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Christos Sp. Voulgaris

The  Sacrament  of  Priesthood in  Holy  Scripture
Theological Presuppositions
Athens 1996 


VII. The Meaning and Significance of Ordination


All church officers, deacons, presbyters and prophets, were installed into office by ordination (“χειροτονία”), consisting in prayer and the laying of the officer who ordained them upon the appointed person[lxiv].  The laying on of hands is used in the N.T. several occasions, like f.e. for the blessing of persons, healing the sick, giving the Holy Spirit after baptism, etc.  The practice derives from the O.T. were the most important occasions are the laying of the hands upon the heads of animals offered for sacrifice, to which were transferred the sins of those who offered them (cf. Exod. 29,15-19. Lev. 16,21. 24,14. etc.), and the installment of a person into office(like Joshua by Moses, Num. 27, 18-23), of the levites (Num. 8,10), etc.  The practice was retained in rabbinical Judaism where the rabbi transferred by ordination the wisdom and the authority which he had received by the same procedure from his own teacher.  Thus an unbroken successive line went back to Joshua and finally to Moses who ordained him[lxv].  The significance of the laying on of the hands was that the personality of the person who placed them was imprinted upon the person which was ordained.

     But while in rabbinic Judaism the person which performed the ordination did it “ipso jure” and thus by his own initiative transmitted his own rabbinical wisdom and authority to the new rabbi, in Christianity ordination was connected with prayer to God or Christ as the most substantial part of the entire procedure (Acts 6,6. 13,3. 14,23.)  Thus the ordinator proper was not in fact the person who placed his hands upon the new officer, but God Himself or Christ whose grace and power he invoked upon him.  We observe this from the very beginning in the case of Matthias, chosen to replace Judas in the circle of the Twelve (Acts 1,24-25), in the case of seven deacons (Acts 6,6), and in the case of Saul and Barnabas in Antioch (Acts 13,3).  So the priestly office was in fact granted to the person ordained by God or Christ himself while the officer who performed the ordination was merely the vehicle through whom Christ’s priestly office was mysteriously given to the novice.  Also, while in rabbinic Judaism the laying on of hands was a private affair, in Christianity it had an ecclesiological significance performed in the presence of the community, to whose service the novice was thus dedicated.  This, as we saw, happened in the the ordination of the highpriest and the priests (Exod. 28).  The presence of the community was a guarantee of the validity of the ordination which thus became a witness to the continuity and unbroken function of Christ’s priestly office through a continuous addition of new participants in it[lxvi].  But let us consider each particular case separately[lxvii].

     The case of the seven deacons can in itself be considered as an imitation of an old custom of the Jewish cities of Palestine to elect seven outstanding citizens to run common affairs on behalf of the community[lxviii]

Their appointment, however, was not done through ordination.  Now, the idea of representation is observes also in the case of the seven deacons.  But then the question rises as to whom they were to represent.  Several scholars maintained that the deacons were chosen and ordained by “the multitude” of the believers whom they also represented.  At first sight, this idea seems to be verified by the expression in Acts 6,6: “These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hand upon them”.  But a more careful reading of the passage gives a different conclusion.  It is clear that the task to which the deacons originally were called belonged to the apostles whom the deacons were to replace in that particular function.  On the other hand, the verbs “επισκέψασθε” and “καταστήσωμεν” in Acts 6,3 define the specific role which the members of the community and the Apostles were respectively to play.  That is, the community had to elect the deacons and the Apostles would install them into office.  In other words, installment proper, which included the prayer and the laying on of hands was exclusively reserved for the Apostles whom the deacons had thus to represent in their particular function.  Now the question comes up: why, since it was a matter concerning the social activity of Church, ordination with prayer was necessary.  The answer is simple: in the Church all authority and all gifts or functions come from Christ himself and not from the believers.  It is Christ who tends and governs his Church as the “chief pastor” (1 Pet. 5,4) through his Apostles and their successors who thus tend the church in turn “jure divino” as Christ’s representatives.  Therefore, since every office and function in the Church originate from God, they are carried out in God’s or in Christ’s name.  And he who actually appoints a member of the Church into a particular office or function is God or Christ whose grace and power are invoked upon him by prayer.

     The cases Acts 14,23 and Tit. 1,5 are very clear, as we have already seen, because they both concern the ordination of presbyters in local communities.  Difficulties seem to present themselves only in Acts 13,1-3, due to the lack of sufficient evidence.  The story tells that five “prophets and teachers” of the Church of Antioch “were worshipping the Lord and fasting” when the Holy Spirit called them to “set apart” Barnabas and Saul for the work to which he had called them, i.e. to missionary work in Seleucia, Cyprus, Pamphilia, Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe and Attalia (Paul’s first missionary tour).  Obeying to the call of the Holy Spirit, these prophets and teachers, “after fasting and praying laid their hands on them and sent them off” (13,3).  No doubt those who laid their hands on Barnabas and Saul were Symeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene and Manaen a member of Herod the tetrarch’s household.

     The narrative does not specify which of the five were prophets and which were teachers.  One thing is clear, however, that is not all of them had both offices, since according to the lists in Rom. 12,68,1 Cor. 12,28-31 and Eph. 4,10-12, the office of the teacher is lower than that of the prophet which also includes the former.  Besides, if all five had the same or both offices, the laying of the hands of the others upon Barnabas and Saul would be meaningless, because as a principle the one with a higher rank blesses or lays his hands on the one of a lower rank (cf. Heb. 7,7).  Therefore we must conclude that “prophets” were only Symeon, Lucius ad Manaen, and that Barnabas and Saul were the “teachers” of the group.  This conclusion is supported further by the information we have about Barnabas[lxix] and Saul[lxx] before the incident.  Indeed, the only activity they both had so far was that in the Church of Antioch described in Acts 11,21-26.  According to the narrative, the news that “a great number that believed turned to the Lord” forced the Church of Jerusalem to send Barnabas to Antioch who “seeing the grace of God” and being unable to handle the situation alone, went to Tarsus and invited Saul to come and help him.  In Antioch their work consisted in the “παράκλησις” and “διδαχή” of those gentiles entering the Church.  In the N.T. the word “παράκλησις” equals to instruction in connection with the kerygma of the Gospel and the overall pastoral affairs[lxxi].  This type of instruction was used in the missionary work which was under the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit.  And this was what happened in Barnabas’ case (and Paul’s) in Antioch (Acts 11,23-24).  Perhaps it was thanks to his teaching abilities that he was sent to Antioch by the Apostles in Jerusalem and for which he was also “surnamed by the apostles Barnabas which, means, son of comfort” (“υιός παρακλήσεως” Acts 4,36. Barnabas’ real name was Joseph).

     From the above we gather therefore, that before the incident described in Acts 13,1-3 Paul and Barnabas had only the office of the teacher which they practiced on the local level in the Church of Antioch.  But now commissioned by the Holy Spirit to missionary work in areas where the Gospel had not yet been preached their task included also the establishment of local churches and their overall organization by the ordination of presbyters as it is clearly stated in Acts 14,23, a task which could be carried out only by the Apostles or prophets, since the “διδάσκαλοι” were confined to the work of the “didache” (διδαχή) on the local level.  This being so then, it becomes clear that the prophets of the Antiochian church, Symeon, Lucius, and Manaen, at the indication of the Holy Spirit ordained the teachers Barnabas and Saul to the office of the prophet which in the lists Rom. 12,6-8, 1 Cor. 12,28-31 and Eph. 4,10-12 came immediately after the office of apostle.  In these lists we have a priority order of the “κρείττονα χαρίσματα”(higher gifts)[lxxii].

     The above lead us to the further conclusion that Paul’s direct call by the exulted Christ as his “vessel” “to carry his name before the Gentiles and Kings and the sons of Israel” (Acts 9,15), did not, obviously, include also his ordination into the priestly office at the same time.  He (and Barnabas) received the priestly office in Antioch through the hands of the prophets of that church, acting at the instruction of the Holy Spirit himself, since the Lord had been lifted up from the earth.  It is obvious that the prophets, having the fullness of the priestly office, had the right to ordain other persons into that office, even while the apostles were still living[lxxiii].

     Paul’s ordination into the office of the prophet, by means of which he also received the priestly office, is not incompatible with his self-designation in his epistles as “an apostle of Jesus Christ”.  His election as an Apostle was done by Christ himself, like in the case of the Twelve, the apostolic office being uniquely exclusively connected with Christ.  What happened in Antioch was that his election was confirmed by ordination at the indication of the Holy Spirit who bestows God’s or Christ’s grace upon the believers.  On the other hand, Barnabas is nowhere in the N.T. called an “apostle”, in the narrow sense of the word, because he was not elected by Jesus Christ[lxxiv].  However, both Paul and Barnabas became by ordination vicars of Christ through participation in his priesthood.  On the other hand also, the ordination of prophets by prophets is a model for the subsequent ordination of bishops by bishops alone.

