I put the story of Huldah up because God didn’t tell women to check their brains at the door or have men rule over their conscience and from voicing their proclamation of the whole counsel of God. Contrary to popular opinion, women are not forbidden to question the teachings of men or pointing out their inconsistencies.
I didn’t realize that asking valid questions to discuss certain issues to better understand them was sinful. There are women who are approached by men with teachings that are not Biblically sound and mature women in the faith will let the error be known. The “Christian brothers” will side with the sisters and praise them for their Scriptural stand, however, when inconsistencies are shown on their part as well, all of a sudden these same women they praised previously are now chastised by these brothers and 1 Tim. 2:12 is shoved upon them and in some cases called “Jezebel”. So we have their stamp of approval when we defend the faith and prove what is false with other men as long as it does not involve them? Isn’t this called a “double standard?”
Yes, her name is Huldah. You might not be familiar with her, but she is mentioned in the Bible. Most likely you have never heard of her in any sermons. If you want to know anything about her, you’ll have to read the Bible for yourself.
Does anyone know that Huldah was the first woman to practice textual criticism on the Bible? She was the first person to interpret its text for men in power! Wow, I wonder if she was ever slapped with 1 Tim. 2:12 and called a Jezebel?
Huldah was called a “prophet.” She was a prophetess as well as Miriam, Deborah, and Isaiah’s wife, but we don’t hear much about Huldah. She is mentioned in 1 Kings 22 and repeated in 2 Chronicles 34. She was the key player in Judah’s history. During Josiah reign, the nation of Israel was in need of a revival in recovering its rootage. The temple was being repaired when workers found a scroll. The workers brought the scroll to Josiah for him to read. Josiah became grief-stricken and tore his clothes.
2 Kings 22:11 And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes.
12 And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Michaiah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asahiah a servant of the king’s, saying,
13 Go ye, enquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us.
King Josiah sends the men listed in verse 12 to “enquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah.” He needed to determine what “the words of this book that is found” actually meant. He needed an interpretation, so he sent his men, most likely to talk to God’s man, except that man turned out to be a woman.
14 So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college;) and they communed with her.
Notice that Huldah is called a prophetess and that she is married. Did God call her? Would God call a prophetess against the will of her husband? Did Shallum think he was blessed to have such a wife or did he sulk in a corner because “women should know their place”?
15 And she said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Tell the man that sent you to me,
“Thus saith the LORD God of Israel” – this woman was speaking for God, and she was speaking to men in authority. I personally think it’s a hoot that she says, “Tell the man that sent you to me.” That man was King Josiah! But compared to her communion with God, she was obviously not impressed who this man was.
16 Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read:
Huldah, a woman, interpreted the scripture and pronounced God’s judgment.
17 Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore my wrath shall be kindled against this place, and shall not be quenched.
18 But to the king of Judah which sent you to enquire of the LORD, thus shall ye say to him, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, As touching the words which thou hast heard;
19 Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the LORD, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the LORD.
20 Behold therefore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place. And they brought the king word again.
Huldah “authorizes” the Book. She declares the words of the Book to truly be the words of God. For the first time in recorded history, a writing is declared to be scripture. And Huldah, the female prophetess, was the one to do it!
Those men never doubted Huldah’s authority or pronouncement. They promptly returned to the King and told him all.
“The authority to pass judgment on this initial entry into the canon was given to a woman. At the beginning of the Bible we find Huldah; in her we discover the first scripture authority . . . How could we have lost sight of her all these years” (Swidler, p. 1783)
Look at the context of Huldah’s story. Josiah had blamed Judah in the past because of their fathers (II Kings 22:13). But Huldah rebuked those in the present (II Kings 22:17) for forsaking God.
And Huldah not only declared the authenticity of the Book, but she also interpreted its words. She prophesied against that present generation.
This passage and its sister passage in Chronicles, indicate three things.
- The King and the High Priest recognized Huldah as a legitimate authority to speak for the Lord God of Israel.
- Huldah had the authority to endorse the Book as God’s words.
- Huldah had the authority to interpret those words and apply them to that present situation – both to men and the nation.
What do conservative Christians do with Huldah? They ignore her. What authority God gave that woman! There is another woman who had authority.
Esther 9:29 Then Esther the queen, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew, wrote with all authority, to confirm this second letter of Purim.
Conservative Christians often do not have a biblical view of women in the ministry because they do not study the roles that women actually had in the Bible. Many actually believe and teach the women are not to have authority over men in any area of life – secular or religious. That belief, however, cannot be supported by scripture. For that matter, where it concerns the body of Christ, no one has any authority over another.
Yes, Huldah is such an important figure, but she is all but forgotten. Her fellow prophetess Deborah is also overlooked. Why? I believe that good men have misinterpreted key passages concerning women in the Body of Christ.
