Women and Spiritual Gifts - 1 Cor. 12:18-31
28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
The spirit gives gifts to believers as He sees fit. These gifts equip men and women for effective ministry. Humans do not hand out these gifts, however, believers are called to make judgments on the authenticity of the gift. This does not mean judging another person's acceptance by God, but it does mean evaluating whether or not their use of the gift is according to Biblical requirements. Just because a person claims to have a gift, doesn't mean the church should automatically accept it.
Each person's claim must be confirmed by Biblical criteria. For example, if a woman claims to be a prophet, she must be checked against the Biblical criteria for proving a true prophet (1 Thes. 5:20-21, 1 Jn. 4:1-3, Matt. 7;20, Deut. 18:22, Is. 8:20, 2 Tim. 3:16, Rev. 20:4, 2 Pet. 2:1, Matt. 24:11, Ez. 13:17).
The office of elders/bishops (church overseers) is not classified as a spiritual gift (though a person filling the office will have spiritual gifts). However, the same principle applies. If a woman claims to be called to be an elder, she must be checked against the Biblical criteria for the position (1 Tim. 3:1-7, Titus 1:6-9, 1 Cor. 14:34-35, 1 Tim. 2:11-13). Since the Bible disqualifies women from serving as elders/bishops, her claim must be rejected by the church. God Himself directly chooses and commissions prophets, but He instructed that the commissioning of elders be carried out by the church.
"For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee" (Titus 1:5).
"And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed" (Acts 14:23).
A woman may have spiritual gifts of teaching and pastoring. These should be used in ministry and spreading the gospel. But that does not mean she should fill the role of elder or overseer of the church. A woman cannot just say that God has appointed her to be an elder and therefore the church should recognize that calling and ordain her as an elder. That is inappropriate when God has delegated the function of ordaining elders to His church and when she doesn't meet the Bible criteria for filling the role. It may be difficult for a woman to humble herself and submit to God's direction in this matter, but this very attitude is of extreme value to God.
1 Corinthians 12:18-27 "18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. 19 And if they were all one member, where were the body? 20 But now are they many members, yet but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. 22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: 23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. 24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: 25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular."
Next Topic: Women In Ministry
The coordinated working of Christ's body, through spiritual gifts, is how the gospel is successfully spread to the entire world. No part is less important. Each part must be attended. No role can be unfilled. God has instructed His people regarding who fills which roles and He gives spiritual gifts to all so that each may effectively perform his or her tasks. What a privilege to fill any role He offers.