     Different kinds of difficulties arise in the case of Timothy’s ordination, according to 1 Tim. 1,6.  In the first case Paul[lxxv] writes to Timothy in Ephesus not to neglect the gift he had and “which was given him by prophecy together with the laying on of the hands of the presbyters”.  At first sight, the conclusion here is that Timothy was ordained by the presbyters.   But such an idea comes to contrast with 2 Tim. 1,6 where Timothy is reminded “to rekindle the gift of God that is within him through the laying of Paul’s hands”.  In this case the participation of any other person in Timothy’s ordination is excluded.  It is very probable, though, that the expression in 1 Tim. 4,14 is equivalent to the rabbinical technical term “Semikhath Zekenim”[lxxvi], indicating the entire ceremony of the rabbinical ordination.  And if this is true, as it seems, the expression in 1 Tim. 4,14 indicates that Timothy was ordained by Paul alone during a fixed ceremony.  In this case 1 Tim. 4,14 agrees with 2 Tim. 1,6, which explains also why the prayer is not mentioned here, as in the other cases.  In any case, the presbyters did not have the authority to ordain at all, but their mention in 1 Tim. 4,14 indicates that they were simply present or participated in the ceremony, during which Paul alone ordained Timothy[lxxvii].  Anyhow, both texts refer to the same event and person, mentioned by the same author, Paul[lxxviii].

         According to both texts, Timothy received by ordination “the gift” which 1 Tim. 4,14 specifies “δια προφητείας”, which is similar to that in 1 Tim. 1,18 “κατά τας προαγούσας επί σε προφητείας” and  which must refer to the repeated manifestations of the Holy Spirit to Timothy.  These manifestations forced Paul to ordain Timothy and commit to him the “παραγγελία”, i.e. the instructions which follow[lxxix].  This also means that these manifestations were different from those of the free, occasional and temporary manifestations of the prophetic gift, in which there was no ordination involved[lxxx].


VIII. The Question of the participation of women in the Priestly Office of Jesus Christ.


In view of what has been said before, about the nature and the significance of the priestly office of Jesus Christ, we may ask the question whether there is any clear restriction in the Bible of the priesthood to men alone or any prohibition against the participation of women to it.  The answer is of course negative[lxxxi], but this does not necessarily mean that there are no serious theological reasons which favor the woman’s exclusion from it.  It is true that the ancient Church did not reflect on it in a systematic way although she was confronted by the Gnostic heretics who accepted women to priesthood even to the rank of the bishop, as it is also true that the Church excluded women from it only because Christ appointed only men as his Apostles, excluding even his own Mother Mary from it.  At this point Jesus Christ’s decision was in line with specific substantial theological considerations stemming from the overall nature of the divine Economy of Salvation which expresses the conditions existing in the Holy Trinity.  In this respect two fundamental presuppositions call for consideration here i.e. a) the ultimate reference of priesthood to God the Father as its source on account of His personal quality of Fatherhood and hence the cause of all, through his own Son, and b) the conception of the woman’s place in the divine Economy on an equal footing with man.  Let us see these points in detail.


A.  In Scripture God’s fatherhood refers equally to “Theo-logy” and to the “Economy”, being identical to “Principium Divinitatis”.  In other words, being a Father God is the sole reason, source and cause of the life and the existence of everything which exists.  In particular, on account of His divine nature, God the Father is eternally and timelessly the cause of the existence of the other two Persons of the Holy Trinity, i.e. of the Son, by birth and of the Holy Spirit, by procession.  On the other hand, on account of His divine will and energy, God the Father is the Creator of the entire universe, visible and invisible, in time.  Hence the word “Father” is God’s personal name revealed in history, exactly as the words “Son” and “Holy Spirit” are the personal names of the second and the third persons of the Holy Trinity, correspondingly.  Revealed to the world these names are those by which the three of the Godhead became known to it, and by which each person is distinguished from the other two, and also through which their mutual relations, are defined.  Each name therefore, indicates the distinctive quality of the person who bears it, i.e. his peculiar mode of existence as well as his peculiar relations to the other persons.  This means that no divine person can take the name and the peculiar mode of existence of any of the other two  other two because each name is absolutely connected with the corresponding person and cannot be replaced by any other name.             

     Things are absolutely clear, therefore, in the Bible, with respect to the holy Trinity.  And so, the Messiah promised in the Old Testament [lxxxii] is “the only Son who is in the bosom of the Father” (John 1,18) and as such “he reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature” (Heb. 1,3) because “he is the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1,15. 2 Cor. 4,4) and Whom “he has made known” (John 1,18) to the world [lxxxiii].  The authority with which the Son revealed God as Father, his own Father, stems from the most intimate mutual relationship that exists between them, a relationship of unity in substance to the extent that only the Son can say “I and the Father are one” (John 10,30) or that “the Father is in me and I am in the Father” (John 10,38. 14,20) and therefore “if you know me, you would know my Father also” (John 8,19) and “if you had know me, you would have know my Father also” and “henceforth you know him and have seen him”, since “he who has seen me has seen the Father” to the extent that “no one comes to the Father; but by me”(John 14,7-9).

     With respect to the world, on the other hand, and man in particular, we have the contrast between the “fatherhood” of the “gods” of the pagan religions, whom man created out of his own imagination and placed them in his social structures, on the one hand and God’s fatherhood which He Himself revealed primarily as the Father of His own Son by birth and of men by adoption, on the other.  The biblical God never reveals Himself as Mother, or Father-Mother, Brother, or Uncle, as we observe in pagan religions[lxxxiv].  This proves how unbiblical and finally unchristian is the attitude of the advocates of the so called “Feminist Theology” who, applying pagan naturalistic principles, attribute feminine names and qualities to God and to Christ, thus re-writing the Bible or rather writing their own Bible.  Naturalistic elements have been replaced in the Bible by the super naturalistic ones of divine revelation which should be the model in human relationships.  In other words, man’s fatherhood and sonship in the world must express and picture the divine fatherhood and sonship.  In the context of the divine Economy God’s fatherhood is related to man’s faithfulness to Him and not to His  quality as the Creator of the world.  In other worlds, while God is the creator of everything, including man himself, He is nevertheless nowhere in presented Scripture as the Father of all men, indiscriminately, but only of those who are related to Him by faith and obedience and who thus accept  Him as their own God.  For instance, in the Old Testament only Israel is called “son” or “child” of God[lxxxv],while God is called the Father of Israel only[lxxxvi].  This mutually intimate relationship is based on God’s election of Israel as His own “firstborn son” (Exod. 4,22)[lxxxvii], as well as a whole series of God’s interventions in history in Israel’s favor.  Nevertheless, this relationship between God and Israel remains a legal one and as such it is subject to change into a substantial one on the basis of the divine fatherhood and adoption, which we meet with in the New Testament.

     Indeed, in Gal. 4,4-7 Paul presents man’s adoption by God as the very essence of the divine plan of Salvation.  The same picture is given also in Eph. 1,3-5.  What follows in both texts is that the achievement of this goal is described as the result of the co-operation of all three persons of the Holy Trinity, in which the Father’s will for man’s adoption was carried out by the incarnate Son and imprinted within each individual by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Thus changed within, the individual believers are entitled to call God as their own Father, even by the very same expression by which His only Son calls Him. i.e. “Abba, Father” which expresses their innermost relationship (cf. Mk. 14,36. Rom. 8,15).  Ii is even interesting to notice that even the whole creation awaits eagerly to be redeemed from the corruption and decay imposed upon it by man’s fall and sin through man’s own divine adoption as a child of God (Rom. 8,21).  Therefore, “all who are led by the Spirit of God” (Rom. 8,14) and as such they are “heirs of God and co-heirs of Christ”.  It is even more interesting to notice that, according to the Gospel of John, Jesus Christ rejected the pride of the Jesus claiming “we have one Father, even God” replying to them “you are of your father the devil”, simply because they rejected him to be the Son of God” (John 8,41-44).  Divine adoption is achieved by way of the Son Jesus Christ so that by adoption men become what Christ is by birth, so that the Son and the sons “have all one origin” and so Christ “is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Heb. 2,10;11;17).

