An argument often brought up in discussions about women in church leadership is that Jesus’ twelve apostles were all male, and, because there were no females among the Twelve, this means that women cannot be church leaders.
This argument is usually countered with the fact that, as well as no women, there were also no Gentiles among the Twelve, so if we genuinely want to use the Twelve as a paradigm of people suitable for church leadership we should restrict leaders to Jewish men.
I find neither of these arguments useful in discussions on church leadership because they miss a critical point: Jesus’ earthly ministry occurred before the Church was in existence.
Jesus’ ministry occurred at a vital juncture between the Old Testament and the New Covenant – between “Israel only” and the inclusive, universal Church. The New Covenant had not yet been inaugurated when the Twelve were called. And so, at that time and at that place (Israel), Jesus chose twelve Jewish men to be his first disciples.