Some Scriptural References Applicable
to the Question of the Ordination of Women

[From   Go to Archives near bottom of top page.] 

Compiled with a Brief Commentary

by the Rev. Dr. Louis R. Tarsitano, Rector, St. Andrew's, Savannah

From the Pastoral Epistles

1) 1 Timothy 3:1-4

1 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;

4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (KJV)

[While "man" is "tis," which may be used generally as "anyone," the rest of the passage makes clear by "husband" and "ruleth well his own house" (since such rulership is biblically male) that only males are eligible.]

2) 1 Timothy 3:8-12

8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;

9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.

10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.

11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.

12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. (KJV)

[The "likewise" refers to the passage above, reinforcing the male requirement that deacons be "husbands" with grave "wives" who "rule" their households well. This passage does not prohibit deaconesses, who constitute a different office within the Church: compare Phebe (Romans 16:1), who would otherwise be an example of the generic use of "servant" or fill a different sort of office; and the legislation regarding deaconesses at Nicaea (Canon 19), which treats deaconesses separately from the men.]

3) 2 Timothy 3:1-8

1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,

7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. (KJV)

[Note that the proper ministry is compared to Moses (male) and the false to the Egyptian magicians Jannes and Jambres (also male). "For of this sort" refers to men (anthropoi) who mislead women and teach them to disobey the God-given "form of godliness": the order of the Christian Church.]

Titus 1:5-9

5 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:

6 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.

7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;

8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;

9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. (KJV)

[Here we see the early "apostolic succession," and how it applies to the clerical offices of presbyter and episcopos (which were, and remain, connected). Again, men are required, since they must be "husband of one wife" and heads of households (teaching and given to hospitality). The early Church did not permit translation of ministers because of this marital relation between the priest or bishop and his cure; and the Eastern Orthodox still do not permit widowed clergy to remarry, for fear of blurring the one husband and one wife, one pastor and one cure analogy.]


Three Examples from the Acts

Acts 1:20

20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take. (KJV)

[This regards the replacement of Judas. The second part quotes Psalm 109:8, part of a long curse against an ungodly man. We know he is male because the curse also extends to his children and widow, at Ps. 109:9 (KJV).]

Acts 6:1-4

1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.

2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.

3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. (KJV)

[We see not only that the main business of the ministerial priesthood is the Word of God and prayers, but that the first deacons, who remain the pattern today, were men (andras, from aner).]

Acts 20:28-30

28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. (KJV)

[The wolves are "andres" (men) in opposition to the episcopoi, the male overseers who feed the church of God.]


From St. Peter's First Epistle General

1 Peter 5:1-5

1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:

2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;

3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. (KJV)

[The elders (presbuteroi) that Peter exhorts as "sumpresbuteros" (a fellow elder) are to model themselves on the chief Shephers, Jesus Christ, God's Son incarnate as a male. To these elders, the younger (men or neophytes in the faith?) are to submit themselves, as to the heads of households.]


Examples from the pre-Christian and Christian use of the office of "elders"

Luke 22:66

66 And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led him into their council, saying, (KJV)

[The Jewish elders are the male presbuterion, and what we see in the course of the New Testament is the adoption, continuation, and perfection (as a spiritual form) of the Old Testament Church's order by the New Testament Church.]

Acts 22:5

5 As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished. (KJV)

[The "estate of the elders" is the "presbuterion." See next citation.]

1 Timothy 4:14

14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. (KJV)

[Here we see the use of a Christian "estate of elders," of a male order in the Christian Church.]

Matthew 16:21

21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. (KJV)

[This passage is typical of the Old Testament order of elders and chief priests. Compare to the following.]

Acts 11:29-30

29 Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea:

30 Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul. (KJV)

[Here the Christian elders at Jerusalem have replaced the Jewish elders.]

Acts 14:21-23

21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,

22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

23 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. (KJV)

[Here we see Paul and Barnabas setting up a similar establishment of elders in the churches they plant, by ordination.]

Acts 15:4-6

4 And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.

5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.

6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. (KJV)

[Here we see that "apostles and elders" have replaced "the chief priests and elders," all of whom are male in context and historic practice.]

