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Women of the Bible

“When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it. Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either. Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.” Mark 16:1-14 (TNIV) When I read this recently in my devotional time, I was struck by something I hadn’t noticed be... Read more
Although there may have been many female prophets in Old Testament times, five receive specific mention. Two of these, the prophetess who bears the son named Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (Is. 8:3) and the prophetess Noadiah who is associated with opponents of Nehemiah (Neh. 6:14), receive brief mention and do not perform the tradition roles of prophecy. The remaining woman prophets, Miriam, Deborah, and Huldah, proclaim God’s Word at critical times in the history of the Old Testament people of God. Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, serves as a worship leader for all the people of Israel (Ex. 15:20) by praising God for his salvation from the mighty Egyptian army. Her opening words are virtually identical to those beginning the great Song of the Sea (vv. 1-19), and so may suggest that... Read more
Titus 2:3-10 3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. 6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. 7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8 and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us. 9 Teach slaves to be subject to thei... Read more
 “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae, so that you may welcome her in the Lord as is fitting for the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a benefactor of many and of myself as well” (Rom. 16:1-2 NRSV). In last week’s Arise, we argued that because the apostle Paul commended the work of Phoebe—a deacon (Rom. 16:1-2)—the tradition of female deacons continued throughout the early centuries, as noted both by the archaeological evidence and also in Christian literature preserved from this period. For example, Clement of Alexandria (150-215 AD), Origen (185-242 AD), John Chrysostom (347- 407 AD) and Egeria—a fifth century pilgrim—refer to female deacons without reserva... Read more
“The Lord gives the command; The women who proclaim the good tidings are a great host” (Ps. 68:11, NASB). As you may know, the question of whether women can serve as deacons has been recently debated among many evangelicals. Since Scripture makes clear that Phoebe served as a deacon in the church in Cenchrea, there is an abundance of historical and archeological evidence that women deacons were upheld by the apostles. Both Clement of Alexandria and John Chrysostom recognize Phoebe was a deacon. This should give us pause! Why? Because the early church not only had the Scriptures to guide them, they were also familiar with the oral teachings of the apostles. Since apostles, like Paul, supported the service of the deacon Phoebe, women’s service as deacons continued throug... Read more
“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them” (Matt. 18:19, TNIV). Recently I heard someone say that while they support women in leadership, ultimately all final authority should be male. They went on to say that though women may exercise their God-given gifts in new spheres of service such as teaching adults, as deacons, or even as a pastor, Scripture teaches that men should exercise ultimate authority in a church, marriage, denomination, or Christian institution. This perspective is commonly held by “soft complementarians” who are willing to grant new opportunities of service to women. While we are grate... Read more
Look at these astonishing verses from Romans 16: I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae, so that you may welcome her in the Lord as is fitting for the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a benefactor of many and of myself as well. Greet Prisca and Aquila, who work with me in Christ Jesus, and who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert in Asia for Christ. Greet Mary, who has worked very hard among you. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. Greet Ampl... Read more
At Christmas, we think a lot about the birth of our Lord Jesus. Protestants don’t give much attention to the woman who carried him in her womb and bore disgrace as one conceiving a child out of wedlock. Yet, perhaps we should! Mary was probably in her early teens (Jewish girls married soon after puberty) when she was visited by the angel Gabriel who told her that she would conceive a child, by the Holy Spirit, who would be called the son of the Most High. Mary told the angel that this was impossible since she was a virgin. The angel explained again that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and the child would be called the Son of God and that nothing was impossible with God. And then we have one of the bravest statements recorded in the Bible. Mary said, “I am the Lord’... Read more
I have just been browsing a website which promotes roles for women and men as God's ordained will for all time. It showed again the enormous power of words to create impressions and convince people of a point of view. History shows that many strong people convinced others that what they promoted was the 'truth' and consistently it has been done by ridiculing those who have a different way of looking at the same facts. I am not writing this merely to criticise those who made the statements I will reproduce below, but mostly as a reminder to those of us who believe in true biblical equality that how we say things is vitally important. We do not want to have a reputation for gaining ground or new adherants by misrepresenting those who have another opinion. We want to recognis... Read more
"Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering" (Mark 5:34, TNIV). "After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and disease...These women were helping to support them out of their own means" (Luke 8:1-2, 3b). Do you wonder why the words and deeds of Christ are not given more attention in the current gender debate? If all of Scripture points to Jesus, and if Jesus’ treatment of women was radically different from his culture, even his religious culture, how do the life and words of Christ inform us today? For clearly Christ not only opposed abuse and patriarchy—the... Read more

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