Are There Women Apostles? : Apostolic or Apostle--the Difference


"As for My people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O My people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths." (Isa 3:12)

God is calling an apostolic people with an apostolic anointing. Woman are a vital part of this movement. They are partakers of the anointing that cascades down from the Head of Apostle Jesus, and apostolic works shall flow from their hands. We are not talking about whether we should receive the ministry of a woman seemingly operating in the fivefold, as we grow in the knowledge of Truth together. The titles of apostle and head pastor which women have mistakenly adopted, does NOT make them false apostolic persons or false Christians. Yes, it is an errant concept. Often what is represented is a valid ministry operating under a mistaken identity.

These things must come in time by revelation. The following is not a mandate for us to shake our finger in the face of every female who would use the feigned title of apostle. Much of the guilt lies with lethargic men. We are reaping the negative harvest of generations of male leaders who have side-stepped this issue in order to placate influential women in their congregations.

What the Issue is Not: Equality of Worth, or Status. The question of whether or not to ordain women as apostles and HEAD pastors should not be confused with equality of worth (ontological equality.) Equality of worth is a clear Biblical teaching, affirming that all human beings--male and female--stand before God as created beings, as sinners in need of salvation through Christ, and as people called to a united apostolic destiny. The scriptural evidence for this is that (1) both "male and female" were created "in the image of God" (Gen 1:27; Matt 19:4; Mark 10:6); (2) both have been redeemed by Jesus Christ, so that "in Christ" there is neither "male nor female" (Gal 3:28); and (3) both are "joint heirs of the grace of life" (1 Pet 3:7 RSV).

However, it is clear that the man and the woman, though heirs of the "grace" of life, have different ministerial "graces." They are not equal in responsibilities, respective created workmanships, nor in their family roles, keeping in mind that we are the family of God (Eph 3:15).

It has been ineffectively argued that Paul may have written from a standpoint of the Jewish customs of the day, which, as a symptom of Israel's apostasy, traditionally oppressed and demeaned woman. No, there is nothing legalistic about proper order and procedure. In it, there is peace and liberty as we move into the niche that God has designed for us as individuals.

If we try to use the argument that the Bible is tainted by obsolete chauvinistic first century customs, then where do we draw the line? Next, we'd be questioning the present existence of charismata gifts and modern day apostles. So we need proceed from the standpoint that the Word of the Lord endures forever, thus, all of the Bible is relevant today for Jew and gentile alike.

Because the Spirit of the Lord knew that in the last days this argument would arise, He inspired Paul to reflect back on the divine role pattern ordained at creation, before there were any Jewish traditions at all. Woman was created for the man out of man's genetic material (1 Cor 11:8,9). God reaffirms the order in 1 Tim 2:13: "... Adam was first formed, then Eve." The male, lest he become overbearing, is exhorted to remember that he must respect the woman because he was taken from her womb and reared by her. If he holds her in disregard, his prayers will be hindered.

The practice of women in headship is 'justified' by its practitioners

by the scripture that says "now no longer male nor female ..."

Since the Bible can't contradict itself, this verse needs to be

assimilated together with verses such as, "If she have any

question, let her ask her husband at home," and, "Let the woman

learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to

teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence."

Since woman are encouraged in 1 Cor. Chapters 12 & 14 to use the

verbal charismatic gifts, this means there is a time for them to

speak, and a time to be silent. (This applies to men too.)

In the specific case of the woman, she should be silent on

governmental issues, or at the least, non-contentious, not raising

questions regarding church authority. She can certainly teach

woman according to Titus 2:4. Since 1 Cor. 14 allows her to

bring revelation, she can stand behind the pulpit also teaching


The verses about the qualifications of elders and deacons all use

male pronouns. It is also written that the elder/deacon should be

the husband of one wife. It the case of apostle, he should have a

father's heart. It is hard for a woman to have a father's heart.

Although Paul did say, "We were gentle among you, even as a

nurse cherisheth her children," it should be considered that men

can make excellent male nurses, whereas woman can never be

a father. Due to the sin principle in the world, she is often forced

into the father role. Perhaps this is why woman "head pastors" have

appeared on the scene.

Regarding Bible "precedents" for women as elders we don't see

any irrefutable ones. Phoebe was a deacon, not bishop or elder.

She was a servant, that is, [Greek] deaconess of the Lord. We don't know

if she was officially ordained in the deacon office. The first seven

deacons in Acts Six were men. At any rate, deacons are not properly

the head(s) of the church.

The Bible doesn't say Priscilla was a pastor OVER her husband Aquilla.

