Women Served in the Top Spiritual Leadership Positions in the Bible (including evidence they were pastors in Bible times)

Many sincere people debate about whether women can be spiritual leaders in  churches or not, especially ordained. It should be really simple to the most casual observer as my math professor used to say after filling the board with equations :).
GOD in the Bible explicitly states that God gives gifts to the WHOLE church and one of them is being a pastor. 

“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.” Ephesians 4:11

There are NO limitations of the gift being given to men there at all. It is to the WHOLE CHURCH.  In this article, I will show much evidence that women were in all the top spiritual positions in the church in the Bible, including significant evidence that women were pastors in the Bible and for sure in the early church.  There are no verses in scripture anywhere that forbid women being pastors or being ordained. I’ve repeatedly asked those against women’s ordination for them and the only response has been devastating silence or posting verses that don’t even mention the term or concept of ordination.  No one has ever produced a single verse banning women from being pastors or ordained in the Bible. Not anyone.

The only “gift” I haven’t been able to find evidence for in the Bible that women did is being a miracle worker as in raising the dead, opening the Red Sea,  healing, etc.  But things like that have happened outside the Bible. My aunt for example experienced a miracle similar to the feeding of the 5,000. She has been a professional cook for most of her life.  She was asked to prepare food for ~25 people at a church evangelistic meeting and did so.  Suddenly, over 100 extra people suddenly showed up unexpectedly. She had no idea what to do, so served what she had and prayed. Everyone ate and enjoyed the food and seemed to be satisfied. She saw no way that could happen except by a miracle.). So we have much evidence of God doing miracles through women outside the Bible.

The term ordination just means to confirm that a church recognizes that someone has been given skills by God to do a spiritual work for Him. And they are officially recognizing them and setting them apart to focus on doing that job for the good of the church. THAT IS ALL IT IS. PERIOD.

The Bible dictionary definition of ordination is:

“To set apart for an office or duty, appoint, destine:…the sense of ‘appoint'”.


So if God says a woman can be a pastor, and a woman shows she has this gift, then it is 100% biblical that she should be ordained to officially recognize this. That is ALL ordination is. Official recognition by the church that God has given someone a gift. If God has given someone a spiritual gift, who are you or I, puny humans to differ with the God of the universe?

We already have commissioned women pastors in the SDA church. The idea that commissioned and ordained are different in scripture is just full out lunacy and hoeey as Dan Jackson and others have rightly said. The idea that it is some magical conveying of magical powers is popery. Unfortunately conservatives are espousing a form of popery as Dr.  Knight, points out here:

Many godly and devout Christians have shown much other solid and conclusive evidence from numerous Bible verses, Ellen White statements, Bible concordances, dictionary definitions, historical events, and science that supports women’s ordination (although there may be a few situations where people are too immature and not ready for this higher level of spirituality and equality like the disciples weren’t ready for more truths Jesus wanted to teach them as Jesus said in John 16:12).

The debate should end right at this point and godly Christians should support the ordination of women in most places. But some sincere but misguided people have used various arguments against women’s ordination that are wholly unbiblical, against what God revealed through Ellen White, claims that depend on hypocrisy and applying principles inconsistently, uses fallacies, follows deceptive arguments (often ones used by atheists), are based on man made ideologies and philosophies (conservativism, liberalism, traditions, precedence, etc.) and more. Tragically none of these tactics are based at all on the 3 main ways God told us in the Bible to find truth (pragmatic truth, correspondence truth and coherence truth) .  And a lot of them are unfortunately based on principles and ideas that originate from pagan ideologies, especially pagan Greek concepts of discrimination.


Judaism and Christianity are the best pioneers of women’s rights in history.  A Jewish site says:

“…Perhaps nowhere did the Torah revolutionize the standing of the common person, as it did with regard to the standing of women. In the narrative literature of the ancient Near East, we find that women fill only two roles: they either satisfy mens’ desires, or they tempt them. It is in the Torah that we first encounter women like Sarah, Rebecca, Miriam and Yocheved who are noted for their industriousness, insight, courage, and spiritual acuity. For the first time in the history of western literature women are people too.”

Nearly every non-biblical worldview has led to the degradation of women, whether it’s Hinduism, Islam, modern atheism/secularism and esp. the ancient Greeks as I point out in this lengthy article that shows how Judeo-Christian has uplifted the rights of women far more than any other worldview.

Unfortunately, pagan Greek thinking infects a great deal of modern thinking as it did the Jews of Jesus’ day. It was a primary reason why they rejected Jesus as the Messiah, because the Greeks said only one side of contradictory ideas could be true and because of that the Jewish leaders couldn’t reconcile Bible texts about Jesus being a conquering hero with those of Him being crucified. This led them to reject the Messiah…but sadly scholars now show that this idea that contradictions can’t both be true is debunked and has many exceptions. 