Now, I am a Bible Believer. Paul is clear that shepherds/elders are to be men. As far as women preaching, there is no prohibition against such. Being a preacher is not the same as being a shepherd/elder. Does not a woman “preach” every time she witnesses? Shouldn’t a woman with knowledge of the scripture be allowed to teach ANYONE who is willing to learn? (When one thinks about women preaching, the mental picture is of a woman behind a pulpit. God’s will and function for the ecclesia does not involve pulpits, stained glass windows, sound systems, pews, or elaborate buildings with a huge overhead. See: Leaving the Institutional Church)
Just men, or men and women?
Anyone who has been taught English grammar correctly knows that words like ‘man’ and very often even ‘he’ are gender inclusive words – they refer to both genders, not males only.
Gender inclusive language is all through the Bible. We ladies would be in trouble if this verse was only about males.
“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
LET’S LOOK AT GALATIANS 6:1-7 TO REALIZE THAT WORDS LIKE “BRETHREN”/”MAN”/”HIMSELF” ETC., TO NOT MERELY REFER TO MALES ONLY, BUT TO MALES AND FEMALES ALIKE NORMALLY:
“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” (Does this verse apply to men only or also to women? The answer is that it applies to BOTH men and woman.)
“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” (Does this verse apply to men only or also to women? The answer is that it applies to BOTH men and woman.)
“For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.” (Does this verse apply to men only or also to women? The answer is that it applies to BOTH men and woman.)
“But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.” (Does this verse apply to men only or also to women? The answer is that it applies to BOTH men and woman.)
“For every man shall bear his own burden.” (Does this verse apply to men only or also to women? The answer is that it applies to BOTH men and woman.)
“Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.” (Does this verse apply to men only or also to women? The answer is that it applies to BOTH men and woman.)
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Does this verse apply to men only or also to women? The answer is that it applies to BOTH men and woman.)
NOW LET’S LOOK AT 1 CORINTHIANS 12:1-14 TO TRY AND UNDERSTAND HOW GOD USES BOTH MEN AND WOMEN IN THE BODY OF CHRIST TO FULFILL HIS MIGHTY PLANS.
“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.” (Is Paul addressing males only in this verse or are women included and do women have spiritual gifts too?)
“Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.” (Is Paul addressing male Gentiles only, or both male and female?)
“Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” (Is Paul addressing males only here, or are women included?)
“Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.”
(Is Paul addressing males only in these verses, or are women included? Does the Holy Spirit give spiritual gifts to women? Does “all in all” include women?)
“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” (Does this verse apply to men only or also to women? )
Vs. 12, 13, 14
“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.” (Women are also obviously members of the Body of Christ.)
LOOK AT WHAT PAUL SAID EARLIER IN THE BOOK OF 1 CORINTHIANS, WHERE HE MENTIONS THAT THERE ARE CLEARLY BOTH MEN AND WOMEN PRAYING AND PROPHESYING IN THE ASSEMBLY.
1 Corinthians 11:4
Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.
NOW LET’S JUMP TO CHAPTER 14 AND LOOK AT THE FOLLOWING VERSES TO LEARN IF MEN AND WOMEN BOTH ARE BLESSED WITH SPIRITUAL GIFTS AND PROPHECY:
1 Corinthians 14:1
“Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.” (This verse is about both men and women.)
“Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the assembly.” (For men only or for women as well?)
If therefore the whole assembly be come together into one place, . . . But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: (Of course here we see as well that both men and women alike can prophecy.)
1 Corinthians 14:27
“If any man speak . . .” (Paul is addressing ALL members of the assembly. In this chapter he lists the rules for speaking in tongues, which apply to both men and women.)
We come to a pivotal passage in 1 Corinthians 14:34. This passage is so abused to try and force women to be silent.
1 Corinthians 14:34-35
“Let your women keep silence in the assemblies: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the assembly.”
Prior to this Paul talked about spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues and prophesy for edification and exhortation. In v. 24 he says, “but if ALL prophesy.” He did not distinguish between genders. His message was to the entire body of Christ, and he gave the order of how it is to be done because God is not the author of confusion. But as seen in the verse above, there seems to be a wrench thrown in the midst. Why all of a sudden is it a shame for women to speak in the assembly after what he just told them? What is also important to notice and is often overlooked is that the reference is to married women. What about the widows? What about the single women? Somehow something is not making sense here.
We must not forget why Paul is writing to them. In chapters 1-4 Paul writes about his ministry, reproof, and his visit. In chapters 5-6 he writes about what he heard and the things going on with these believers at Corinith. Now when we get to chapters 7-14, he is responding to questions and statements of what they WROTE to him. Note:
- 1Corinthians 7:1 Now concerning things whereof YOU WROTE UNTO ME…
- 1Corinthians 8:1 Now concerning things offered unto idols…
- 1Corinthians 12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts… (Which does not say the nine gifts are only given to men.)
