Standard of the Day
It would seem there was a practical reason for men to administer the Church while women tended to have lots of children. Adam sinned knowingly, but Eve was deceived by a darkened mind. Eve was beguiled directly by Satan, but man was deceived through his affection for Eve. Women not allowed to speak in church meetings was conducive to the times. Women were quite emotional and taking away from the spirit, like Eve sinned first and was deceived by the serpent. At the time, women Elders would not work well, because they were not considered in those days good witnesses. This was not always going to be the case, for notice now this past century women can vote.
In Paul's day, women were not ready yet to be Elders of a locality, or perhaps they were ready, but society was not yet ready to receive them. To give credence, consider 1 Tim. 6: "Christians who are slaves should give their masters full respect so that the name of God and his teaching will not be shamed. If your master is a Christian, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. You should work all the harder because you are helping another believer by your efforts" (v.1,2). Though slavery is wrong, it was not yet ready for change, because society still functioned in that mode for centuries later. Similarly, women were treated a certain way in those days, and society was not yet ready for radical change. But what has happened in the past century alone? Women can vote and take on every level of administration including mayors of cities. One thing is sure, before the return of Christ, women will prominently be elders of localities and meeting places. Christ will not return until women are prominent in the governing of the church equal with men. God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10.34). So why not encourage women instead of holding them back? All the better for the sooner return of Christ.
To show how culture does have its impact, look at China and India in the first half of the 20th century which was very male-centric. Quite right, Christians such as Watchman Nee did not see society was ready yet for women elders. His conclusion that women could not be elders was deemed appropriate for his time and place because women did not have much say in that society. He did admit there were women apostles in the Bible. There is no excuse for someone saying women cannot be elders. Many men have troubles getting over this, so they block the way of progress in the Church.
God can only deal with us according to our knowledge and understanding of the day. Just this past century women can vote. There has been an exponential increase in the number of women Apostles and Elders per capita.
Junia and Priscilla
Nee said, Junia was an Apostle (Rom. 16.7) and a highly respected one too. You can't have women apostles yet no women elders, for an apostle is higher than an elder. However, in Nee's day in his society, women had few rights like women had few rights in the first century, so obviously it would not be appropriate to have many women elders over many church localities until the time was right. Priscilla may have been an Apostle: "When Priscilla and Aquila heard him preaching boldly in the synagogue, they took him aside and explained the way of God more accurately" (Acts 18.26). This is very characteristic of an Apostle.
Priscilla was an Elder of a meeting place: "The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house" (1 Cor. 16.19). She was also an Elder of a church locality, because the first portion says, "the churches of Asia," in which Priscilla was an Elder of one of these churches in Asia. Hence, what follows is a most notable Elder: "Priscilla salutes you" and she had helped Apollos showing she had authority. Formerly she could have been a "helper" (Rom. 16.3), but then became an Elder of a locality, and even an Apostle for a region of churches.
The church would be very dull in our day if it was male-centric as in the Roman Church system, the great harlot or religious Rome that is with us still to this day today (church of Thyatira).
Some of those closest to Christ were women. The 144,000 firstfruits virgins fulfill roles of authority, for they are closest to Christ, who can be either male or female. See "Come, Lord Jesus", 153-157, Watchman Nee (CFP white covers). An Elder is relative to other members of the body of Christ. Women can be more spiritual relative to others for this role.
Ask yourself, is not even one women on the whole planet allowed to be an Elder of a locality or an Elder of a meeting place? If your answer is No, shame on you! This question is one of the questions to determine if you qualify as an Apostle or an Elder...see the 17th question. "Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them" (Acts 17.34). "Certain men" is followed by ":"; which includes some women. So, when the Bible says, "husband of one wife" (1 Tim. 3.2), please don't take the legalistic gender bias towards the latter phrase. Let the word of God open your heart.
Even where 2 or 3 are gathered in His name, there are only three members of the body of Christ and they happen to be only women, but a woman is still not allowed to be an Elder of their locality or meeting place? Nonsense!
Damarias was from Athens who joined Paul and became a believer on his second missionary journey. Greek women lived in seclusion, so it is believed that she was a member of the Hetairai which was an intellectual class of women that were associates of philosophers and statesmen. They were the only free women in Athens. The point of this is to show women were greatly oppressed in prior centuries, so it is perfectly reasonable not to have women elders in those prior times, but no such reason should apply today in civilized nations.
If the Gospels are recorded back upon what occurred 50 years prior, then you donít pick women as witnesses. In the first century, Jewish law said women could not testify in a court of law. Jewish writings said women are liars. Referring to women, ďAnd their words seemed to them as IDLE TALES, and they believed them notĒ (Luke 24.11). When the women came back from the tomb, the disciples did not believe them that the tomb was empty. They thought the women were spreading gossip and tales. What this shows is that it was not the time for women to be Elders because God in His love did not want to overburden women. Such times have passed. Women have less children today. Women can vote. They are presidents, senators and mayors.
We are not to suffer a man to teach us; nor are we to suffer a woman to teach us (1 Tim. 2.12) for "as for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him" (1 John 2.27, 2 Cor. 4.10).
Consequences of Mistreating Women
"And I have faced danger from men [false brothers] who claim to
be Christians but are not" (2 Cor. 11.26). At best, those who
deny women the work of Apostles or Elders will lose the reward of returning and
reigning with Christ during the millennial kingdom.
It is so easy for me to see women as equal, because that is what the
Spirit has shown me. But you know what I have found is the real
challenge? Women have bought into this sometimes just as soundly as men
if not more. I do not know how many women feel they are being righteous
by their act of silence. The men were apostles of Christ, yet who were
the first to run to His tomb? Who were the first to run and tell the
others Christ was alive? Who was skeptical? It doesn't make sense or add
up that men are righteously the ones to preach or lead. In perfection,
we will perfectly know in our resurrection and will realize the ONLY good comes from
the Holy Spirit that dwells within us. Thus, gender has no bearing. The Holy Spirit does not rest in one more
fully just because they posses the X and Y chromosome.