The Greeks were main pioneers of sexism against women, racism, slavery, universal common descent instead of creation, materialism, methodological naturalism, relativism, hedonism, the immortal soul, eternal hellfire, use of fiction/media as indoctrination and others. And many of their deceptions and false ways of reasoning, finding truth and philosophical concepts still permeate a lot of modern western culture, including views on both the conservative and liberal sides.

Tragically, throughout history one of the worst types of discrimination that has afflicted the world has been discrimination against women and erasing their influence and contributions.

Dr. Karen L. King is Professor of New Testament Studies and the History of Ancient Christianity at Harvard University and says:

In the last twenty years, the history of women in ancient Christianity has been almost completely revised. As women historians entered the field in record numbers, they brought with them new questions, developed new methods, and sought for evidence of women’s presence in neglected texts and exciting new findings…Now we are learning more of the many women who contributed to the formation of Christianity in its earliest years….Chief among these is Mary Magdalene, a woman infamous in Western Christianity as an adulteress and repentant whore. Discoveries of new texts from the dry sands of Egypt, along with sharpened critical insight, have now proven that this portrait of Mary is entirely inaccurate. She was indeed an influential figure, but as a prominent disciple and leader of one wing of the early Christian movement that promoted women’s leadership. ..

Women’s prominence did not, however, go unchallenged. Every variety of ancient Christianity that advocated the legitimacy of women’s leadership was eventually declared heretical, and evidence of women’s early leadership roles was erased or suppressed. This erasure has taken many forms. Collections of prophetic oracles were destroyed. Texts were changed.

For example, at least one woman’s place in history was obscured by turning her into a man! In Romans 16:7, the apostle Paul sends greetings to a woman named Junia. He says of her and her male partner Andronicus that they are “my kin and my fellow prisoners, prominent among the apostles and they were in Christ before me.” Concluding that women could not be apostles, textual editors and translators transformed Junia into Junias, a man…..

Women In Ancient Christianity: The New Discoveries Karen L. King https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/first/women.html

The tragic deception of anti women’s ordination has caused so much harm throughout history and the present, even though the reality is that women worked in every spiritual leadership position and had nearly every gift of God in the Bible.  

It is because of many facts that former GC presidents, vice presidents, the majority of our SDA theologians and pastors, and the majority of our SDA members worldwide are now in support of women’s ordination as surveys have shown.  Sadly every single time critics of equality use fallacies or deceptive argument that are not based on Bible principles as is frequently done by anti-WOers, it distract and seriously reduce the time of godly people for crucial mission work to complete the Great Commission.

I and my father, a retired SDA pastor have also written several articles on the topic as well as a whole book of over 100 pages with at least ~100 Bible quotes and Ellen White statements in support of women’s ordination as well as demonstrations from science that to reject women’s ordination is a tragic support of inequality that harms lives.  2 articles are here (and more are under the “issues” menu item on this website. You can also download the book (but I’m still updating it as I have time) here:


Before you read the evidence from the Bible below, it’s important to have fair objective principles. Below are a few principles to remember.

By Bible definition, any time you use 1 rule for one group and another rule for another group, you are engaging in inequality, double standards and favoritism which the Bible says God detests and hates. Why? Inequality is the goal of greed and pride and thus is with them also the root of every evil on the planet (1 Timothy 6:10).