     It must be noticed, however, that man’s adoption by God the Father is of an ontological nature in the sense that man participates in Christ’s sonship on account of his appropriation of Christ’s clean-from-sin human nature (cf. Rom. 6,3-7. Gal. 3,26-28)[lxxxviii].  On the other hand, adoption as man’s condition and God’s grace refers to the person, not to nature.  If referred to nature it would coincide with the naturalistic outlook of pagan religions where divine fatherhood and man’s sonship coincide with God’s quality as Creator and man’s nature as a creature.  It is obvious that this concept annihilates the efforts of the individual of Christ’s redemptive work, on the other.  But what is even more serious, this concept extends the quality of fatherhood to all three persons of the Holy Trinity, something totally foreign to the Bible.   We can even go further by saying that if fatherhood and sonship are related to nature, there can be no Holy Trinity as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

     Fatherhood, therefore, is an exclusively personal quality of God, the first person of the Holy Trinity and cause of the other two persons, from Whom also “every fatherhood in heaven and on earth is named” (Eph. 3,14-15), and this because there is only “one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all: (Eph. 4,6. cf. 1 Cor. 8,6).  This means that being the cause of men, God is also the cause of their existence and life in Him, working out through the Son in the anthropological recreation.  This further means that God does not only act as Father, but that He is Father in a hypostatic sense because His fatherhood is identified exclusively with His own person and is not transferred to the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Furthermore, since “every fatherhood… and on earth is named” (Eph. 3,15), it follows that man’s fatherhood stems from God’s fatherhood which it expresses and imitates in exactly the same way in which the sonship of the Son is the model of man’s sonship both, with respect to God the Father and with respect to the individual human fathers.

     Now it is evident that in the root of fatherhood there lies the reality of the “γεννήτωρ” (i.e. originator of generator) identified with the fundamental personal characteristics which make up the gender.  In other words, as in the Godhead the Son and the Spirit cannot appropriate to themselves the Father’s fatherhood and so replace Him in this absolutely personal quality and function of His, in exactly the same way also the woman cannot appropriate to herself the exclusively personal quality and function of man and so replace him in his fatherhood, as man cannot appropriate to himself the woman’s absolutely personal quality and function and replace her in her motherhood.  Woman can never become a father, as man can never become a mother, although both, man and woman are of the same substance.  This is so because, as we said above, qualities and their functions refer to the person (gender) and not to substance.  For if they referred to substance they would not be two persons but one, the “αρρενόθηλυς” (male-female) or “ανδρόγυνος” (man-woman) of the Gnostics[lxxxix].  This notion is not only in contrast to the divine model of humanity, but also to the act that God created two distinct persons as expressions of His own image (Gen. 1,27. 2,21-23)[xc], each with a different quality and function, that of fatherhood and that of motherhood, correspondingly.  So, in his personal quality and function man the father images God the Father “from whom every fatherhood, in heaven and on earth is named” (Eph. 1,14. Cf. 4,6).  However, this in no way suggests that God as Father is of male gender, like man.  Fatherhood on the divine level is not appropriate to gender, but it is a mode of existence (of being).  On the contrary, in humanity fatherhood is not a mode of being, but a potentiality which becomes a condition and a quality in time.  But God is always Father and mainly Father, and there was never a “time” when He was not Father[xci].  Man becomes a father only when and if he causes birth, and even so he is always the son of his own father.  The same principal applies also to woman.  Thus, human conditions cannot apply to Divinity, as we can see it happening in the naturalistic outlook of pagan religions and to the so called “Feminist Theologians”, who replace the masculine attributes of the divine Persons in Scripture by feminine or neuter ones[xcii].  Rather, human reality must be conditioned by and express the divine archetypes[xciii].  Even though human nature is imperfect and fluid, human fatherhood is still an imitation of God the Father’s perfect fatherhood.  And of the two human persons fatherhood is fit to man alone who by construction and gender   bears within him its function as a generator of life, and so he images in himself, though in an imperfect way, God the Father’s quality and represents Him functionally in creation while woman, on the other hand, as thought stressed later, images functionally in herself the Holy Spirit.  Thus, being the son of his own father, by partition or distribution, man becomes also the father of his own son, with the co-operation of woman[xciv].  Imaging, however, excludes the possession of these qualities originally and autonomously and allows their possession in communion with them even in a potential way.

     This leads us to the heart of the problem because, imaging in himself God the Father in His fatherhood, even in a potential way, man alone can also image Him functionally in himself in His divine offices, the priestly, the royal and the prophetic one, of which God the Father alone is the source and principle and from Whom even the Son received them at his eternal birth from Him (Heb. 5,5-6).  This implies that, since God the Father alone is the source and principle of these divine offices, even the Son does not possess them by his win right; he only possesses them by concession and assignment (Cf. Heb. 5,5-6), and so, too, his own Apostles and their successors, up to this day[xcv].

     The principle of imaging and representation, therefore, which we stressed before, refers successively all aspects of the divine Economy back to the “Principium Divinitatis” of divine fatherhood[xcvi].  This is to say that as the Son was sent to the world by the Father, Whom he images and represents and I Whose name he acted redemptively (John 5,43. 8,42. 10,25)[xcvii],so also the Apostles were sent to the world by the incarnate Son acting “in persona Christi” and by extension “in persona Dei”.  This is why St. Ignatius of Antioch calls them “types of Christ” and ultimately “types of God”[xcviii].  As a matter of fact this was the way the Apostles thought of themselves, i.e. as “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (2 Cor. 5,19) and as He dwelt in him “he did His works” (John 14,10), likewise the Apostles are described by Paul as “servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor. 4,1) and as “ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through them” (2 Cor. 5,20)[xcix].  Through priesthood which they received from Jesus Christ, the apostles continued his redemptive work in the world, which is in fact God’s own work, because He is the supreme author of divine Economy[c].  As Jesus Christ led by his saving work “many sons to glory” (Heb. 2,10f) and made them his own “children”[ci], so also the Apostles became “the fathers in Christ Jesus through the gospel” to all those who accepted their kerygma (1 Cor. 4,14-15. Cf. 2 Cor. 6,13), who thus are the apostles’ “children”[cii].  This is s spiritual kind of relationship, a spiritual fatherhood and spiritual sonship, because the Apostles are the Christians’ fathers in Christ, as Paul signifies (1 Cor. 4,14-15).  This relationship continues ever since in the life of the Church through the successors of the Apostles who likewise share in Christ’s priestly office.

     From what has been said above, it has become very clear that the restriction of the priestly office to man alone does not imply a violation of the “natural rights” of woman.  As a matter of fact priesthood is not anyone’s “right”, man’s or woman’s.  Rather, it is only a potential and functional imaging of the divine priesthood of God the Father through Jesus Christ.  And as such it can only be imaged by man alone, connected with his potential and functional imaging of the divine fatherhood which cannot be imaged by woman.  Woman’s role in the divine Economy differs from man’s in that she images functionally the role of the Holy Spirit who assists Christ in his saving work in the Church.

     Indeed, according to the Bible, Salvation is the work of all three persons of the Holy Trinity, in which the Father wills, the Son carries out or fulfills the Father’s will, and the Holy Spirit implements and perfects it within each individual believer.  This fundamental principle and reality is the starting point for the typological interpretation of man’s and woman’s place and corresponding roles and functions the Church.  And it is exactly this typological foundation which defined the doctrine of the ancient Church, according to which priesthood was restricted to man while woman was excluded from it.  In this way, the co-operation (συνέργεια) of the Son an the Spirit in the work of Salvation, for the realization of the will of the Father, through two different functions and roles is extended and imaged, in a typological way of reference, to the co-operation between man and woman through different functions and roles within the Church where Salvation continues to the end of time (έσχατον).

     According to this typological reference, Mary the Theotokos lifted Eve’s disobedience to God.  In other words, as through her disobedience Eve became the cause of her own fall as well as of the fall of the whole humanity in a hereditary way, so also Mary through her obedience to the will of God, became, the cause of her own salvation as well as of the salvation of all humanity after her because, through the creative power of the Holy Spirit upon her the incarnation of the eternal Son of God became possible, who thus recapitulated (ανεκεφαλαίωσεν) in himself the first Adam becoming himself, as man, the “last Adam” and so the generator of all those who receive him and are thus saved by him.  The Holy Spirit who “moved upon the face of the waters”(Gen. 1,2) and who by his creative power brought the world into being came also creatively upon Mary whom he cleansed from the original sin and made her able to give birth to God’s  Son into fallen creation.  Hence, the Holy Spirit who brought creation into existence made also possible its recreation and salvation and so Mary became the “first fruits” of the new humanity.  This is why Mary’s annunciation prefigures Pentecost, since the coming of the Spirit upon Mary parallels to the coming of the Spirit to the Church in Pentecost.

