It is often said that one reason we cannot have women as elders in the church is because Jesus did not select any women as one of the twelve apostles. But is this a fair argument?
Jesus, Radical and Wise
While Jesus was radical is His approach, He was wise too. He did not have a lot of time and women were restricted in ways that would take generations to change. In His day, the males were trained in the Scriptures far more than the females and men were culturally accepted to be listened to much more than women were. Also, it would have appeared very inappropriate in His day to have a team that comprised of both genders living together as He and His apostles needed to.
As a basis for the selection of church elders, the argument that Jesus never chose a female apostle to be among the twelve is clearly biased too, because He also never chose a Gentile and yet we are happy to have Gentile elders. Just as Gentile elders are not disproved by Jesus choice of 12 Jews as His apostles, neither are women. The basis for Gentile selection as elders is found elsewhere in God’s word and so is the basis for female selection as elders.
Clearly, having Gentiles or women as the main apostolic witnesses to all that He said and did would have been untimely and would have frustrated more than helped the cause. In short, He chose Jewish men simply because they had the cultural access needed to speak in the Temple and synagogues that neither women nor Gentiles had.
Jesus Empowered Women
Jesus’ approach toward women was very radical and would help pave the way for their eventual full emancipation and participation. He began ringing changes by teaching women both publicly and privately and commissioning them with messages to share to men and women, none more profound than the announcement of the resurrection which He gave to Mary Magdalene to share with the apostles.
The full outworking of God’s principles toward women has its foundation in Christ. Galatians 3:28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”