Ellen White writes.
“There are but few who have an appreciation of the grievous character of sin, and who comprehend the greatness of the ruin that has resulted from the transgression of God’s law.” FE 135
Science decisively shows that inequality in the church causes inequality in the home and then much more inequality in society. Inequality is a virulent evil above most others, FAR beyond the comprehension of most (see some of its terribly evil effects here: http://blog.truth-is-life.org/rights/equality/
Each reader here is a valuable person who can do great good…or great harm. And this can happen even if you are sincere and godly, but do not follow the Bible’s principles carefully. Even the president of the early church, Peter, made serious mistakes in discrimination and had to be rebuked for it by Paul. And all anti-women’s ordination thinkers are making a similar mistake, since
  1. they have to completely abandon the major principles by which God told us to find truth and avoid deceptions/fallacies/propaganda (a separate article will be posted on this in time). Instead they have set up unbiblical standards, such as unthinkingly following traditions even though Jesus said that the traditions the Pharisees set up were “vain worship” (Mark. 7:5-13)
  2. they have to abandon biblical meanings and definitions of equality and the word pastor among others, something that is forbidden as a terrible woe in Isaiah 5:20 (in Matthew 23, Jesus pronounces woes on the Pharisees as sons of hell…that’s how serious it is)
  3. it is a fact as you will see below that either directly or indirectly, the Bible mentions women working in nearly all of the top spiritual leadership offices in the church, including pastor. The only major office that I haven’t found a woman doing in the Bible yet is miracle worker. But they definitely have outside the Bible and I’ll probably eventually find one inside the Bible if I look deeply enough into the Hebrew and Greek.
 These are some introductory principles that show that women’s ordination is conclusively biblical. Don’t miss this video about how God led a Chinese woman to build a church from scratch to the largest Christian church by reading the writings of Ellen White. If God has called her, who are you to refuse ordination. Seriously.
The Bible repeatedly speaks of the importance of full equal rights for all people, Jews and Gentiles, male and female, slave and free. Historians show that it was Israel that pioneered this concept and it is Jews and Christians pioneered all major human rights. Scientists show that it is a crucial principle for stability and progress of nations. How does the Bible define equality? The Bible and dictionaries define equality as the same rules applying the same way to all groups. If at any time you are using different rules for different groups of people, you can’t claim to be following equality. There are only rare exceptions when the same rules do not apply to all groups in the Bible, and those are
A) usually for the benefit of everyone in some way.
B) sometimes due to the condescension and patience of God for stubborn and slow to learn human beings who are not ready for higher truth yet (John 16:12)
When different rules are used for different groups, they are not called equal. Here are a few samples of how equal is used in the Bible.
“Native-born Israelites and foreigners are equal before the Lord and are subject to the same decrees. This is a permanent law for you, to be observed from generation to generation.” Numbers 15:15
“To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?” asks the Holy One.” Isaiah 40:25
“Divide the land in this way for the twelve tribes of Israel: The descendants of Joseph will be given two shares of land. Otherwise each tribe will receive an equal share.” Ezekiel 47:13-14
“all of you are equal as brothers and sisters.” Matthew 23:8
“There is no longer Jew or Gentile,[a] slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28
The dictionary defines it this way:
“Having the same privileges, status, or rights: citizens equal before the law.
Being the same for all members of a group: gave every player an equal chance to win.”
So if at any time you are using different rules for different groups of people based on race or gender or anything else, you can’t claim to be following equality. This is a concrete and inviolable fact. If you deny this, you are contributing to malicious propaganda and the destruction of equality and opposing God no matter how sincere you may be.
Ellen White tells us that this is a secret of unity, something we have dire need of in our church now to finish the commission.
“The secret of unity is found in the equality of believers in Christ. The reason for all division, discord, and difference is found in separation from Christ. 1 SM 259
She says that full equality was the way we were created in the beginning and she emphasizes that we must do all we can to return to that ideal.
“When God created Eve, He designed that she should possess neither inferiority nor superiority to the man, but that in all things she should be his equal.” (TM p. 485)
[Jesus] calls upon us to…adopt principles that will restore in us the divine image. The Ministry of Healing, 114, 115.
“Woman should fill the position which God originally designed for her, as her husband’s equal…Her individuality cannot be merged in his. She should feel that she is her husband’s equal.” AH 231
Remember the difference between Protestant and Catholics ordination. As pastor George Knight explains,
A) For protestants, ordination only confirms that a person has been called and gifted by God to do a job. It’s just recognizing what God has given them ability to do.
B) For Catholics, the church does something magical and gives authority and power to a person from the church itself, due to it being given authority by God.

The most important gold standard of finding truth in the Bible by far is this one (and the concept is repeated all over the Bible.

“but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. always try to do good to each other and to all people.” 1 Thess. 5:21,15
God expects us to use and stretch the minds that we were given. Unfortunately western and eastern cultures have sometimes gone to extremes and lost the biblical balance.
Westerners focus on what is good for each person (individualism) and forget the part about doing good for the whole community. This results in gigantic scandals and crashes due to greed, such as the 2008 crash which was almost entirely due to bankers greed and caused up to 10 million people to lose their homes.
The opposite problem has happened in some eastern cultures. They focus on what is good for the community and neglect individuals. The Great Wall of China is an example of this. It did help protect the whole country from invaders. But the emperors were often very heartless in the way they went about building it. Many men spent decades away from their families and up to 1 million men died in its construction. Individuals were just pawns to build up national glory.
The Bible wisely avoids both extremes and says to make sure to think about what is best for each individual and also the entire community. The sole and only time that we should not do this is when God gives a direct revelation as to His will in a specific situation and of course if it goes against a law of God mentioned in the Bible, such as one of the 10 commandments. No matter how much good we think it might do, God’s wisdom is always better than ours.
Part of this is following the Holy Spirit’s guidance. In Acts 15, there was a church council where they decided that the Gentiles needed to follow certain laws that God gave, but not others. James and the other apostles agreed that circumcision wasn’t essential for salvation. Why did they decide this? They say uncircumcised gentiles being converted by the Holy Spirit:
“And so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.” Acts 15:19
Similarly, we have clear evidence that God’s Spirit has led women to pastor churches. Here’s a short video about a Chinese SDA female pastor, Hao Ya Jie, who is the pastor of the Beiguan Seventh-day Adventist Church in Shenyang, China, the largest SDA church in the world. She left her job to start it in her living room with just 10 people after being impressed by God while reading Ellen White’s writings to do so. Now this church has ~7,000 members. The evidence strongly suggests that God is leading in the work she and many others like her are doing similar to how He opened the early church to accepting Gentile believers. Would SDAs concerned about eternity want to reject ordination which would surely significantly reduce the number of converts brought to the truth through ordained Chinese female pastors?
See also:

Now to the main issue of this article.