It doesn't say she was pastor at all. The Word only says THEY had

a house church; she was a hostess, as Lydia, who hosted Paul's ministry

for a time. She did influence Apollos, who became an apostle. This again

goes to show that we can receive revelation from all persons in the faith.

The Bible does not say what sex the apostle Junia (KJV) was, but the

genealogy of Jesus in Matt. 1 indicates that in the Greek language

men's names can end with the suffix, "-a". Some Bibles put an "s"

on the end of the word, Junia.

Paul encouraged the church to receive the ministry of certain women

or female missionaries. Again, he didn't say they were apostles or head


Jesus sent out seventy persons; we don't know what sex they were;

neither is it clear whether they all were ordained in the office of

apostle / "sent one" after the resurrection when fivefold gifts were

officially given to the Church.

Debra, in the Old Testament was a judge, not an apostle. No doubt,

she had a great deal of influence, but the Lord wanted to replace her

with the reluctant man, Barak, who forfeited some of his own

authority to Debra, against God's will. Debra prophesied that

because Barak did this, the enemy general, Sisera, would be

killed by a woman, and so it came to pass. Here, we see God's

plan A and backup plan B illustrated. God does not violate

man's volitional will. Barak did not make the ideal choice.

This is an example where we see a woman with "apostolic

anointing" or "apostolic grace", although she was not ordained

to the office or so entitled. She filled a vacuum--a vacuum

cause by man's hesitation to take his rightful headship role.

In spite of the lack of Bible support for women elders, we are

flexible in allowing women to minister as evangelists, prophetesses,

teachers, and assistant pastors, or pastors over subdivisions.

Perhaps these are mere titles, God only knows, and the women may

not be elders at all, but we do recognize their exceptional ministerial


We balk at the concept of female head pastors or apostles.

The head of the woman is the man. In the hypothetical case of

a woman head pastor, it is not enough to say that she is submitted

to her husband when he is a member of the same church: if the

pastor is the spiritual head of the local church, she would be the

spiritual head of her husband, the church member. Can we separate

headship at home from headship at church, since the church is

composed of families and is called the family of God? Is not the

husband the spiritual head of the nuclear home? He is therefore,

the spiritual head of the local family of God, the local church,

a composition of family units.

The church universal is in a state of transition. The important

thing is service, not titles. I realize how difficult it is for large

organizations to suddenly shift structures, so we have to allow

grace, patience, and flexibility in the interim. We are also still

receiving confirming input as to individual callings, titles, and

gifts. Nobody wants to be presumptuous, and rightly so. The

prevailing attitude should be love, as we adapt together.

We can't put God in a box, a prisoner of His own Word, and

say to Him, "You can't do this, because Your Word says thus

and so ..." If God wants to raise up interim woman head leaders and

apostolic substitutes, that is His prerogative, but we must weigh seriously

the lack of solid scriptural support for the notion that women

are recipients of the Ephesians 4:11 dorea office gift of apostle,

as the Church approaches the fulness of the stature of the Son.

I believe the woman can be most effective, if she avoids such

titles that, based on prevalent perceptions or misconceptions,

as the case may be, would offend others or negate her ministry.

I know of valid apostles that would not receive the ministry

of a woman who calls herself an apostle. If she has a true

ministerial gift, she may be short-circuiting herself by using

a questionable title. However, we must keep our hearts

pure with a readiness to accept godly ministry in unfamiliar

unconventional packages as we embrace the new generation

of leadership.

On the other hand, the male apostle needs to be bold in

using the title of apostle, or he also will hinder his ministry.

I expanded on the boldness theme in the article

with a list of about a dozen reasons why the apostle should

call himself "apostle", not using a more socially accepted


How about husband and wife "co-pastors"?

If he truly is the head of his household, the term "co-pastor"

is a misnomer. They are not "co". If she has pastoral grace,

she may be an assistant pastor or the leader of a branch of

the ministry. Through the vehicle of marriage, God has made

them one flesh, not one spirit. In heaven there is no marriage.

The wife does not acquire a fivefold office through marriage,

but she becomes a helpmate to the one in that office, sharing

his vision. In addition to residing under his covering anointing,

she has a unique anointing for her own gift.

For more on the theme of women apostles and head pastors,

as well as the subject of "co-pastors" with its ramifications

see Roger Sapp's online book, "Pandora's Pulpit"; download

time is about four minutes. Also available in hard copy.

There is a long excerpt from the book at

In "Pandora's Pulpit" there is a chapter on exceptional women.

Sapp's web address:


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