These women plus many more are mentioned in the Bible as part of the Lord’s story in someway.
If you look deeper you know there are many more things these women have in common other than just the Bible. Their strength of character resounds loudly through the scriptures. They are strong, respected, and faithful women. They are of importance to the Lord’s story. But we are able to see all of this played out because the Lord chose to give us the Bible to read, study, understand, and put to use.
We can look at some of the women mentioned and see the part they play, such as Lydia, our first “Christian business woman.” She was also known as one who would open her home up for what we know as corporate worship. Then there’s Priscilla, yes wife of Aquilla, but also one who was a leader in the Ephesian church. She helped in discipleship especially to a man named Apollos, and just happened to be written ahead of her husband three out of the six times we see them mentioned in the Bible, some say this can speak significantly to Priscilla. We could talk all day just about the role each woman mentioned in the Bible had in the spreading of Christianity, but what is the real reason why looking deeper at these Godly women is so important? Why is it so important that we teach everyone in our communities about these women and how the Lord wrote the story with them playing bigger roles than what we would normally expect?
These women and the Bible can help us better understand a question that is on everyone’s mind in today’s time, what is the role of women in ministry, in our churches, and in our communities?
For me this question was exceptionally important as I navigated my own calling in minister. Looking deeper and deeper into sermons, articles, and scripture, I found myself more confused than before. I asked myself many questions, the biggest question being, “Why would we limit our God by limiting what role women are allowed to have in ministry?” I began to think of it as putting our God in a box, by choosing what we want to believe instead of looking at all of scripture and what exactly our Lord tells us in every verse.
That’s when I decided to look at it differently. I turned off my anger, frustration, confusion, and tried to look at scripture the way my Father in Heaven would, not completely possible but a girl can try right? I took a step back and tried to remember who He is, what the Bible tells me about His character, then tried to study again.
I looked at the hard verses, verses such as 1 Corinthians 14: 34 where Paul says:
“Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak but they are to be submissive as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.”
We also have 1 Timothy 2: 11-12 where Paul says: “Let a women learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.” Not going to lie, the very first time I ever read these verses, I felt very defeated. I wasn’t sure why Paul would shut women down like that, especially when there are so many women that Paul denotes as prophetess, teachers, healers, etc. So, naturally I decided to seek out why Paul would say things such as this and found my answer.
I found it easy for me to read this passage and just say oh women aren’t supposed to really be in ministry if Paul is silencing us in the church but then I received some worthy advice, really look at the context of the scripture. After looking deeper, I found that in in both of these scriptures Paul is talking to a certain group. In 1 Corinthians he is talking to a group that happens to be women that is disrupting worship to the Lord. He was making it known that worship is a time to adore and give glory to our King, not to ask questions and make unnecessary noise. He wasn’t silencing the group simply because they were women.
I then looked at the contents behind the scripture in 1 Timothy, and found that in these verses it can once again be taken out of context. If you look deeper you can see Paul making this a verse of correction to both men and women, yes both men and women. In the verses before 11 and 12, you see Paul addressing how men were to pray, “lifting their holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” Then you see Paul go on to address a group of women of high status who wanted to come in and be teachers and leaders in the church in Ephesus, where he does say “women are to learn in submission.” He is correcting this group of women, not because they were women but because they should be properly instructed on how to lead and teach for the Kingdom before they were given the ability to do so in the church.
Paul gives us these scriptures to teach, correct (not condemn), and lead us in the way that the Lord would want us to go, not to box in someone’s ability based off their gender.
Moral of the story: think about our God, think about His character, His sweetness, His kindness, His grace and mercy, His love, everything about Him, then think about the scripture which He gave us, to read, study, understand, and live by. He says “I created man in My image, male and female I created them.” He gave each of us gifts, qualities, abilities, to use to spread His name, His word, and bring others home to the Kingdom. The Lord didn’t specify what gender was allowed to bring others to Christ, He said “therefore go out and make disciples of all nations.” He didn’t say men, go out or women go out, He just said go.
And remember, Jesus was radical for his time. He sat with women in his midst, spoke with tax collectors, welcomed children, and loved on lepers. So here’s to us seeing the world through his eyes alone!
Tennessee Baptist Churches giving through the Cooperative Program, the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions, and through the Chilhowee, Clinton, and Knox Baptist Association make this BCM ministry possible.