Can women be spiritual leaders in the Bible? Obviously yes.
“I rescued you from Egypt, where you were slaves. I sent Moses, Aaron, and Miriam to be your leaders.” Micah 6:4
Ellen White states that Miriam was second only to Moses and Aaron in spiritual leadership which obviously means that she was higher than 99.9% of men in spiritual authority.
“Aaron and Miriam had occupied a position of high honor and leadership in Israel. Both were endowed with the prophetic gift, and both had been divinely associated with Moses in the deliverance of the Hebrews. “I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam” (Micah 6:4), are the words of the Lord by the prophet Micah…In the affections of the people and the honor of Heaven she stood second only to Moses and Aaron.” Patriarchs and Prophets p. 384-5
Can women be in authority over men? Clearly yes. Women were judges over the whole nation (Deborah) as well as queens who had authority over men (Esther and many others).
Andrews University professor Dr. Richard Davidson writes:
“In the Old Testament we see numerous women in leadership roles over men, thus confirming Genesis 1. Witness Deborah (Judges 4 and 5), one of the judges over the people of Israel– women and men. Witness the leadership role of Miriam (Exod 15:20-21), Huldah (2 Kgs 22:13-14; 2 Chr 34:22-28), Esther, and others (e.g., Exod 38:8; 1 Sam 2:22; 2 Kings 8:1-6; Ps 68:11; Jer 31:22). In the Old Testament we see numerous women in leadership roles over men, thus confirming Genesis 1. Witness Deborah (Judges 4 and 5), one of the judges over the people of Israel– women and men. Witness the leadership role of Miriam (Exod 15:20-21), Huldah (2 Kgs 22:13-14; 2 Chr 34:22-28), Esther, and others (e.g., Exod 38:8; 1 Sam 2:22; 2 Kings 8:1-6; Ps 68:11; Jer 31:22).”
The Bible Supports the Ordination/Commissioning of Women as Pastors and Local Church Elders”, Dr. Richard Davidson, J. N. Andrews Professor of Old Testament Interpretation, and Chair, Old Testament Department, Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University.
Many conservatives quote Paul’s instructions that women should be veiled and silent in church. There are 3 problems with this.
A) Conservatives do not follow what Paul actually said about silence and veils. They do not demand that women be totally silent in church at all. They simply aren’t following what Paul ACTUALLY said there.

B) Conservatives twist that verse into a claim that is nowhere in the Bible. They don’t do what Paul ACTUALLY says and they DO try to impose a law on people that Paul never spoke or mentioned anywhere at all. Paul does not anywhere say that a woman can’t be ordained. NOWHERE. So conservatives do not follow what Paul actually said and invent a whole new tradition that women should not be ordained, something that he did not say anywhere. They are like king Saul who claimed to obey God while rebelling or or the son in the parable of the two sons that said he would do what the father asked but didn’t. Conservatives get the Bible 180 degrees backwards.

C) Women spoke with spiritual authority from time to time in the Bible, in both OT and NT. So it’s quite clear that Paul’s words are not general principles for all times and places, but due to local cultural issues which are well documented in history. In Roman and Greek times, it was a huge scandal for a woman to speak out in public, and a woman without a veil was often a prostitute. This is why Paul said what he said to that culture and it’s very understandable considering the context.

See some documentation of this at this site. See esp. the statements by Dr. Mary Beard of Cambridge.

