Source: International Gospel Teacher, May-June, 1998
Should a lady (a woman) be called a “preacher”?
by Royce Frederick
To teach God’s word accurately, we must use Bible words in the same way God uses them (see 1 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Timothy 1:13; 2:2; 2:15).
The Bible does not use the word “preacher” to refer to a lady. The Bible uses the word “preacher” to refer to a man who proclaims God’s message (1 Timothy 2:7; 2 Peter 2:5). But ladies are never called “preachers” in the Bible.
All Christians, including ladies, should grow in the knowledge of God’s word (2 Peter 3:18). All Christians should teach others about Christ by their words and deeds (Mark 16:15-16; Hebrews 5:12-14; Matthew 5:16). But the Bible sets limits regarding ladies teaching others.
God’s word does not permit ladies to “preach” publicly to men. The Bible often tells about men preaching God’s word to crowds of men and women (Matthew 4:17; 10:7; 14:14; Acts 8:12; 17:2-4, 10-12). But the Bible clearly teaches that a woman must not be the speaker, speaking to men in the assembly of the church: “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence” (1 Timothy 2:11-12). “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church” (1 Corinthians 14:34-35). The word “church” refers to the people who have been “called out” by the gospel. In the Bible, “church” never means a “physical building.” In verse 34, “in the church” means “in the assembly” of Christians. A woman must not be the speaker, speaking to men “in the church.”
“Preach” means “proclaim” or “declare.” When the Christians were persecuted in Jerusalem, “… those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). Christian ladies were certainly among “those who were scattered” (see verse 3; Acts 22:4). Ladies should teach and proclaim the gospel to other ladies: “the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed” (Titus 2:3-5). Ladies should also teach children (see 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14-15). Ladies who teach God’s word to other ladies or children should be called “teachers.” People who hear that a lady calls herself a “preacher” may think she preaches publicly to men, disobeying God’s instructions to ladies.
A lady can privately discuss God’s word with a man and help him understand the truth. Priscilla and her husband talked privately with Apollos: “… he [Apollos] began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26). This verse clearly tells us that both Aquila and Priscilla explained God’s word to Apollos. And notice that they did not shame Apollos in the presence of the Jewish audience while he was speaking. Instead, they “took him aside” to talk privately with him.
We should give thanks to God for the multitudes of Christian ladies who have brought thousands of souls to Christ by their thoughtful teaching and godly lives. May God grant us many more ladies who are willing to live for Christ and teach “the way of God more accurately.”