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Topic 25: Only male disciples?


◆ “None of them [the women], however, is included among the number of the Apostles; they were parallel to the disciples as traveling companions, but they were not included among the twelve” (Commission on Theology and Church Relations, “Women in the Church,” Sept. 1985, pg. 9).

Contrary to what the CTCR implies, Jesus does not set a principle as to who can be included in the public ministry of the Church when he chose twelve male Jewish disciples.

(A) Neither are Gentiles, Blacks, Asians, or slaves included among the twelve apostles.  If we draw theological and ecclesiastical practice from the fact that no women were among the apostles, what conclusions do we draw from the fact that Jesus chose no Blacks or Asians or slaves?  Does this mean that only Jewish males can be Missouri Synod pastors?  The CTCR’s logic is patently weak.

(B In the cultural context of the first-century Jewish and Greco-Roman worlds it only makes sense to choose male apostles.  Does not this factor indicate the issue of male disciples is partially time-bound?  Or, should we infer, then, that the choice of male disciples is one that is an immutable law, always to be made?

(C) The Scriptures do not create a theological mandate out of Jesus’ choice of disciples; the choice of twelve is meant to replicate the twelve tribes of Old Israel (Jesus and the Twelve as the foundation of the New Israel), not construct a gender issue point.

(D) The Apostles did not appoint any successors; their ministry now belongs to the whole church.

(E) See the notes at Topic Six, “Male or Human?” on 1 Timothy 2:5-6.

(F) The Gospels themselves point beyond an all-male ministerium:

(1) Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-11: Christ first appeared after his resurrection to women, and he commissioned them to tell his brothers.  Women provide the initial witness to the central event of the Christian faith (which is a criterion for apostleship, Acts 1:22).

(2) John 4:1-42: “[vs 39]… many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony …”

(3)  Josephus writes, “But let not a single witness be credited; but three, or two at the best, and those such whose testimony is confirmed by their good lives.  But let not the testimony of women be admitted, on account of the levity and boldness of their sex, nor let servants be admitted to give testimony on account of the ignobility of their soul; since it is probable that they may not speak truth, either out of hope of gain, or fear of punishment” (Antiquities, IV, viii, 15).  In light of this feeling, it is surprising that women are chosen as witnesses of the resurrected Christ.

(4) Since, culturally, women may not have been chosen to be among the first twelve, the fact that women were first at the tomb “balances this out.”  God does not despise preaching and witnessing by women.