If you read through scripture, the spiritual gifts and offices that God gave to the church are listed quite clearly. And there are women representatives in the very top positions as will be demonstrated below.
Nowhere does the Bible say that any spiritual leadership position is limited to men. There is not even one verse on that.
“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all…All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church:first are apostles,second are prophets,third are teachers, then those who do miracles,those who have the gift of healing,those who can help others,those who have the gift of leadership,those who speak in unknown languages. 1 Corinthians 12:4-27-28
“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.  Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11,12
Note again that there are no restrictions on gender for any of these gifts anywhere in scripture.
More importantly we see women in various places in the Bible leading in nearly all these positions, including the very highest.
Paul writes about a woman apostle, Junia in Romans 16:7
“Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews, who were in prison with me. They are highly respected among the apostles and became followers of Christ before I did.” Romans 16:7 
In the 2nd century, Clement of Alexandria wrote that the apostles were accompanied on their missionary journeys by women who were not marriage partners, but colleagues,
“that they might be their fellow-ministers in dealing with housewives. It was through them that the Lord’s teaching penetrated also the women’s quarters without any scandal being aroused. We also know the directions about women deacons which are given by the noble Paul in his letter to Timothy.”
Was that perhaps the role of Junia? She was mentioned by Paul in Romans 16 as “of note among the apostles.” Some have debated the meaning of this verse, but early tradition holds that Junia was a woman and was considered an apostle. John Chrysostom wrote: “Indeed, to be an apostle at all is a great thing; but to be even amongst those of note; just consider what a great encomium that is … Oh, how great is the devotion of this woman, that she should even be counted worthy of the appellation of apostle.”
Until the Middle Ages, the identity of Junia as a female apostle was unquestioned. Later translators attempted to change the gender by changing the name to the masculine Junias. But such a name is unknown in antiquity; and there is absolutely no literary, epigraphical or papyrological evidence for it.
Some middle ages manuscripts change this name to Junias, reflecting deep corruption from the misogynistic Greeks who degraded almost everything related to women (see: http://blog.truth-is-life.org/human-rights/god-led-womens-rights/)
But scholars agree that all early manuscripts have the female name Junia.

“no commentator prior to the 13th century questioned that this apostle was a woman.1 For example, John Chrysostom, whose writings often express misogyny, wrote of Romans 16:7,

“O how great is the devotion of this woman that she should be counted worthy of the appellation of apostle!”2

This unanimity of testimony over a milennium is particularly striking since it remained during a long period of eroding toleration of women’s ministries in the medieval church. The reason for the witness is simple: all the ancient Greek and Latin manuscripts commending the outstanding apostles in Romans 16:7 read either “Junia” or “Julia”, both feminine forms. ”

There were over a dozen women who were prophetesses in the Bible. Deborah was particularly incredible. She was the top spiritual leader in the nation, a leader of the army 4:6-9, 5:15, a judge, a general a respected mother in Israel (5:7) and more. OT women were more equal to men than modern women are in some ways.
OLD TESTAMENT: Miriam (Exod. 15:20, Numbers 12:2), Deborah (Judg. 4:4), Huldah (2 Kings 22:14; 2 Chron. 34:22), Noadiah (Neh. 6:14), and “the prophetess” (Isa. 8:3). Rabbis said in taught in Megillah (14a), that there were seven prophetesses in Israel: “Our Rabbis taught: Forty-eight prophets and seven prophetesses prophesied to Israel. . . . ‘Seven prophetesses’. Who were these? – Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, Huldah and Esther.”
NEW TESTAMENT: Anna(Luke 2:25-27,38), Philips 4 unmarried daughters (Acts 21:8-9)
“The prophetess Anna (Luke 2:36-38) was the very first person to proclaim Jesus as Israel’s promised Redeemer…The woman of Samaria brought her entire city to Christ by her testimony (John 4:28-42). She told the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Isn’t this the Messiah?” (v. 29) Verse 39 tells us, “Many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the woman’s word, who testified, ‘He told me everything I ever did.'”
This woman not only testified of her own experience, she also urged the townspeople to meet Jesus for themselves. They did so; and as a result, “Many more believed because of His own word, and said to the woman, ‘Now we believe, not because of your word, because we have heard Him ourselves and know that this is indeed the Messiah, the Saviour of the world.'” (v. 42) This is evangelism at its most successful–bringing about the conversion of a city as people come to a first-hand experience of personal faith in Jesus Christ….

After His resurrection triumph, Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary Salome and other women with them and personally directed them to proclaim His resurrection to the rest of the disciples. Significantly, all four of the gospels record this. The women’s commission was a double one, as angels also appeared to them with the same message and directive.” https://godswordtowomen.org/evangelists.htm

Most people think there were no women pastors in the Bible. But Greek scholars have shown that this is not true. There almost certainly were. And not just one, there were several female house church pastors mentioned in the Bible as well as the early church.

These 2 articles by Greek scholars make this quite clear and decisive.
“…we do know that both men and women provided spiritual leadership for churches which met in their homes. In the early church, almost all Christian meetings were held in private homes. Among these house-church pastors was Mary, the mother of John Mark, who later became a missionary with the apostles Paul and Barnabas. It was to her house church that Peter came in Acts 12:12 after an angelic visitor set him free from prison. The Bible says that many had assembled there and were praying, no doubt petitioning God for Peter’s release. Their prayers were answered!

Another house church leader was Chloe, according to I. Corinthians 1:11. In that passage, Paul relates that “some of Chloe’s household ” had reported that there was strife among the Corinthian Christians. Those Chloe sent with this message to Paul were probably Christians who were members of her house church. They may have been relatives or household servants, or they may have been Christians who lives in the area and gathered at her home for worship.
These believers would have come under Chloe’s spiritual guidance, care and protection. But Chloe’s influence extended beyond her own flock. Evidently, she had sent a deputation from her house church to Paul, who knew her or knew of her, to inform him of the need for correction in the Corinthian church. She was a trusted leader and source of reliable information for the apostle Paul.