     Mary’s special functional relation to the function of the Holy Spirit aiming at lifting the consequences of Eve’s disobedience, proved her to be the recipient “par excellence” of the special gifts of the Holy Spirit as “κεχαριτωμένη” (the most gifted one) and therefore the “type” of the charismatic members of the Church.  As a matter of fact, here lies the typological relationship between the function of Mary’s motherhood and the motherhood of the Church which are both pneumatocentric, for both receive the Holy Spirit by whose energy Christ is born from the Virgin Mary, on the one hand, while the believers are born in the Church as children of the new humanity in Christ, on the other.

     Therefore, as the Holy Spirit’s peculiar function is typologically imaged in woman’s function within the Church through the Theotokos, likewise Christ’s peculiar function is typologically imaged in man’s function through him.  Woman’s typology is pneumatocentric, because she is the recipient of the special gifts of the Holy Spirit, while man’s typology is Christocentric, because he is the recipient of Christ’s three offices among which priesthood possesses a prominent place, which as an iconic typology refers to the mystery of Christ.  In other words, in contrast to the iconic Christocentric priesthood of the priests in the Church, woman’s  pneumatocentric function corresponds iconically to the function of the Holy Spirit which, like woman’s function, refers directly to the mystery of Christ.  As such, as the different functions of Christ and of the Holy Spirit express the co-operation (συνέργειαν) of these two divine persons in the work of Salvation for the realization of the Father’s will, without abolishing their equality in the Trinity as well as in the Church itself, so also the different functions of man and woman in the Church express their co-operation within it, without abolishing their consubstantiallity and equality as “images” of the  Trinitarian Godhead.

     Rooted in this revelatory reality, therefore, Church conscience stressed the peculiarity of man’s relation to the priestly office of Christ, on the one hand and the peculiarity of woman’s relation to the special gifts of the Holy Spirit, on the other, for the realization of the action of the Holy Spirit in the body of Christ, i.e. his Church.  Any change or reversal in man’s and woman’s functions within the Church results in the reversal of the functions and roles in relation to Christology and Pneumatology.  This is exactly what happens in the case of those Christian Confessions which have accepted women, too, into priesthood.


B’.  When we turn to the examination of the N.T. evidence concerning woman’s functional role in the divine Economy we observe from the start that views are divided with respect to the interpretation of the same texts.  Thus, those supporting the view about woman’s functional role in priesthood on an equal footing with man rely heavily on Gal. 3,27-28, while those supporting the view against woman’s functional role in priesthood rely on 1 Cor. 14,34-35 and 1 Tim. 2,9-15 where St. Paul forbids women to teach in Church during worship, because, in their view, according to 1 Cor. 11,2-16, woman is not created in the image of God, but in the image of man.

     Both views reflect a misinterpretation of the texts, however.  In particular, with respect to the first one relying on Gal. 3,27-28, it must be stressed that Paul stresses here the ontological nature of the equality between man and woman “in Christ” regardless of sex, ethnic or social origin, because at baptism man and woman “put on Christ” by appropriating to themselves his own human nature clean from sin, and so are united with him and with each other.  Through baptism human persons are united with each other into one body, “the body of Christ which is the Church, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1,22-23)[ciii].  This is to say that all human persons, indiscriminately, receive the same merits of Christ’s work, because Christ as the last Adam to its original condition.  Restored human nature results in the restoration of the individual as a whole when he appropriates Christ’s work by faith at baptism (Rom. 6,1-11)[civ].  What is different between man and woman is their different place and function in divine Economy, on account of their different qualities peculiar to each[cv], as it will be shown later.

     On the other hand, the view that Paul’s prohibition of women to teach in Church at worship stems from the misconception that the Apostle did not regard woman as having been created “in the image of God”, like man, but that instead she was created in the image of man.  This view, supported also by certain Church fathers[cvi], is not only foreign to the letter and the spirit of the relevant texts (1 Cor. 14,34-35. 1Tim. 2,9-15. 1.Cor. 11,2-16), but it also introduces the notion of the ontological difference between man and woman[cvii], which contradicts not only the idea of the consubstantiality of the two human persons, which is clearly shown by the fact that Eve was made out of Adam’s rib (Gen. 2,21-24)[cviii], but also the fact that both, man and woman, were offered an equal opportunity by God to participate in the salvation worked out by Christ[cix].  Paul is the theological “par excellence” of the ontological unity between man and woman Christ and his Church, a unity which cannot be thought of unless we accept the principle that both have been created in God’s image.  As a matter of fact Paul alone of all N.T. authors repeats Christ’s saying which confirmed the teaching of Genesis 1,26-27 and 2,21-24 (Cf. 5,1-2. 9,6) that God “from the beginning made them male and female”[cx].  Therefore, we must look for the real reasons behind Paul’s ruling that women must not teach in Church and of his recommendation that women should pay the honor due to man[cxi].

     Now, of the three texts mentioned above only in 1 Tim. 2,11-15 Paul rules that women must not teach in Church, while in 1 Cor. 11,2-16 he says that “any woman who prays and prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head” (v.5) which is man.  He does not forbid women to pray and prophecy at all, like men, but he rules that while they do so, they should put a veil over their head in order not to dishonor their head which is man.  Praying and prophesying in Church, therefore, applies equally to all members of the Church, men and women alike.  This is in agreement with 1 Cor. 14,1-40 where he speaks about the order that must be maintained in worship during which various spiritual gifts were functioned by all believers, men and women alike, indiscriminately.  And it is this context that the Apostle rules that “the woman should keep silence in the churches; For they are not permitted to speak”(vs. 34-35).  What was the reason for this?  The answer is given by him: “if there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home.  For it is shameful for a woman to speak in Church” (v.35).  It is evident that the ruling in v. 34 stems from the women’s habit to ask various question to those who functioned in gifts as a result of which worship was disturbed and order went out of control.  This is verified in Tim. 2,11 where he repeats “Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness.

     Consequently only in 1 Tim. 2,12-15 Paul rules that “I permit no woman to teach or have authority over men; she is to keep silent”.  The reasons he gives for this are, first that “Adam was formed first, then Eve”, and second, that “Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor”.  It is obvious that both reasons relate this ruling to that in 1 Cor. 11,2-16, where man’s priority over woman as her “head” is stressed, for the same reason that “man was not from woman, but woman from man.  Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man” (v. 8. Cf. also v. 12 “woman was made from man”).  The common denominator of both rulings, therefore, (1 Tim. 2,12-15 and 1 Cor. 11,8;12) is the divinely appointed place for man and woman in the order of creation before its fall which is now restored in the Church, and so the word of creation is introduced again by the word of salvation.

     More particularly, continuing his instructions to the Corinthians about their proper attitude on several occasions, Paul refers in 1 Cor. 11,2-16 to the behavior appropriate in worship[cxii].  Here he stands on purely theological ground concerning the doctrine of Genesis about the creation of man and woman in the image of God Who is their model[cxiii].  Obviously Paul condemns a Greek custom, according to which, in contrast to the Jewish one, women attended worship services without a veil on head and with short hair, while men attended them having long hair[cxiv].  For Paul this custom is a “disgrace” for both, man and woman, because it unfits the proper behavior towards each other which stems from each one’s specific place in the order of creation[cxv].  In other words, the root of the matter here is not the custom as such and its origin, upon which modern scholars built their interpretation of the text[cxvi], by applying social criteria to Paul’s teaching and so diminishing its value, but rather the fact that this habit reverses the divinely appointed place of man and woman in creation and which reversal is unacceptable in the Church where this order is restored.  In fact, for Paul the veil on the head and the long hair are symbols of submission which befits woman, while the unveiled head and short hair are symbols of power and authority which befit man.  Their reversal is arbitrary indicating the appropriation of the order of creation belonging to the other sex[cxvii].  This initiative dishonors their corresponding head.  In other words, if woman by her own initiative appropriates to herself, the place allotted to man, she “dishonors her head”, i.e. man, and if man by his own initiative appropriates to himself the place allotted to woman, he “dishonors his head”.  i.e. Christ “in his humanity”[cxviii].