Acts 15:22-23

22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren:

23 And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: (KJV)

[The form of authority is "apostles and elders and brethren," and they send chosen men (andras, from aner, man) of their authoritative company to deliver their decision.]

Acts 16:4

4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. (KJV)

[The apostles and elders rule as did the chief priests and elders, and the male order of biblical religion is continued by them as perfected in the New Testament.]

Acts 21:18-19

18 And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.

19 And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry. (KJV)

[Paul reports on his work to James and the elders, which act demonstrates their governing authority in the Church.]


Some Examples from St. John

2 John 1

1 The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth; (KJV)

[John identifies himself as an elder, and it is likely that "the elect lady and her children" is a church. The male-female nature of the pastoral relationship is thus illustrated, or at least the Apostle's understanding that the elders of Christianity have replaced those of the Old Law; see also 3 John 1.]

Revelation 4:10-11

10 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. (KJV)

[The 24 elders are the 12 Patriarchs of the Old Testament and the 12 Apostles who serve as the Patriarchs of the New Testament. This patriarchal order is subservient to the rule of God, as indicated by the casting of the crowns, but it is the basis of the human order of the Church, in subjection to the Head, Jesus Christ. See the following.]

Revelation 21:10-14

10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

11 Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;

12 And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:

13 On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.

14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. (KJV)

[The gates of the heavenly Jerusalem, not made with hands, and therefore made by God himself, are the Patriarchs; and the foundation of the City is the 12 Apostles. Thus, John tells us that the divine order of the Church, including her male ministry, is of God's establishment, and not merely a human "accident." See the following for the dominical basis.]

Dominical Basis

Matthew 19:28

28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (KJV)


Luke 22:29-30

29 And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me;

30 That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (KJV)

[Here Christ himself establishes the apostolic ministry, sending the apostles as the Father has sent him. Besides the apostles' own maleness, which they share with the one who sends them, who was sent himself by the Father as the Son; we should notice their authority to govern the Church and to appoint her ministry, which we know was guided by the descent of the Holy Ghost upon them. See the following].

John 20:21-23

21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. (KJV)

[Here we see the special commission of the Apostles, which was not made to the Church in general. The transmission of such authority must be through them and their successors, to continue the line of "as the Father hath sent me, so send I you." Their authority, and the authority of their successors, has been used to put in place a male ministry. The argument of General Convention 1976, and of the other proponents of the "ordination" of women, has been that the glorified Christ (either in error or because of cultural limitations), the Holy Ghost, the Apostles, and all their successors up to now have acted in error by not including women in this ministry.]


Evidence from the Epistle to the Hebrews

Hebrews 5:5-6

5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.

6 As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. (KJV)

[Christ, whom the ministry represents, is high priest and Son; the order of Melchisidec (male) is a male order. See the next.]

Hebrews 7:1-3

1 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;

2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;

3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. (KJV)

[Melchisidec is made "like unto the Son of God," so the typology of priesthood includes sonship, by divine institution.]

Hebrews 7:11-12

11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?

12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. (KJV)

[The priesthood of the New Testament is not Aaronic, but resides in Christ. See next.]

Hebrews 7:15-16

15 And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest,

16 Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. (KJV)

[Christ's priesthood is not part of a carnal, earthly, material, or temporary commandment, but an eternal one. See next.]

Hebrews 7:22-26

22 By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.

23 And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death:

24 But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.

25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

26 For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; (KJV)

[The priesthood of Christ, and that representative priesthood rooted in Christ's priesthood is changeless. To change it is to change the New Testament itself.]


About Women and the Order of the Church

1 Corinthians 14:33-35

33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.

35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. (KJV)

[It is difficult, indeed, to see how the "ordination" of women agrees with this picture of Christian order or the Christian obedience required of women. We know that this is a Christian order, moreover, since Paul explains that this was the Old Testament rule as well ("as also saith the law"). But see the following.]

Philippians 4:3

3 And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life. (KJV)

[This passage answers the simpleminded claim that St. Paul was simply a misogynist. Here he speaks highly of women who work in the Gospel according to their proper calling.]

1 Timothy 2:11-15

11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.

12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.