Acts 16:14-15, 40 tells us about Lydia, Paul’s first European convert to Jesus, who offered Paul hospitality in her home. Scripture relates that when Lydia was converted, her entire household was baptized and that her home became the first meeting place for European Christians.
Lydia was a business woman who traded in valuable, dyed garments. The fact that Scripture mentions no husband or father indicates the high prominence of this woman. Since first-century Greek and Roman women were almost always under the legal guardianship of a husband or father, Lydia may well have been a wealthy widow or only daughter who inherited her parents’ estate. Thus, she became the head of her own household. She either managed the family business or developed a business of her own after her husband’s or father’s death.

The Book of Acts says that Lydia’s entire household was baptized upon her conversion to Christ. This follows the custom of ancient Roman families. Under paganism, household gods were believed to protect and help the family and its enterprises. Thus, it was the duty of members of these households, relatives, slaves, and their families to worship the gods adopted by the head of the household.
Roman households were often large since almost all businesses were home-based before the industrial age. Those who worked for Lydia in her business, and possibly others engaging in the trade who belonged to the dye-makers guild, would have been among her converts. By virtue of her position as head of household, Lydia had the opportunity and responsibility to lead all of its members to Christ and then to establish and lead them in the faith. This put her in a similar position to the modern-day pastor. To fulfill part of this responsibility, Lydia invited Paul to come and preach in her home.
Another New Testament woman who led a house church was Nympha (Col. 4:15). Paul sent greetings to her and to the church at her house. Some modern scholars try to get around this by saying that Nympha was “just” the hostess, not the pastor. If that were so, who did pastor her house church, and why would Paul so rudely fail to greet the pastor as well as the hostess?The brief, personal letter II John is addressed to a church and its pastor, a woman with whom the apostle John evidently had warm ties. John opens the letter, “to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth. . .” “Children” was a term of endearment that John used for Christian believers. (I. John 2:1, 12, 18, 28). “Truth” was a term John often used in his writings for the revelation of Jesus (See, for example, John 1:14, 17; 8:32; 16:13; I. John 1:6-8; 2:4, 21; 3:19; II. John 4; III John 3-4.)The word “elect,” while it usually refers to believers as chosen by God for salvation, can also be used to refer to the ordained clergy. The second-century church father Clement of Alexandria does this repeatedly in his Stromata book 6, chapter 13. John’s use of these terms plus the general tone of the letter with its pastoral direction as in verse 10 demonstrate that II John was written to a Christian church, not just a family. This brief letter closes by conveying a greeting from the church of another woman-“the children of your elect sister greet you.” This woman was evidently their pastor since John again uses the term “children” which in his writings means Christians under the care of a spiritual leader. Also, he calls her “elect” which either means ordained or chosen.
Dr. Catherine Kroeger is chaplain and lecturer in the department of religion at Hamilton College in New Hartford, N.Y. Her doctorate is in classical studies and Greek, with a specialization in women in ancient religion, especially women and the ecclesiology of the Apostle Paul. She writes about the history of women leading churches in the Bible and early church. Her research shows that it is quite likely that Phoebe was a church pastor or overseer as were some other women in the early church.
“Paul also mentions Phoebe in Romans 16, “a deacon of the church at Cenchreae.” He calls her a prostatis or overseer. This term in its masculine form, prostates, was used later by the Apostolic Fathers to designate the one presiding over the Eucharist. And Paul uses the same verb, the passive of ginomai (to be or become), as he uses in Colossians 1:23: “I was made a minister.” In the passive, the verb sometimes indicated ordination or appointment to an office. Thus one might legitimately translate Paul’s statement about Phoebe: “For she has been appointed, actually by my own action, an officer presiding over many.” The church in Rome is asked to welcome her and assist her in the church’s business…
About 112 A.D., the Roman governor Pliny the Younger detailed his efforts to cope with the nascent church in Bithynia. He had found it necessary to interrogate the leaders, two slave women called ministrae, or deacons. These women apparently followed in the tradition of Phoebe.”
According to the 3rd- century text of The Acts of Paul, Thecla, a noblewoman, was converted while listening to the preaching of the apostle. Forsaking her old life, she followed Paul and endured persecution, tribulation and great peril….After her itineration through Asia Minor with the Apostle Paul, she settles near Seleucia, where she teaches, preaches, heals and baptizes…William M. Ramsay maintained that The Acts of Paul contained an authentic 1st century account, which had been outrageously embellished by the 3rd-century deacon.
“Widows were clearly part of the ordained clergy in the Testament of Our Lord Jesus Christ, a 5th-century reworking of earlier material from Hippolytus’s Apostolic Tradition….
Women As Elders The feminine form of “presbyter” or elder occurs frequently, though it is often translated simply as “old woman.” At times the term certainly refers to women who were part of the clergy. The Cappadocian father, Basil, uses presbytera apparently in the sense of a woman who is head of a religious community. Also applied to women is the term presbutis, “older woman” or “eldress.” The old woman who instructed Hermas is called presbytis…
Dionysius of Alexandria, who died in 264 A.D., described a martyr as “the most holy eldress Mercuria” and another as “a most remarkable virgin eldress Apollonia.”…
