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Recovering a Woman's Head With Prophetic Authority: a Pentecostal Interpretation of 1 Corinthians 11.3-16

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Early Pentecostals defended the ministry of women by using passages in Acts 2.16-17 and 1 Cor. 11.3-16 to show that the Holy Spirit had empowered women to prophesy. But in Pentecostal churches today, some of the same biblical passages are now used to argue for significant restrictions on the ministry of women. This shift is especially apparent in the interpretation of 1 Cor. 11.3-16.

These contemporary Pentecostals do not seem to realize that the hermeneutic that is used to interpret 1 Cor. 11.3-16 as a passage which limits the ministry of women is the same hermeneutic which is often used to discredit the doctrine of Spirit-baptism. Pentecostal interpreters need to reject this non-Pentecostal hermeneutic and reclaim 1 Cor. 11.3-16 as part of the Pentecostal defense of Spirit-empowered ministries of women. What is at stake is not just the prophetic ministry of women but the fundamental Pentecostal belief that all believers are empowered by the Holy Spirit for ministry.

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Affiliations: 1: Department of Religion, Hope College, Holland, MI, USA, Email:


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