14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety. (KJV)

[We see that the order of the Church is rooted in creation, and is part of the restoration of original righteousness. We see that women are not to have authority over men in the Church, not because of an inferior human dignity, but because of their different calling as rooted in creation and the very nature of things as divinely given. This difference is not a punishment for the fall, but the fall is explained as beginning in Eve's action outside of her creation, which, of course, according to his dereliction of his own calling was the sin of Adam.]

1 Timothy 5:9-16 [followed by the passage about elders who rule well]

9 Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man,

10 Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.

11 But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;

12 Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.

13 And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.

14 I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.

15 For some are already turned aside after Satan.

16 If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed. (KJV)

[These rules regarding widows demonstrate a different office for women, whether as widows or as wives who "guide the house." If the Church has erred, it has been in not appreciating sufficiently the critical ministry of wives, and of those who serve in a sort of surrogate "motherhood" as nurturing and experienced Christian women.]

Titus 2:1-5

1 But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:

2 That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.

3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;

4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,

5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. (KJV)

[The "keepers at home" are also "keepers of homes," and they serve well when they fulfill their divine calling.]

1 Peter 3:1-7

1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;

2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.

3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;

4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:

6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.

7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. (KJV)

[Peter describes the order of men and women in moral terms, and as revealed by the pattern of the godly wives of the Old Testament. Within that order, men and women both have their proper place and duties. It was Abraham, as well, who offered the family sacrifices, and not Sarah.]


Other New Testament Corroboration of the Old Testament Order Based in Creation

Genesis 2:22-25

22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. (KJV)

[We see that this order is part of original righteousness, and not part of the fall.]

Matthew 19:4-6

4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,

5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. (KJV)

[Our Lord confirms the created order.]

Ephesians 5:22-33

22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:

30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. (KJV)

[St. Paul informs us that the created order is a type of the order between Christ and his Church. The proper relation of husband and wife is thus a picture of the Church; and the proper relation of the masculine and the feminine and of the male and the female within the Church is the proper pattern of Christian marriage. The "husbandly" nature of the ministry is confirmed here, and it was practiced as such, when the ministry behave properly, through the history of the Church.]


Two Old Testament Witnesses to the Divine Order

Judges 5:6-9

6 In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied, and the travellers walked through byways.

7 The inhabitants of the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel.

8 They chose new gods; then was war in the gates: was there a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel?

9 My heart is toward the governors of Israel, that offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless ye the LORD. (KJV)

[Here, in the Song of Deborah, we do not see a woman simply taking the place of men, but being raised up a "mother" in Israel to call the men to their proper duty, to the praise of God.]

Proverbs 31:10-31

10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.

12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.

14 She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.

15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.

16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.

17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.

18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.

19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.

20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.

21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.

22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.

23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.

24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.

25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.

26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.

27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.

28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.

30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.

31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates. (KJV)

[I apologize for using such a long passage, but its mere size refutes the claim of Old Testament misogynism. Further, we see that the virtuous wife sends her husband to the gates to meet with the other elders of the community, and that she is know there, not by her participation in their council, but by her good works. She and her work are the honorable basis for the peace and welfare of the community. Thus, the husband and the wife take part in all of the life of the community, with an equal dignity, but in different ways because of their created vocations.]

APPENDIX: A Few Citations from the Fathers

Clement of Rome (c. 95), Ep. to the Corinthians, xl sqq (Betenson, Doc.)

xl. ...Therefore they that make their offerings at the appointed season are acceptable and blessed, for in following the ordinances of the master they do not err. To the high priest are given his special ministrations, a special place is reserved for the priests, and special duties are imposed on the levites, while the layman is bound by the ordinances concerning the laity.

xli. Let each of you, brethren, in his own order give thanks to God with a good conscience, not transgressing the appointed rule of his service, in reverence. For it is not in every place, brethren, that the perpetual sacrifices are offered, or the freewill offerings, the sin offerings, and the guilt offerings, but in Jerusalem only; and even there the offering is not made in every place, but before the sanctuary at the altar, when the offering has been inspected by the high priest and ministers aforesaid. Therefore all who act contrary to the due performance of his will incur the penalty to death. You see, brethren, that, as we have been accounted worthy of a fuller knowledge, so we are exposed to a greater peril.

xlii. ...And so, as they [the Apostles] preached in the country and in the towns, they appointed their firstfruits (having proved them by the Spirit) to be bishops and deacons [overseers and ministers] of them that should believe....

xliv. Our Apostles knew also, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that there would be strife over the dignity of the bishop's office. For this reason therefore, having received complete foreknowledge, they appointed the aforesaid, and after a time made provision that on their death other approved men would succeed to their ministry....