     Paul’s successive description of man as woman’s head, of Christ as man’s head, and of God as Christ’s head (11,3-4) relates the entire issue of man’s and woman’s place in the order of creation and their respective relationship towards each other, which stems from it, to the very order of the persons in the Holy Trinity and their relationship to each other which stems from it.  The order of the persons in the Trinity and their mutual relationship in the model of the order of man and woman in creation and their mutual relationship.  As the order of the persons of the Trinity and their mutual relationship cannot be altered, so also can not alter the order of the human persons and their mutual relationship in creation, which is restored in the Church.  When f.e. Paul describes God as Christ’s head, he definitely means that Christ cannot possibly take God’s place and thus become His head and Father’s, i.e., His reason and cause.  If God ceased to be the Father (i.e. cause) of the Son, then Christ would no longer be the Father’s Son, and God would no longer be the Son’s Father.  Reversing the order of the persons equals to reversing their exclusively personal qualities and so of their mutual relationship which stems from them.  Such an idea is unthinkable for Paul, and the same reason is theologically unthinkable the reversal of the human persons (sexes) which defines their relationship towards each other, on account of their exclusively personal qualities appropriate to their gender.  For Paul a specific order of persons exists in both, the Holy Trinity and humanity, the latter made in the image of the former.  This order consists in a successive dependence which goes all the way back to God the Father, Who is the source and cause of all[cxix].

     Furthermore, man’s description as woman’s head, which sets his priority in the order of creation, and its ultimate reference to the Godhead, is also emphasized by man’s description as “the image and glory of God” and by woman’s description as “the glory of man” (1 Cor.11,17).  This led many past and recent interpreters to the conclusion that Paul here denies the creation of woman, too, “in the image of God”[cxx].  This is wrong, however.  These expressions are similar to those describing man as woman’s head, in proportion to God’s description as Christ’s head.  Paul is intentionally accurate here when he describes only man as “the image and glory of God” and woman as “the glory of man”.  The question is not about the ontological difference between man and woman, but rather about man’s place in creation as an image of God the Father, i.e. about his priority in creation as an image of God’s priority in the Holy Trinity.  In other words, on the human level man reflects what God is on the divine level.  At the same time, however, woman’s description as “the glory of man” defines her place in creation second to man, although she, too, has been created “in the image of God”.  The same principle applies in the case of Christ, as far as his place in the Holy Trinity is concerned.  For although he is consubstantial with the Father, as “the image of God” (Col. 1,15. 2 Cor. 4,4) and the reflection of “the glory of God and bearing the very stamp of his nature” (Heb. 1,3), he nevertheless occupies the second place after Him, having thus no priority over Him.  It is for this reason, i.e. as “the image and glory of God”, that man “ought not to cover his head”, because by covering his head man expresses submission to woman, a thing which distorts the order in humanity set by God.  Woman, on the other hand, “ought to have an authority over her” (1 Cor. 11,7;10), because she is second to man (1 Tim. 2,11).

     Where does man’s priority over woman in creation come from?  According to Paul, this comes from the divine act of their creation itself, recorded in Genesis, according to which, man was created first, not woman, who was made for him, and not the other way around (1 Cor. 11,8: “For man was not made from woman, but woman from man”, Gen. 2,22-23) and that woman was originally made a helper for man (1 Cor. 11,9: “Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man”; Gen. 2,18: “Let us make him a helper for him”).  In other words, from the very beginning man played the role of woman’s generator, being thus the cause of her life and existence on account of his quality of fatherhood.  This is why man is the “image of God” (the Father) in this context.  Having originated from man, however, woman is of the same nature with him, as the Son and the Holy Spirit, on the divine level are of the same nature with the Father, since they both originated from Him[cxxi].  According to Paul, both man and woman are “from God” from Whom are “all things” (11,12) and after that no human person can come into existence without the co-operation of the two: “Nevertheless, in the Lord, woman is not independent of man nor man is independent of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman” (11,11-12).  The place which each person possesses in the order of creation corresponds its own peculiarly personal function which cannot be appropriated by the other since man is the cause of life and woman is his necessary and irreplaceable mate.  They both share the same nature, but differ in function.

     This specifies the exact meaning of man’s “authority” (“εξουσία”, 11,10) over woman and woman’s “submission” (“υποταγή”) to man[cxxii].  Woman’s submission is not understood in the sense of servitude to man[cxxiii], but in the sense of a free recognition and respect on her part of man’s priority over her in creation, in obedience to God’s will.  That this is the meaning of man’s “authority” over woman and woman’s “subjection” to man, respectively, is pointed again out by Paul in Eph. 5,22-23, where he connects the condition in creation before the fall to the Church saying in similar words, “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church, his body, and is himself its Savior.  As the Church is subject to Christ so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands”.  Thus the divinely appointed relationship between the two human sexes in creation before the fall, which was distorted by sin, is restored to its original place in the Church by Christ through the sacrament of Marriage[cxxiv].  Woman’s subjection to man and her respect for him (Eph. 5,33: “φοβήται”0 are determined by man’s love for his wife who is “the weaker sex” (1 Pet. 3,7), which goes as far as his self-sacrifice for her as an expression of love for his own body: “like Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her” and so became “the Savior of his own body” (Eph. 5,23;250.

     Of the two ideas of the Genesis narrative mentioned by Paul in 1 Cor. 11,2-16 (i.e. man’s priority in the act of creation, and woman’s status as “a helper” of man), the first one is again cited by him in 1 Tim. 2,12-15: “For Adam was formed first, then Eve”, to which he adds the fact that “Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived, and became a transgressor” (v. 14).  And it is in view of these two facts that he states his ruling in vs. 11-12: “Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness.  I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over man; she is to keep silent”.  The first part of this ruling repeats that in 1 Cor. 14,34-35, concerning the order in worship disturbed by women when they asked questions to those functioning in their gifts.  Woman attempted to be man’s teacher once before, when she took the initiative to accept Satan’s temptation and drew man also into it (cf. 2 Cor. 11,3), and it resulted in the fall of both, for which initiative she was reproved by God saying “you shall be obedient to your husband, and he shall have authority over you” (Gen. 3,16. Cf. 1 Cor. 14,34).  God’s reproval reminded her of her place second to man in the order of creation which she had violated and reversed by attempting to become man’s teacher which equals to having “authority” over him (cf. Sir. 25,24)[cxxv].  For this reason, woman carries the primary responsibility for the fall.  The real meaning of this prohibition, however does not concern woman’s teaching in church worship, where only men are allowed to function in this role, resembling Christ who is the teacher of the Church “par excellence”.  This kind of relationship between Christ and the Church in this respect must also be the model for the relationship between man and woman[cxxvi].

     Indeed, the main picture about Christ which we get in the Gospels is that of the Son of God acting in a threefold capacity, as a teacher, pastor and highpriest.  He entrusted this capacity also to his Apostles[cxxvii].  And as we learn from the other N.T. books, besides being the leaders of the Church and presiding over worship, the Apostles preached the Gospel ‘in the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 4,18. 5,28. 28,31,etc.), and “every day in the temple and at home did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” (Acts 5,42 cf. 4,2) “in public and from house to house” (Acts 20,18,21).  Their sense of duty in preaching the Gospel is repeatedly emphasized by Paul who was “set apart for the Gospel of God” (Rom. 1,1)[cxxviii] declaring ‘if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting.  For necessity is laid upon me.  Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Cor. 9,16-18).  Therefore, preaching the gospel “in public and from house to house” (Acts 20,18-21), i.e. kerygma and didache, was part of the Apostles’ main which comprised the overall apostolic work.  And as the Church expanded outside Judaea they had entrust other persons, too, with the same task[cxxix].  As we learn from the book entitled “Didache” (XI,1-11), dating from the end of the first century A.D., teaching in the Church in the apostolic times, was the responsibility of the Apostles and their immediate companions and successors, the prophets.  And when the era of the prophets was coming to an end, the author of the “Didache” urged the local churches to ordain “to themselves bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord, men meek, not interested in money, truthful and tested, for they also function to you as prophets and teachers… and are esteemed among you together with the prophets and teachers” (XV,1-2).  The instruction reminds us of Paul who urged Timothy “what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2,2).

     The office of the teacher, therefore, is connected with the other two offices, i.e. the priestly and the pastoral, and they are all entrusted by ordination, which was not performed on women because of its vicarious significance with reference to Christ.  The christocentric nature of the Church implies that from Christ as head his offices are entrusted to men, not to women, who thus become his living images.  This practice and theology of the primitive Church is recorded in the “Apostolic Constitytions”, a work dating from the middle of the 4th century, saying that “since man is the head of woman and he is ordained into priesthood, it is not fitting to violate creation by neglecting the head and come to the body which comes after it.  Indeed, woman is man’s body because she was made from his rib, and as such she is subject to him, detached from him for the birth of children.  It is God who said “he will be your authority”; indeed, man is woman’s authority because he is her head, too.  And since God did not allow women in the past to teach, how can one allow them to be priests  which is against their nature.  Such an ignorance fits the ungodliness of the Greeks who ordain women priestesses to female goddesses, but it is not in accord with Christ’s ruling” (VII, 28,5. Cf. III, 9,2-4).