Pseudo-Ignatius’s Letter to the Tarsians commands that those who continue in virginity be honored as priestesses of Christ. The eldresses of Titus 2:3 must be “hieroprepeis,” a term that inscriptional evidence suggests should be translated “like a priestess,” or “like those employed in sacred service.”
…The Cappadocian Gregory of Nazianzus wrote to Gregory of Nyssa about Theosebia, “the pride of the church, the ornament of Christ, the finest of our generation, the free speech of women, Theosebia, the most illustrious among the brethren, outstanding in beauty of soul. Theosebia, truly a priestly personage, the colleague of a priest, equally honored and worthy of the great sacraments.”
…The walls of the Roman catacombs bear pictures showing women in authoritative stances, with their hands raised in the posture of a bishop.”
The Neglected History of Women in the Early Church
www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-17/neglected-history-of-women-in-early-church.htmlSee also: http://www.faithdefenders.com/Articles/Church-Life/Women-Elders-in-the-Early-Church.aspx
Paul instructs Titus, that women should teach others what is good.
“Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers.[a] Instead, they should teach others what is good.” Titus 2:3.
A woman was instrumental in teaching Apollos gospel truths.
“When Priscilla and Aquila heard him preaching boldly in the synagogue, they took him aside and explained the way of God even more accurately.” Acts 18:26
Several women held positions of leadership and responsibility in the early church: Mary, Dorcas, Julia, Lydia, Persis, Priscilla, Phoebe, Tryphena and Tryphosa, etc. ( Acts 1:12-14, 9:36, 16:14, 18:24-26, 21:7-9, Romans 16:1-16).G)
Did women ever offer sacrifices to God? Some scholars do disagree, but because of neuter language used in the Hebrew, a number of theologians agree that women were involved in the sacrificial ceremony at least in the family sacrifice and possibly the temple sacrifices as well.Professor G Braulik writes about the scholar Ismar J Peritz who in 1898 wrote,
“That women brought sacrifice in old Israel and also in later time is so evident that an attempt to prove it seems an act of supererogation.”) His observations culminated in the conclusion “that in the act of sacrifice women enjoyed equal rights with men.’.4
Braulik concludes a survey of the research saying:
“according to Deuteronomy both men and women were allowed to be in charge of the sacrificial liturgy of their families. Yet, we do not know to what extent the Deuteronomic sacrificial and festal theory of women having equal rights and being active in the cult, too, has come true or remained a utopian programme. The cultic legislation of the Priestly Code, which now precedes this Deuteronomic theory in the direction of reading the canonical Pentateuch, probably did not contradict this right of women. Recently Mayer I Gruber could namely prove sex-neutral language as being characteristic of the Priestly Code. It may use the terms il.~j and t:i~ in the sense of “person” in its cultic regulations, so that both men and women were allowed to carry out the liturgical acts. 102
Were women, too, allowed to offer sacrifices in Israel? Observations on the meaning and festive form of sacrifice in Deuteronomy by G Braulik
We have Bible examples above of women working in nearly every spiritual leadership role that the Bible lists for the church. What then would be a good reason for excluding women from being ordained as pastors to manage churches? This is especially pertinent when Ellen White specifically said that women should be pastors, that they were sometimes better than men in managing churches and that she had no problem with a woman, Lulu Wightman, and other women, being paid as SDA pastors. Pastor Lulu Wightman proved Ellen White’s words true. She was the most effective pastor of the New York Conference and there were other women pastors at the time of Ellen White as well.
Evidence below and in another article shows that by Bible definition, Ellen White definition, Bible concordances, by modern dictionary definitions and in 1800s dictionary definitions, the term pastor can mean ONLY two things. Not three. Not four. Only two.
A) A minister in charge of a church.
B) A shepherd in charge of sheep.
If you change definitions, you are doing what the Jews did in changing the definition of the Messiah, an act which caused them to not recognize Jesus as the Messiah when He came. Changing definition is a commonly used propaganda tactic of deceivers and exploiters and God condemns it in the most serious terms (remember that those who Jesus pronounced woes on in Matthew 23 were called sons of hell):
“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”Isaiah 5:20
This is not something to play around with at all. Yet people often change the meaning of words to support conservative or liberal views. As soon as you do that, you have given up truth seeking for propaganda. This has harmed millions of people’s lives and sometimes ruined entire nations.
There is another  woman in the Bible who might have been a manager of a church. It is Phoebe since she is called diakanos, just like Paul is. This is explained here.
Let’s look at some definitions a little more. What do the words pastor and minister mean? Dictionaries clearly state that they refer to a person in charge of a church, sort of its chief executive officer. And this is also the way it is used in the Bible.
Pastor: a spiritual overseer; especially : a clergyman serving a local church or parish
pastor: A minister in charge of a Christian church or congregation, especially in some non-episcopal churches.
1. A shepherd; one that has the care of flocks and herds.
2. A minister of the gospel who has the charge of a church and congregation, whose duty is to watch over the people of his charge, and instruct them in the sacred doctrines of the Christian religion.
minister: One who serves at the altar; one who performs sacerdotal duties; the pastor of a church, duly authorized or licensed to preach the gospel and administer the sacraments.
Also note that according to the White Estate:
“For Ellen White the ministers in ‘the generally-accepted sense of the word’ were men appointed by the conference as licensed ministers or ordained ministers.
What does EGW say about pastors?

