“All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” (Acts 1:14, ESV)
“But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: “ ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’” (Acts 2:16–21, ESV)
One of the defining characteristics of the spirit-empowered Church is the inclusion and empowerment of women. The purpose of the outpouring of the Spirit was to release power upon and through God’s people to enable bold worldwide witness. The women were involved in this upper room time of waiting. Why? Because they too are called to bold worldwide witness. Once this dramatic experience occurred, the scriptural explanation explicitly clarifies that the result of the outpouring of God’s Spirit upon God’s people would be that males and females would both prophesy. They would both hear from God and declare his heart and words. This scripture was given in explanation for what was in fact occurring at that moment. Men and women together had been empowered and were together speaking. This is the beginning of what we call Church. It is the essence.
This is our standard still today. It is our ideal.
That the early church did not consistently live out that ideal, and that Paul’s letters accurately reflect this shortcoming in some places, does not justify any adjustment of the standard. The early church also lived out quite a bit of racism between Jews and Greeks and also freely embraced the practice of humans enslaving other humans. Paul’s letters accurately reflect and give instruction for these shortcomings as well. To think that the role of scripture is to accurately detail the shortcomings of the early church so that we can perpetuate those shortcomings results from a seriously filtered reading and application of scripture.
The Holy Spirit has been poured out upon all flesh, upon male and female together. Why? So that we can all boldly proclaim the gospel in the power of the Spirit with signs and wonders. Church is not the exception. Church is the primary place where this should find full expression.