Roles of Women in Church of Christ

For the value of women in the church, Christians believe that God created men and woman in His image (Gen 1:27). According to Genesis 2, God created man from the earth and woman from man’s rib. Women have an immense influence in the church correcting errors and glorifying God. God did create woman in the glory of man and man in the glory of God, so they have different glories as a part of God’s image (1 Cor 11:7).

For the role of women in the church, both men and woman must examine the scriptures with the greatest of honesty. Christian men and women must humble themselves before God’s written Word. Christians can never disregard the authority, the authenticity and, or the guidance of Christ’s words that He gave to His apostles and prophets recorded in the Scriptures (John 15:20; 16:12–13; 17:8). When considering the glory of women, the Christian must not compromise the God-breathed Scriptures for which the Holy Spirit guided (2 Pet 1:21). Culture is not a standard for understanding God’s Word concerning women in the church (1 Pet 1:23–25), and the followers of Christ must not reject the authority of the Scriptures (2 Tim 3:16–17). God knows His creation and the nature of both man and woman. This study will neither add to these instructions nor take them away.

Differences between Men and Women

To recognize the obvious, God made man different from women. God made man is His glory unlike woman whom God made in the glory of man (1 Cor 11:7). Biblically, God made man first and embedded the inherited qualities of God’s glory in man, so that masculinity originated from God the Father who is masculine in description. God came in the flesh as the man, Jesus of Nazareth, and Jesus selected twelve apostles who were all men. Those who recognize the divinely given attributes of men and women will not struggle with these Scriptures, but they will see the distinct glories given to women and men.

Equality of Man and Woman

The Spirit of Christ states, “there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28). Man and woman are one and equal in Christ having the same inheritance of salvation together. Their equality is not egalitarian but complementary. In other words, the equality of man and woman is not exact in God-given abilities and yet their differences complement the other gender. God gave woman an influence upon man. The Christian woman has the influence by her conduct so that she can subordinate herself and have a greater influence upon men than by teaching and exercising authority over men (1 Pet 3:1–6; cf. Gen 3:6–7). Woman is the glory of man, and man can see that glory demonstrated in her holy and chaste conduct.

How Men Lead in the Church

God wants men to lead in the church because God created man first. By “lead,” Jesus taught that the greater leads by service and not by authority (Luke 22:25–27). One of these five reasons is that God made man in His glory (1 Cor 11:7). Two others include that God made woman for man and from man (1 Cor 11:8–-9). Next, God made man first (1 Tim 2:13). Lastly, man was not deceived, but woman was deceived becoming a transgressor (1 Tim 2:14). Therefore, Christ’s Spirit revealed that God had first determined that man have the role of leading and teaching (1 Tim 2:13). Christian men must not forfeit that leadership to serve.

Men must become and remain spiritual leaders and providers of the home (Eph 5:25–29). Men have been given the God-given right to lead in the home and thus in the church; for God created man first (1 Tim 2:13; cf. 1 Tim 3:1–7; Titus 1:5–9). Some secular men resent the glory of women, and many women recent the leadership of men. Both men and women should abhor the sinful behavior and abusive “leadership” of unloving men. However, both men and women must respect the glories of both genders, and in doing so, they respect and love God.

Quiet in Church

For those who wanted women to speak in the assembly, the apostle Paul admonished, “Or did the word of God come originally from you? Or was it you only that it reached? If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Cor 14:36–37).

In 1 Timothy 2:11–12, women are not to teach or exercise authority over men. This passage clearly teaches women to remain at peace in quietness. Some versions misinterpret “quiet” to mean “silent.” Looking closer at this Scripture, “quiet” is an important word here. In 1 Timothy 2, the word sometimes translated “silence.” However, the Greek word is hesuchia, which the ESV translates as “quiet” rather than “silent.” The word hesuchia does not mean complete silence and the uses of this word in other scriptures show this as consistently true. Translators render this word as “peaceable” in 1 Timothy 2:2 where the Spirit instructs all men to live “peaceable” lives. However, this does not mean that all people must remain completely silent for the rest of their lives.