IX. Conclusions.

     Summing up the discussion of the evidence we conclude the following:

1.                  According to the Scriptures, priesthood is an office set by God in the context of His plan of salvation aiming at the restoration of His own image and likeness in man which was distorted by fall and sin.  To this end, besides the general priesthood of all members of the community, in the sense of their communion with His saving activity in history (“βασίλειον ιεράτευμα”).  He also established the special priestly office of specific persons who, purified themselves, could work out the purification of all believers and thus draw them closer to God.  In this sense priesthood with the reality and the purpose of the Covenant.

2.                  The source and origin of priesthood is God Himself “from whom are all things” (1 Cor. 8,6), Who granted it to the mediators of the two Covenants, Moses and Christ, which they set it at work in the context of the Covenants by a blood sacrifice, i.e. Moses by the sacrifice of an animal (Exod. 24,8. Heb. 9,19-22), and Christ by the sacrifice of his own body on the cross.  Moses received priesthood at his appointment as the mediator of the old Covenant, along with the offices of the teacher and the leader of the Israelite community (Kahal Jahwe), while Christ the incarnate Son of God, received it at his eternal birth from God the Father (Heb. 5,4-6), i.e. “not according to a legal requirement concerning bodily descent but by the power of an indestructible life” (Heb.7,7) through his own passion and death.  Thus, on account of his divinity, Jesus Christ is “a priest for ever”, without end, “after the order of Melchizedek”.  Christ’s priesthood, in other words, is inherent to his divine nature which means that the nature of the person of each mediator defines also the nature of their respective priesthood so that, while the priestly office of Moses was imperfect, temporary and limited in scope, aiming at the “purification of the flesh” (Heb. 9,13) of the members of the old Covenant, the priestly office of Christ the incarnate Son of God is perfect and eternal and effects the forgiveness of sins “for all time” (Heb. 10,14).

3.                   Each mediator extended his priesthood into the history of the respective Covenant by entrusting it to specific persons whom they consecrated by a sacrifice and ordination.  But while in the Old Testament there were many priests in the history of the Covenant, because Moses and his successors, being human “were prevented by death from continuing in office”, in the New Testament Christ the Son of God, having an everlasting life, holds his priesthood for ever (Heb. 7,22-240 which thus is “απαράβατος”, i.e. not transferable to others.  This means that he remains the only highpriest throughout the history of his Covenant so that his successors in his saving work hold priesthood only in communion with his own priesthood, not autonomously and independent from him, their relation to him in this function being iconic.

4.                  In this capacity, Moses, at God’s command, entrusted priesthood by ordination to Aaron and his four sons whom he consecrated as high priest and priests respectively (Exod. 28-29) and ordered that after them priesthood must be successively entrusted hereditarily to the male members of the tribe of Levi.  In like manner, Christ the  only high priest of the New Testament entrusted priesthood to his own apostles whom he consecrated at the institution of the Sacrament of the Eucharist, during his Last Supper, which is tantamount to his own sacrifice on the cross offered once for all time.  The fact that Christ’s priesthood is everlasting and so not transferable to others, gives to the priestly office of his successors a vicarious significance and creates a relation of their dependence on himself, which ultimately goes back through him to God the Father “from whom are all things and for whom we exist”, through Jesus Christ “through whom are all things and through whom we  exist” (1 Cor. 8,5).  Thus representing Christ in the full sense of the word and invested with his own power and authority, the Apostles became “jure divino” the supreme pastors of the Church.  And while the Church was confined to Jerusalem, they handled personally all aspects of her life and activity.  But as the Church expanded outside Judaea and her members multiplied, the apostles transferred part of their own responsibilities to others who acted as their representatives and in their name.  Their first act of this sort was the appointment of the seven Deacons (Acts 6), whose work was connected with the social activity of the Church serving at the tables of the common meals which followed the celebration of the Eucharist.  But when disorders broke out and common meals came to an end, the service of the deacons was transferred from the tables of the common meals to the one table of the Lord in the Eucharist where it remains ever since.  A little later, however, after the church expanded into areas far outside Jerusalem, during her persecution following of Stephen, and new communities were established, the Apostles were practically unable to handle everything in their lives.  So, they entrusted the pastoral duties to the Presbyters who acted in this capacity in the name of the Apostles as their representatives.  The presbyters were appointed by ordination and their duties referred to all aspects of the life of the local communities (worship, didache and administration) except to the right of ordination of other presbyters.  Nevertheless, the Church’s constant and rapid expansion necessitated the ordination of other persons with responsibilities similar to those of the Apostles themselves.  These persons, called Prophets, were the immediate companions of the apostles and came after them in the order of offices, having also the right to ordain other prophets as well and presbyters in local communities.  These prophets differed from those functioning occasionally in the prophetic gift (1 Cor. 12-14), were singled out (elected) by the Holy Spirit and ordained either by the Apostles or by other prophets.  Having thus the fullness of the priestly office, these prophets are called “αρχιερείς” by the author of the “Didache” and succeeded the Apostles, in the function of the apostolic work, in large geographic areas.  And when their era was approaching the end, the prophets, as the “Didache” reports, ordained bishops in small geographic areas, thus securing the continuity of priesthood in the history of the Church, and with it the celebration of the Eucharist till the second coming of Christ, in accordance with his command (1 Cor. 11,25-26).

5.                  With respect to the participation of women in the priestly office of Christ, the New Testament says nothing either in its favor or against it.  Nevertheless, their exclusion from it was not due to social conditions and conceptions prevalent in the primitive Church, as “feminist theologians” maintain, but is grounded on substantial theological issues which the Church was not compelled to explain, although she lived and experience them on her everyday life.  Such issues are the Christocentric nature of priesthood, on the one hand and the divinely appointed place of man and woman in the order of creation before its fall which is restored in the Church, on the other.

          With respect to the first issue, it is important to realize that in his     

     peculiarly personal function as “Father”, i.e. as cause of life on the human level, man images in himself God the Father Who, on account of His divine nature, is the cause of the existence of the Son, by birth and of the Holy Spirit, by procession, while on account of His divine energy, He is the cause of the existence of all creation.  God’s fatherhood being the source “of every fatherhood in heaven and on earth” (Eph. 3,15. cf. 4,6. 1 Cor. 8,6), is imaged in man’s fatherhood who in this capacity is also the cause of woman, from whom she is made.  On n the human level, God’s fatherhood is realized by his adoption of individuals in Jesus Christ so that they become “sons of God”, in a soteriological sense.  This is the ultimate goal of the divine plan of salvation worked out by Christ (Gal. 4,4-7. Rom. 8,14-17) and after him by his Apostles who became the “fathers in Christ through the gospel” (1 Cor. 4,14-15, etc.) of all believers.  Thus of the two human persons, only man can image God in  the capacity in his peculiar quality of fatherhood.

         With respect to the second issue, it is also clear that though ontologically of the same nature, nevertheless man and woman occupy, by divine appointment, different places in the order of creation.  This order stems from the facts: a) that man was created first by God, then woman; b) that woman was made from man as of a father and projector; and c) that woman was originally made as man’s “helper” in their goal to realize God’s plan.  Under these circumstances man is “the head” of woman, as Christ in his human nature is man’s head, and God is Christ’s head.  The ultimate reference of this order to the Godhead makes it inviolable at all levels, divine and human, and at the same time defines, inviolably, too, the mutual relationship between persons in divinity and in humanity.  Thus man has priority and therefore authority over woman in creation, as God has priority and therefore authority over the Son and the Holy Spirit, in the Holy Trinity.  As the Son is “the reflection of the Father” (Heb. 1,3. cf. Col. 1,15. 2 Cor. 4,4), so also man is “the image and the glory of God” (1 Cor. 11,7), while woman is “man’s glory”, as coming second to him in the order of creation.  In this sense, of the two human beings, man alone can come to communion with God’s divine offices in Christ, like priesthood, and function in them, imaging in himself, in creation, God the Father in the Godhead.  Woman on the other hand, must be subject to man, like the Son and the Holy Spirit are subject to the Father from Whom they receive their existence.