Please read 1 Cor. 14, verses 1-33 once again. Now when we get to verse 34, notice the sudden shift.
One of the things we must realize is that Paul was coming against Jewish legalism. Jesus’ worst enemies were the Pharisees and Sadducees because they had man-made traditions that went against the word of God. They did not permit women to teach in the assemblies or to even ask questions.
Now, what a majority of males have done is twist this to mean that all women are to learn from the males and just shut up.
Here is something else we must notice. Before v. 34, Paul had been speaking to the women and men and how believers are to function in the body of Christ where it concerned spiritual gifts.
What I believe in v.34 is that Paul continued to address the letter written to him, and he is shocked. In other words, what he said in verse 34 did not originate with him! What he has just quoted was not a command of God to Paul to the assembly. He was reading something these people made up! I will prove it to you. Read this verse carefully.
“Let your women be silence in the assemblies: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them as their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the assembly.”(vs. 34-35)
Here is the challenge. Where in the OT law does it say women have to be silent? WHAT LAW?
Paul knows there is no such law and is SHOCKED by what he is reading. How do we know? After Paul finishes reading he says,
Now either he lost his mind and is talking to himself, or he is questioning what he just stated.
“What? Came the word of God out from you? Or came it unto you only? If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” (v. 36-37)
Paul read about what they had to say about women and is asking if this commandment came from them. (“Also saith the law.”) It certainly came from them. It was something they made up! Paul knew it did not come from God and he let them know it. In v. 36 Paul says what he writes is from God and that they should listen to him rather than spread this false teachings.
In Chapter 12-15 Paul tells us how God wants men and women to operate in the Spirit when they are assembled together. If the women were to keep silent then he would have never included them in the matter of prophesy, praying in tongues, and interpretation. This is not to mention that Paul wants ALL to seek the gift of prophesy.
Authority in General When Sharing the Word of God
What I find interesting concerns the word “authority.” Some people seem to have this idea that a person must have many titles attached to his name or some ordination in order to be “authoritative” when it comes to expounding on the word of God. All Christians have their authority from Jesus – not in the sense to rule over anyone, but his/her responsibility to teach others about Christ. No Christian needs titles, ordination, and letters of recommendation to instruct others in the word of God.
God will not contradict Himself, but yet people will take isolated verses and give their own interpretation even if it contradicts the word of God on the whole. I have read comments such as:
“How can the women know the truth when the men can’t stand up for it? Before long, the women are using facebook as their pulpit, teaching men and rebuking them and say they need no longer a covering or head and man has no authority.”
Note that the above comment has nothing to do with Scriptures, but only with the Traditional Institutional Church mind-set that has been passed on for centuries. (See “Who Is Your Covering?”)
“Godly women who can keep silent who is patient, obedient, meek, gentle and most of all puts faith and trust in the Word speaks much more louder than a woman who thinks she has to have the last word, and has to teach the ignorant man and show him his error.
“Women shouldn’t be teaching because they are easily deceived.”
It is obvious that men can be easily deceived just as much as women. It doesn’t take a lot of reflection to realize this truth.
I am amazed at all the twisting of Scripture about women and are now applying it to a woman’s activity on such means of communication as Facebook. I didn’t realize the Christian men had the authority to rule Christian women on Facebook.
Nowhere in the word of God does He forbid a woman (single or married, and those wives with unsaved husbands) to keep their mouth shut in the sense that they are forbidden to use every opportunity, by any means of communication, to not let sin go un-rebuked and witness to men. Maybe they should keep their focus off the other man’s wife and read how the body of Christ is supposed to function together as a family.
Scriptures show ALL Christians, which include men and women, are verbally allowed to spread the gospel message and speak in the assembly.
“How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.” 1Co_14:26
ALL Christians, men and women, are to contend for the faith.
Jude 1:3-4 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Word to the ladies: If you have ever been harassed by and wrongfully accused by certain men who tell you the ‘women keep silent and do not speak’ verses in order to try and keep you from sharing God’s truths, then I hope this Biblically meaty article encourages you to gently help show such men that this is clearly not the Lord’s will, and that God instead fully desires for women to share the Gospel and contend for the faith. I hope this article has helped reveal even more clearly to you the wonderful way that God has used faithful women in the past and up to today for His amazing and mighty purposes.
To the men: I hope you will speak the truth in love with any man that you might know who struggles with this subject and have been led to believe that only men are to contend for the faith while women are not to. I believe this is important because such men are seeking to hinder some faithful women of God from sharing truths and are thereby causing false gospels to spread among the lost and thereby jeopardizing more souls to hell.
We have God’s authority to preach boldly and confidently and are commanded to do so. It does not take a Bible degree and great education – it just takes the power of the Holy Spirit, knowledge of His truths, and a heart that truly loves God and man.