Some other scriptures about the quiet and peaceable meaning of the word. In Acts 22:2, the scripture uses this word for “quietness” to describe Paul’s audience who became “quieter” showing this cannot mean complete silence. Acts 11:18 and 21:14 shows that someone can speak while also being “quiet” (hesuchia). Luke 23:56 uses the word to mean rest, peace, and tranquility on the Sabbath. First Thessalonians 4:11 and 2 Thessalonians 3:12 teach Christians to be “quiet” in life meaning peaceable, but this certainly does not mean remain silent throughout life. Peter instructed wives to have a “quiet” spirit by this same word (1 Pet 3:4). Therefore, 1 Timothy 2 does not mean that wives can never speak to their husbands, since scripture says that they are to ask their men questions (1 Cor 14:35). The New Testament teaches women to remain quiet in assemblies where men pray. Women are neither to teach over Christian men nor to rule over a man. This is the quiet peacefulness described throughout Scripture.

No Authority Over Men

In 1 Timothy 2:11–12, the apostle Paul instructed, “In quietness, a woman must learn in all subordination. And I permit not a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man, but to remain in quietness.” Learning in quietness is in subordination to learning the teachings of Christ, and that women are not to teach “over a man” or “to exercise authority over a man.” On these points, nothing shows that a woman cannot ask a question and comment in a meeting among Christian men outside of an assembly where men are not leading in prayer. However, woman should neither rule over man nor should she teach him in the spiritual gathering where men lead in prayer (1 Tim 2:8).

In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul commanded silence among men speaking in order and women are not to speak. The context reveals that this speaking is not all speaking, but that this speaking is public speaking before a congregation. The word for silence here is another Greek word sigao. This chapter teaches that everyone is to remain silent when another is speaking. The silence here does not mean “peaceable” but silence by not speaking publicly in the assembly. However, all are to sing — men and women (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16). All men are to remain silent to respect God in the assembly by not speaking while another is speaking (1 Cor 14:27–33). According to 1 Corinthians 14, women and men are not to speak when another is speaking in the assembly (14:34–35).

Women must sing and so teach within the congregation by singing, yet she is not “speaking,” teaching, or exercising authority over a man by singing. In this sense, women and men as the whole congregation are to teach in song “speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” (Eph 5:19).

The Influence of Women in the Church

Women are still to teach and to evangelize. Christian women are not teach or exercise authority over men, but they must still pray and teach as members of the congregation. Paul affirmed, “But every woman who prays or prophesies…” (1 Cor 11:5a). However, these women who pray or prophesy outside of the presence of men are to demonstrate subordination while not teaching men and exercising authority over men.

Who were the women to teach? In Acts 21:8–9, Luke reported that Philip had four virgin daughters who prophesied. These daughters were not teaching over men, but they must have been teaching other women and children in the church. Paul also taught the older women to teach the younger (Titus 2:3–4). When was all this teaching to take place? Did they meet daily for Bible studies? Did they meet once a week? Did they spend a whole day teaching where women taught women? Women certainly took time to teach and instruct one another and children (2 Tim 1:5). 

Concerning evangelizing others, Priscilla with her husband Aquila privately corrected Apollos in Acts 18:26. Priscilla accurately explained doctrine to a man, Apollos, with her husband. Did Priscilla teach over or rule over her husband, Aquila? She certainly did not. Priscilla did teach a man, Apollos, who was not a baptized disciple of Christ yet, and the instruction for women not to teach or exercise authority over a man did not apply to these men who were not Christians yet and who were outside the church. The setting of private evangelism does allow for a woman to help teach a men; although, observe that her husband was with her. Christians are to grow into teachers (2 Tim 2:2, 24; Heb 5:12). 

Scripture does not teach that women cannot and must not ask questions and comment in Bible studies in the presence of men. However, women must remain prideful respecting that God created of man first for men to lead. Women should see that their chaste conduct has a great influence upon men. Therefore, having such influence, women can understand that if they taught and exercised authority over men, then they would assume too much taking the glory of God from man and yet retaining her influence as a woman. That combination brought disaster in the Garden of Eden, and such will bring spiritual devastation today. Therefore, women must humbly remain silent in the assembly and peaceable in all meetings.


Christian women observe that God knows best about His Creation and the glories of men and women. Women must look to the example of Jesus Christ who is God come in the flesh as a man. Christians women must recognize Jesus’s example of using men as His apostles. God instructed men to lead as God created man first (1 Tim 2:11–13). Men are to lift holy hands in leading prayer. God established men as the spiritual leaders of the home (Eph 5:25–29). May God bless all faithful women to see that God commands women to respect the headship of men (Eph 5:33).