“It is the accompaniment of the Holy Spirit of God that prepares workers, both men and women, to become pastors to the flock of God.” Ellen White, TM 6:322
That pastor can ONLY mean a minister in charge of a church. As shown some above (another post will go into this in more depth), nothing else is justified biblically, theologically or linguistically. Nothing.)
“Young men and young women who should be engaged in the ministry, in Bible work, and in the canvassing work should not be bound down to mechanical employment. The youth should be encouraged to attend our training schools for Christian workers, which should become more and more like the schools of the prophets. These institutions have been established by the Lord, and if they are conducted in harmony with His purpose, the youth sent to them will quickly be prepared to engage in various lines of missionary work. Some will be trained to enter the field as missionary nurses, some as canvassers, and some as gospel ministers.” (8T 229)
Note here that there is a clear distinction between the ministry, Bible work, canvassing work, and missionary nurses. Each is a separate job. She talks about the young men and women as youth (youth by definition includes people of BOTH sexes). Some of these youth (both sexes) will be trained as gospel ministers. The paragraph is very linguistically clear that young men or women can be trained as gospel ministers.
“There are women who should labor in the gospel ministry. In many respects they would do more good than the ministers who neglect to visit the flock of God.” Evangelism, 472. Manuscript 43a, 1898
Here again, EGW makes it clear that women can lead the church. One pastor has read through Ellen White’s writings and found that the term “in the gospel ministry” is used exclusively of people who are in charge of a church.
“It is not always men who are best adapted to the successful management of a church. If faithful women have more deep piety and true devotion than men, they could indeed by their prayers and their labors do more than men who are unconsecrated in heart and in life.—Manuscript Releases 19:56..” (Pastoral Ministry, p. 36).
EGW was very concerned about misappropriating tithe and spoke on it several times.
“If a man is worthy of his hire, so also is a woman. Make no mistake in neglecting to correct the error of giving ministers less than they should receive. When you see persons in necessity who have been placed in positions of trust, let God move upon your heart to set things right. The tithe should go to those who labor in word and doctrine, be they men or women.” (MR 149, 1899, 3).
This is not just something recent. It happened in the past at the time of Ellen White as well. And she very well knew that women were working as fully licensed pastors of churches and made no moves to stop it. Clearly God’s Spirit is quite satisfied with this state of things. Bert Haloviak has written:
“The most effective pastor for years in New York was a woman pastor. Mrs. Lulu Wightman {was such an outstanding pastor} that the results from her evangelism would rank her not only as the most outstanding evangelist in New York State during her time, but among the most successful within the denomination for any time period. As a licensed minister, Mrs. Wightman pioneered work that established companies or churches in a number of places in New York State where Adventism had never gained a foothold before. Between 1896 and 1905, Mrs. Wightman raised up churches.in Hornellsville, Gas Springs, Wallace, Silver Creek, Geneva, Angola, Gorham, ~Gedonia, Avoca, Rushville, Canandaigua, and Penn Yan. After her husband was licensed in 1903, they jointly established churches in Avon, Lakeville, Hemlock, South Livonia and Bath. The ministry of Mrs. Wightman was rich and can be methodologically pursued at length merely by reading the local newspapers in places where she held evangelistic meetings.
In conclusion, all relevant Bible evidence and principles, evidence from Ellen White, evidence from dictionaries and much more support the concept of women being ordained as leaders of churches. Those who follow God and his principles of what is good for all people not just blindly follow conservative views or liberal views, but the views that are based on evidence, facts, truth and proof, especially what is “good for each person and all people” 1 Thess. 5:15.