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Scripture Reading:  Acts 18:24-28


Bible Question Box

(December 2005)


Question #1:  Is it ok for a woman to baptize someone?


1.  The basis for a Bible answer to this question is that of the leadership role of men & the submissive role of women.  When & where Christian men can baptize, they should, not women.

2.  But someone asks:  “Can’t you conceive of such a possibility?” 

  a.  We can conceive many things, but the ability to construct a scenario does not establish divine authority for it (but, it will often be an occasion for strife), 1 Tim. 1:3-4 (6:3-4). 

  b.  We are addressing reality, not hypothetical situations.  Generally, Christian men are available.

3.  But someone says:  “It doesn’t matter who does the baptizing” (1 Cor. 1:14-17).

   -Yes, but there are additional principles & statements of truth that lead us to our conclusion. 

4.  Some relevant Bible patterns apply:

  a.  God has established an order of headship in which men lead & women follow – we must respect & follow this, 1 Cor. 11:3.  (cf. Marriage, Eph. 5:24; the church, 1 Tim. 2:8-15).

    1) Example:  Women certainly have authority to participate in assembly:

      -Sing praises, teaching & admonitions (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16); silently pray during congregational prayer (Acts 2:42); eat the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7); hear & study God’s word (Acts 20:7); confess faith & be baptized (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 2:38); repent & ask for the prayers of fellow saints (Jas. 5:16).

    2) Does this authorize women to lead singing?  No.  To lead prayer?  No.  To serve the L. S.?  No.  To lead the church in hearing a sinner’s confession of faith?  No.  To then baptize that person?  No.

    3) In each of these the woman assumes a leadership position & the man defaults his leadership role.

      a) But, the woman is not the head (leaders) of man (in/out of the assembly), 1 Tim. 2:8, 11-12.

      b) Position of leading, not of submissive deference, 2:11

      c) Women are to learn in silence (quietness, Acts 22:2) with all submission (obedience, 1 Tim. 3:4; “to arrange under, subordinate”).  This does not at all suggest taking a leading role, such as baptizing one into Christ.

  b.  Not permitted to teach or have authority (dominion) over a man, 2:12 (Acts 4:18).
    1) Usurp authority:  To take to oneself authority, so as to govern or exercise dominion over another.

    2) Any arrangement in which women take the lead & exercise positions of rule over men is sinful (teaching, preaching, praying, song leading, baptizing, etc.).

5.  The example of Apollos, Aquila & Priscilla, Acts 18:24-26.

  a.  Priscilla did not speak out publicly to teach Apollos, nor did she take the lead in the private teaching that occurred.

  b.  Apollos was baptized into Christ (learned from events of Acts 19:1-5).

  c.  No indication that Priscilla took the lead to baptize Apollos after submissively helping her husband teach him!  In fact, just the opposite is implied.

6.  A word about innovations in churches of Christ:  More & more women are usurping authority over men (1 Tim. 2:12). 



Question #2:  Can I have some scriptural basis for placing membership in a congregation?


1.  “Placing membership” is an accommodative phrase that describes a Christian’s decision to become an active member of a local church & to be received as such by that church.

2.  NT examples that authorize the practice:

  a.  Acts 9:26-28:  Saul tried to join the disciples (“to join or fasten firmly together”):

    1) No “membership-at-large” in his mind.

    2) The church responded to his attempt:  Did not think he was a disciple (and therefore, were not going to allow him to join them), 9:26.

    3) Barnabas verified his faithfulness, 9:27.

    4) Result:  He was received by the disciples (the church in Jerusalem), 9:28.

  b.  Acts 18:27-28:  The Ephesian church recommended Apollos to the Corinthian church (receive, apodechomai:  “to accept what is offered from without”).

3.  The local church’s existence, arrangement & work necessarily imply membership:

  a.  Without members there would be no local churches!

  b.  The rule of elders & the submission of the Christians to their rule, Heb. 13:17.

  c.  The work of teachers among the disciples, Acts 11:26.

  d.  Benevolence to needy saints:

    1) Acts 4:34:  “among them” – how is there any such thing without identifiable members?

    2) Acts 11:29-30:  Which “brethren” did these “elders” oversee & assist if not those “among them” (1 Pet. 5:2) – membership in a local church is necessarily implied.

  e.  Discipline of unrepentant Christian, Matt. 18:15-17; 1 Cor. 5:1, 4-5, 13.

4.  Assembled worship of the local church necessarily implies membership: 

  a.  Lord’s Supper:  1 Cor. 11:18-19.

  b.  Singing, Eph. 5:19.

  c.  Giving, 1 Cor. 16:1-2.   …each one of you…who?  “You” – members were identifiable.

5.  The figures used to describe the local church necessarily imply membership:

  a.  Local church as a flockActs 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:2-3.  The Lord wants His sheep under the oversight of shepherds (implies being numbered among the flock. Otherwise, Lord approves of stray sheep?!

  b.  Local church as a body1 Cor. 12:14-27.  This verse is senseless without membership in the local church.  (Body parts die when severed from the body, disciples will, too!)

  c.  Local church as a family:  1 Tim. 1:3; 3:14-15 (brother, 2 Ths. 3:6, 14-15).



1.  We each have a place, a part to fulfill in the local church (Eph. 4:16).  The NT defines our roles & responsibilities, & describes how we function together as one the way God wants (1 Cor. 12:18, 27).

2.  We will be content with His arrangements, respect them & advance them to the glory of His name.