         Nevertheless, this divinely set order and relationship was violated by woman through her initiative to accept Satan’s temptation and draw man into it, too, at the fall (1 Tim. 2,14).  Woman’s initiative was an act of authority over man for which she was reproved by God (Gen. 3,16), Who with this reproval reconfirmed her original place second to man as his “helper” and subject to him, in creation.  It is for this reason that she is not allowed by Paul to teach in the Church at worship (1 Tim. 2,12), in which God’s order in creation before the fall is restored by Christ.  Since teaching in the Church belongs primarily to Christ in his prophetic capacity (office), like priesthood and pastorship, which he received from his Father at his eternal birth from Him (Heb. 5,4-6), only men can teach in the Church and function in this office, together with the other offices.  This is the reason why Christ appointed only men as his Apostles on earth, to function as priests, teachers and pastors in the Church.  Given the Christocentric nature of these offices (Cf. 1 Cor. 12,5), it follows that only the male members of the Church, whose head is Christ, are eligible to participate and image in themselves, in their functions, God the Father in Christ.  On the contrary, women can image in the Church the  function of the Holy Spirit, functioning themselves in the various spiritual gifts, like Mary the Mother of Christ who was the “κεχαριτωμένη” par excellence.  As the Holy Spirit is Christ’s “helper” in realizing his saving work within each individual believer, so woman is man’s “helper” both in creation and in the Church, helping the male priests to carry out their work.


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[lxiv] Acts 6,6. 13,3. Tim. 4,14. 5,22. 2 Tim. 1,6.

[lxv] The collection of the sayings of Jewish rabbis from 300 BC to AD200 known as :Pirqe Abboth” begins as follows: “Moses received the law on Sinai and handed it over to Joshua, and Joshua handed it over to the presbyters, and the presbyters handed it over to the prophets, and the prophets handed it over to the men of the Great Synagogue”

[lxvi] See more on this in M.A. Siotis, Die Klassische und christliche Cheirotonie in ihrem Verhaltnis, Athen 1961.

[lxvii] Acts 6,1-6. 13,1-3. 14,23. 1 Tim. 4,14. 5,22. 2 Tim. 1,5.

[lxviii] Cf. H. Strack-p. Billerbeck, Kommentar zum N.T. aus Talmud und Midrasch, Munchen 1922-23, vol. III, p.641. E. Meyer, Ursprung und Anfange des Christentums, 2.Auflage, Stuttgart-Berlin 1921, vol.III, p.155.

[lxix] See M.A.Siotis, The Work of Mark and Barnabas and the Unity of the Apostolic Church, Athens 1971.

[lxx] Cf. my book on the Chronology of the Life of Paul, Athens 1983.

[lxxi] Cf. O. Schmitz, “παρακαλέω, etc”,Th DNT,V, 793,799.

[lxxii] Cf. also 1 Cor. 14,1. Eph. 2,20. 3,5. 4,11. Rev. 18,20. Paul’s ordinaton is also stressed here by John Chrysostom, Interp. In Acts, Hom. XXVII, 2. Migne, P.G. 60,206.

[lxxiii] Contra V. Phidas, op. cit.,who suggests that while the apostles were alive,only they could ordain prophrts.

[lxxiv] This title is indirectly given to Barnabas only in Acts 14,4 and in 1 Cor. 9,5-6, due to Paul’s presence with him.

[lxxv] I fully support the Pauline authorship of the Pastoral Epistles. Cf. my Chronology of the Life of Paul, p.93f.

[lxxvi] Bab. San. 13b.

[lxxvii] Theodore of Moquestia gives a different explanation saying “he means the college of the apostles who were present with him (Paul) and placed their hands together with him, while he as is evident, performed the ordination; he called them all “presbyterium” honorarily”.  Cf. J.A.Cramer, ed., Catenae Graecorum Patrum, vol. VII,p.26.

[lxxviii] Cf. V. Phidas, op. cit.,p.13.

[lxxix]Cf. Rom. 12,6. of 1 Cor. 12,10. 13,2;8. 14,6. 1 Thes 5,20. Acts 19,6. 21,9 etc.

[lxxx] The only indirect confinement of priesthood to men alone can be regarded its entrusting to the male firstborn ones of the tribe of Levi in Num. 3,12 and 8,16.

[lxxxi] The only indirect confinement of priesthood to men alone can be regarded its entrusting to the male firstborn ones of the tribe of Levi in Num. 3,12 and 8,16.

[lxxxii] Cf.Psalms 2,28,39,44,109 etc., 2 Kings 7,14. 1 Chron. 17,13.22,10. 28,6. Isa.7,14. 8,17-18.11,1f. 53,1f etc.

[lxxxiii] Cf. Matth. 3,17 par. 17,5 par 8,29 par. 16,16. 27,43. Lk. 1,32 ;35. John 1,34. 10,36. 11,4. 17,1. 19,7,etc. Also Matth. 11,27. 24,36. Lk. 10,22. John 3,16; 17;35;36. 5,19;21;23;26. 6,40. 14,13 etc., Mk. 14,36. Lk. 11,2. Rom. 8,15. Gal. 4,6 etc.

[lxxxiv] See W.Marchel, Abba Père. La prière du Christ est des Chrétiens, Paris 1971, p. 33f.

[lxxxv] E.g.Exod. 4,22. Deut. 1,31. 8,5. 32,5f ;18. Kings 7,8 ;14. Isa. 43,6-7. 63,16. 64,7. Jer. 31,9 etc.

[lxxxvi] E.g. Deut. 32,7. Ps. 103,13. Tob. 13,4. Mal. 1,6. 3,17. Isa. 63,16. 64,7. Jer. 3,19 etc.

[lxxxvii] Deut. 7,6-8. 14,1-2. Isa. 1,2 etc.

[lxxxviii] Cf. John 1,11-13. 3,3-8. 1 John 3,9. 4,7. 5,4;18. James 1,17-18. 1 Pet. 1,3;23 etc.

[lxxxix] See Irenaeus, Haer. I,I,1. 11,5. Hippolytus, Haer. V,6,7. VI,18. Epiphanius, Haer. 31,1. Gregory Nazianzen, Oratio XXXI,7.

[xc] J. N. Karmiris, The Question of the Priesthood of Women,Athans 1978.

[xci] Cf. Theodoret, In Ephes. Migne, P.G. 82,529: “God is mainly Father and truly Father.  He did not become Son first and then Father, but He is always Father, and Father in substance; the other fathers, no mather physical or spiritual, receive the title from above.  God calls fathers on earth, the natural fathers”

[xcii] Bibliography on this issue is very extensive.

[xciii] Cf. Gregory Nazianzen, Oratio XXXI, On the Holy Spirit, 6: “We should not think we can necessarily transfer the earthly names and affairs to the Divinity, because, according to a relationship, the Son is Son and we cannot indicate otherwise the consubstantiality with God.  You must not also think that because God is also called Father He is male, too, according to the word”.  Cf. also 10: “It is very shameful, and not only but leniently vain, too, to imagine the realities above on the basis of those down below, and the immovable ones on the basis of the movable substance”.  See also Athanasius, On the Nicene Council…,11 Ad Serapionem…, 16 etc.

[xciv] Cf. Athanasius, ibid. : “when man becomes a father, he is also the son of another father: and when he is called son, he became also someone else’s father.  Thus the names father and son cannot derive mainly from men; rather, they are parts of each other; and he who is born has also a part of his own father so that he will be able to become the father of someone else.  But this is not so with reference to God because God is not like man since His essence is not partitive.

[xcv] Cf. Mk. 3,13. Lk. 6,13.  John 6,70. 13,18. 15,16;19.  Acts 1,2;24. 1 Cor. 1,27 etc.

[xcvi] Cf. 1 Cor. 3,21-22. 8,6. Eph. 3,15 etc.

[xcvii] Cf. John 6,40. 8,18-19. 10,18;30-38.14,6-11.15,10-23. 17,21-24.

[xcviii] St. Ignatius calls even the bishop “a type of the Father”, cf. Ephesians 3,2. 4,1. Trallians 3,1. Smyrnaeans 8,1-2. Cf. also Isidore of PelusiuEpist. 1,136. Migne, P.G. 78,272.  Very interesting is also the description of the bishop in the Apostolic Constitutions II, 26,4: “He is the servant of the word, the guardian of knowledge, the mediator between God and you in our prayers to Him; he is the teacher of our faith, your   father after God, because he regenerated you for adoption by water and Spirit; he is your lord and leader, your king and ruler, your God on earth after God Himself, for which reason he must cherish the honor due to him on your behalf…,for the bishop must preside over you honored with the honor which comes from God”.

[xcix] Cf. 1 Thes, 2,2;4;8;9;12;13. Rom.1,1;9.15,16;19 1 Tim. 1,11.