[Clement is describing the order of the Church as the fulfillment and perfection of the order of the Old Testament. He is writing probably while St. John still lives, but certainly while other eyewitnesses of our Lord's preaching and teaching live. Thus, the preservation of this epistle by the Church from that time indicates that it was consistent with their understanding of the Gospel ministry, including its male character.]

St. Ignatius of Antioch (c. 112), Ep. to the Smyrnaens, c. viii, Bettenson, Doc.

Avoid divisions as the beginning of evils. All of you follow the bishop as Jesus Christ followed the Father, and follow the presbytery as the Apostles; and respect the deacons as the commandment of God. Let no man perform anything pertaining to the church without the bishop. Let that be considered a valid Eucharist over which the bishop presides, or one to whom he commits it. Wherever the bishop appears, there let the people be, just as, wheresoever Christ Jesus us, there is the Catholic Church. It is not permitted either to baptize or hold a love-feast apart from the bishop. But whatever he may approve, that is well-pleasing to God, that everything which you do may be sound and valid.

[Here, again, we see the New Testament ministry as representative of Christ's perfection in himself and his mystical Body of the patterns of the Old Testament.]

St. Irenaeus (Bishop of Lyons, c. 180), Adversus Haereses, III (Bettenson, Doc.)

ii. 1I. When they [the heretics] are refuted out of the Scriptures, they betake them to accusing the Scriptures themselves as if there were something amiss with them and they carried no authority, because the Scriptures, they say, contain diverse utterances, and because the truth cannot be found in them by those that know not the tradition....

2. Yet when we appeal again to that tradition which is derived from the Apostles, and which is safeguarded in the churches through the succession of presbyters, they then are adversaries of tradition, claiming to be wiser not only than the presbyters but even than the Apostles, and to have discovered the truth undefiled....

iii. 1. Those that wish to discern the truth may observe the apostolic tradition made manifest in every church throughout the world. We can enumerate those who were appointed bishops in the churches by the Apostles, and their successors [or successions] down to our own day, who never taught, and never knew, absurdities such as these men produce....

[Apparently from the earliest times, Christians have encountered arguments in favor of innovations contrary to the divinely given pattern of the Church. When the Scriptures are invoked to defend the Church's life and practice, they are found confusing or unclear. When the apostolic understanding of the Scriptures is offered as the Church's own understanding of the Scriptures, then the opponents of the Church's life discover problems with tradition or with the Fathers themselves. This is very similar to the form that the argument for women's "ordination" takes today, whose proponents end by claiming that they, alone, in all of history, have understood divine revelation.]


Tertullian (c. 160-240) before his defection to the Montanists: De Praescriptione Haereticorum (Bettenson, Doc.)

xx. ...The Apostles first bore witness to the faith of Christ Jesus throughout Judaea; they founded churches there, and then went out into the world and preached to the nations the same doctrine of the same faith. They likewise founded churches in every city, from which the other churches thereafter derived the shoot of faith and the seeds of the doctrine--yea, and are still deriving them, in order to become churches. It is through this that these churches are themselves apostolic, in that they are the offspring of apostolic churches. Every kind of thing must needs be classed in accordance with its origin. And so the churches, many and great as they may be, are really the one Primitive Church issuing from the Apostles, which is their source. So all are primitive and all Apostolic, while all are one. And this unity is proved by the peace they share, by their title of brotherhood, by their contract of hospitality; for these privileges have but one ground, the one tradition of the same revelation [sacramentum].

[The churches that persist in the apostolic pattern are the primitive Church alive and working in the world today. Those that depart from the apostolic patterns have departed from the primitive Church, and are at the very least in danger of departing from Christ himself, who is the Church.]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Go to: => TOP Page;  => Women Ordination Library;  => Theology Library;  => ROAD MAP