern his wife and children (within certain parameters). A congregation is a Pastor's stewardship just as a wife and children are a husband's stewardship. A steward is one who administers the property of another, and in this case, the owner is Yahweh through Christ. And as the Parable of the Talents teaches us, there is a day of accountability and reckoning.
A woman at home has a stewardship and authority that is delegated to her by her husband. She is responsible for maintaining the home and raising their children in the ways of righteousness. She may, under the direction of her husband, also be authorised to be engaged in wealth-generating projects such as are described at the end of the Book of Proverbs (31:10ff).
In the local congregation, older women (Eldresses) are to be treated as one would treat mothers in a family (1 Tim.5:2). Like the spiritually older men (Elders), they are to set a certain standard of behaviour (Tit.2:3) and teach the younger women how to become good wives, good mothers, homemakers, and reflect the virtues of Christian feminineness (v.4).
In addition to the Eldresses, there are also ministers like Phoebe who was a Deaconess at Cenchrea, the saints of which were admonished by Paul to help her in that rôle in whatever way they could (Rom.16:1-2). From these and other scriptures we may deduce that the women of the New Testament Church/Assembly had sacred appointments like the men but with different functional authorities and stewardships. The local congregation is a family, and if we wish to understand the broad sweep of women's responsibilities and duties there we have only to look at the rôle of women in the biological family. They are to teach the younger women about marriage matters that would be inappropriate for men, for instance, to teach about. They are to teach small children. And in the case of a Pastress (the 'mother' of the congregation), she is to be an executive, along with her counsellors, of the Pastor and his counsellors, and deal primarily with the needs of the women.
In the absence of qualified male leaders, women may act in leadership positions as temporarily teachers, preachers and pastors, much as a single mother does at home, or when her husband is absent. Eldresses may preside over conferences of other sisters.
From this is may be seen that the offices of Elder and Eldress are not equivalent ministries but compliments, much like that between husband and wife on a spiritual level. And whilst the rôles are clearly defined and prescribed by Scripture, there is both overlap and flexibility to meet the various needs of the Body.
This page was created on 16 June 2004
Last updated on 16 June 2004
Copyright © 1987-2008 NCCG - All Rights Reserved