[c] Cf. John  4,34. 5,36. 10,25-28. 17,4 etc.

[ci] Cf. Matth. 9,2. Mk. 2,5. 10,24. John 13,33.

[cii] 1 Cor. 4,17. Phil. 2,22. 1 Tim. 1,2;18. 2 Tim. 1,2. 2,1. 1 Pet. 5,13. 1 John 2,1;12;28. 3,7;18. 4,4. 5,21. Gal. 4,19. 1 Thes. 2,7-11. Tit. 1,4. Philm. 10.

[ciii] See extensively in C. S. Voulgaris, The Unity of the Apostolic Church, p. 108f, 126f, 200ff.

[civ] Cf. St. Basil, Epist. 262,1: “We ourselves know and are conscious that every human person in equal to all according to nature”. Cf. also Ibid., Hom. In Ioulita martyr, 2, and Gregory Nyssen, Hom. I in Gen. 1,26.

[cv] Cf. Gregory Nyssen, On man’s creation, 16.

[cvi] See f.e. Diodorus of Tarsus, In Genesin. Migne, P.G. 33, 1564: “What is the reason, therefore, that Paul calls man an image of God and not woman, too, since according to the soul’s reason man is God’s image…  Therefore, since the one who does not have to cover his head is head is God’s image, it is evident that woman who covers her head is not God’s image, though she is of the same soul …”.  Theodoret, In 1 Cor. 11,7; “Man is an image of God neither in body nor in soul, but only in authority.  He is called God’s image because he has been given authority over all things on earth. On the contrary, woman, placed under man’s authority is his glory, like an image of the image.  Of course, she also has authority over every thing else, but she is instructed to be subject to man”.  Cf. also Chrysostom, In Gen. Hom. VIII, 4. Ibid., In Gen. Oratio II,2.  Cyrill of Alexandria, Interpr. In Cor. 11,7. etc.

[cvii] This notion is suggested by Cyrill of Alexandria, op. cit.

[cviii] According to Prof. M.A. Siotis, The New Testament on the Equality of the two sexes, Athens 1982, p.2, note 33, “The formation of Eve out of Adam’s rib shows the identity of the species, the anthropological unity between male and female, and the strong personal attraction between them aiming at their mutual understanding and completion of the one by the other”.

[cix] Gal. 3,27-29. 1. Cor. 12,12f. Cf. M. A. Siotis, op. cit.,p.18, note 29 : « The equality between man and woman cannot be possibly understood unless we accept the fact that she, too, has been created in the image and likeness of God, a fact which is the presupposition for the recognition of women as saints by the Church of Christ”.

[cx] Matth. 19,4f. Mk. 10,6f. Eph. 5,31.

[cxi] 1 Cor. 11,2-16. Eph. 5,22f. Col. 3,18-19. Tit. 2,5. Cf. 1 Pet. 3,1-6.

[cxii] The notion of several modern interpreters that this pericope is a later interpolation shows their inability to grasp the real theological background of Paul’s thought on the issue.  Cf. f.e. H. Conzelmann, A Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians, Philadelphia 1975, p. 182f. R. Oster, “When man wore veils to worship.  The historical Context of I Corinthians 11,4”, NTS 34 (1988) 481ff, and the bibliography cited there.

[cxiii] Gen 1,26-27. 5,1-2. 9,6 etc.  That a similar concept occurs also in Platonic and Stoic Philosophy 9Cf. H. Conzelmann, op. Cit.), does not diminish the value and the originality of the biblical text.

[cxiv] Cf. Chrysostom, In 1 Cor. Hom. XXVI, 1. It is possible also that this custom has been imported from pagan worship which women attended without a veil.

[cxv] Cf. Theodoret, Interpt. In 1 Cor. 11,13-15:”…it should be regarded as a dishonor to God Who gives the hair when woman comes without the proper shame and honor”.

[cxvi] Areview of the most important interpretations of 1 Cor. 11,2-16 can be found in L. Mercadante, From Hierarchy to Equality: A Comparison of past and present Interpretations of 1 Cor. 11,2-16 in relation to the charging Status of women in Society, Vancouver 1978. Cf. also R. Oster, op. cit.

[cxvii] Cf. Chrysostom, In Cor. Hom.XXVI,5: “Many and different symbols are given to man and to woman. F.e. to the first is given the symbol of authority, while to the second is given the symbol of submission… And since they are symbols, man and woman sin when they confuse the order and God’s order, and transgress His boundaries, which results to man’s coming down to woman;s meanness and woman’s revolt against woman by her form…Hence, reversing these terms you can see how many harmful things take place… The transgressor confuses everything and betrays the gifts of God and throws down the honor given to him from above; not only man, but woman, too.  For it is a great honor to her to maintain the original order, while it is shameful to revolt against it”.

[cxviii] Theodoret, Interpr. In 1 Cor. 11,3.

[cxix] 1 Cor. 8,6. 11,3;12. 3,21-23. Eph. 3,14-15. 4,6 etc.

[cxx] For those Church fathers supporting this idea, see note 106 above.  For the views of recent interpreters cf. E. Lohse, “Imago Dei bei Paulus”, in LibertasChristiana: F. Delekat zum 65. Geburstag, hrsg.,E. Wolf-W.Matthias, Munchen 1975, p. 122-135. F. W. Eltester, Eikon im Neuen Testament, Berlin 1958. J. Jervell, Imago Die: Gen. 1,26f. im Spatjudentum, in der Gnosis und in den paulinischen Briefen, Gottingen 1960. Kittel,“εικών „, ThDNT, XI,396-397. Cf. also the Commentaries on First Corinthians.

[cxxi] Cf. Photius, in J. A. Cramer, ed., Catenae Graecorum Patrum, vol. V, p. 208: “God the Father is Christ’s head as his generator and projector and homoousios; man is woman’s head, because he, too, is her generator and projector and homoousios with her.  The analogy is consequent and proper;… God allowed man to have authority over the other creatures but kept him under His own power and authority.  He did not place another Lord and ruler over him”.

[cxxii] 1 Cor. 14,34. Eph. 5,22f. Col. 3,18. 1 Tim. 2,12. Tit. 2,5. Cf. 1 Pet. 3,1;5,6.

[cxxiii] Cf. Chrysostom, In 1 Cor. Hom. XXVI,2: “If Paul had in mind to emphasize authority and submission, he would not speak about woman, but rather about lord and servant.  If woman is subject to us, she is so as woman, i.e. as free and equal in honor.  The Son, too, though he became obedient to the Father, he did so as Son of God, as himself God”.

[cxxiv] Cf. Theodoret, In Genesin, Migne, P.G. 80, 128: “The creator of the word decided to join the two sexes into harmony.  To this end he created Adam from the earth and formed woman from Adam in order to show the identity of nature and put in them a natural attraction for each other.  While these things have been so ordered and men fight against women and women and women fight against men what would they do if God had formed woman in a different way.  Hence it was wise to divide them and join them again, because marriage joins the sexes into one, for it is said that the two shall become one flesh.  That this is so, it becomes evident from the result.  For intercourse produces through marriage one fruit from both which, planted by man and nourished by woman, becomes effective by the Creator of the world”.

[cxxv] This is how Church fathers interpret 1 Tim. 2,12. cf. Didymous Alexandrinus, In Genesin (Toura), 192,218, 238, 246.  Chrysostom, In 1 Tim. Hom. IX,1. Migne, P.G. 62,544f. Theodoret, Interpr. In 1 Tim. 2,12. Migne, P.G. 82,801. Oecumenius, Interpr. In 1 Tim. Migne, P.G. 119, 156.Theophylact, Interpr. In 1 Tim. Migne, P.G. 125,40.

[cxxvi] Cf. Theophylact, Ibid., Migne, P.G. 125,37. Oecumenius, Ibid.,Migne, P.G. 119,156.

[cxxvii] Cf. Matth. 10,5-6. Mk. 6,7. Lk. 9,1-2. Cf. also Matth. 28,19-20. Mk. 16,15. Lk. 24,47-48. John 10,21. Acts 1,6-8. 10,42 etc.

[cxxviii] Cf. Eph. 3,7. Acts 15,7. 20,24. Rom. 1,16. 15,16;19. 1 Cor. 15,1. Eph. 6,19. 1 Thes.2,2;8;9. 1 Tim. 1,11 etc.

[cxxix] Cf. Acts 13,1-3. 1 Cor. 12,28f.  Eph. 4,11. James 3,1. Rom. 12,7. Heb. 13,7.  


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