By Kristi Woods, Crosswalk.com
The Bible uses the word “man” throughout its pages. All twelve disciples were men. Many of the stories we read center on males, including those of Moses, Abraham, Paul, David and Joshua. But what does the Bible say about women? Much, and you might be surprised. The topic of women as pastors and in leadership positions has become a hot debate within the church. It's best that we look back at the roles women had in the Bible and how God's calling is equally important for men and women.
2 Important Things the Bible Says about Women
1. Women are loved.
John 3:16 assures that God “so loved” the world. This beautiful love extends to women too. Let’s take this to heart and consider it a truth to cherish. Even when we feel unloved, whether caused by turmoil within or due to the actions or words of a sweetheart, child, parent, friend, or others, Jesus loves us. His love remains faithful always.
2. Women are forgiven.
Jesus came to earth to forgive sins. His forgiveness covers those sins society considers big and bad, the ones filling us with shame, and even the seemingly trivial white lies. The Messiah’s forgiveness extends to all, including women. Our Savior shows no favorites but extends the freedom from sin and hope of heaven to all who turn to Him.
What Does Jesus Say about Women in the New Testament?
If we study the New Testament, especially the Gospels, the Bible unfolds story after story of Jesus interacting with women. It starts at the beginning of Jesus’ life when Elizabeth’s baby, John, lept within her womb when Mary, pregnant with Jesus, visited. His life on earth then ends with many women standing witness to His crucifixion, not to mention Mary Magdalene (John 20), who was first to find an empty tomb and recognize Jesus’ voice after His resurrection.
Throughout His years of ministry on earth, Jesus included women—in word and action. He deemed them worthy of concern and healing, even when others didn’t. For example, the disciples admonished the woman who poured perfume on Jesus’ feet. But the Lord welcomed her, as those actions prepared him for burial. In Matthew 9:20-22, He healed the woman who bled for many years. She found relief nowhere else, not even the physicians, but with Jesus she found complete healing. He also healed Peter’s mother-in-law in Luke 4:38-41 and the twelve-year-old daughter of Jarius, even when situations appeared dire or cloaked with death.
Our Savior refused to leave women to fend for themselves. He met them at the point of their need, displaying His generous love and marvelous power.
10 Bible Promises for Women
- You are loved. (Gal. 2:20, John 3:16)
- You are not condemned. (Rom. 8:1)
- You are included. (Eph. 2:19)
- You are accepted. (Rom. 15:7)
- You aren’t alone. (John 16:32)
- You are wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)
- You are free. (John 8:36)
- You are God’s. (John 1:12)
- You are chosen. (Eph. 1:4, Col. 3:12)
- You are no longer a slave to sin. (Rom. 6:6)
What Is a Woman's Role in the Bible?
A quick look around the world today, allows us to see women filling a variety of roles: mothers, daughters, wives, judges, teachers, missionaries, lawyers, corporate leaders, journalists, and more. In the Bible, we find variety in roles women fill as well.
We read about women like Deborah, who held the valued and highly respected position of judge in Israel. As a result of her decisions, the Israelites experienced peace for 40 years. We find brave ones like Rahab who landed in the lineage of Jesus even though her checkered past might have caused many to cast her aside. Also included in the Bible are Hannah, a mother who offered her son for the sake of the Almighty, Anna, a prophetess and one of the first to see the Messiah, Mary, the young mother who carried the hope of the world in her womb, Rhoda, the servant who was first to see Peter after his miraculous release from prison, and Phoebe, a faithful servant in the church. All these women filled different yet important roles.
For more on these women, visit the Bible here:
- Judges 4 (Deborah)
- Joshua 2, 6:22-25 (Rahab)
- 1 Samuel 1 & 2 (Hannah)
- Luke 2:36-38 (Anna)
- Luke 1:26-38, John 19:25-27 (Mary)
- Rhoda (Acts 12:13-15)
- Phoebe (Romans 16:1)
Does the Bible Address Women's Rights?
God lifts women in a beautiful way and offers a strong set of “rights.” In Genesis 3, Eve chose to eat the apple. Hello free choice. The outcome of her resulting action, as well as Adam’s, proved to be the birthing ground for sin—not such a beautiful thing. However, women’s free choice stood as an option from the beginning.
Females, like males, are made in God’s likeness and image according to Genesis 1:27. In Galatians 3:23-29 there is neither male nor female in Christ. All are heirs to the promise. Not only are women given the right to be children of God, but they are given the right to pray as well as be forgiven, healed, delivered, loved, and counseled by the Holy Spirit. They lead like Deborah and minister and teach like Priscilla. They are mothers, wives, daughters, and more.
In New Testament parables, the Lord threads stories of women who sought audience with Jesus and received it. Their voices were heard. These women were seen, healed, provided for, and delivered. (Check out John 7:11-17, Luke 13:10-17, and Luke 1:26-38 for a few of these recounts.) Often, Jesus’ interaction with women flowed against the tradition and understanding of society. But man-made rules didn’t stop Jesus—women either.
What Is the Woman's Role in the Church?
Just as there are varied roles for women in the Bible, life in the church today also provides variation.
Flipping into the pages of the New Testament, we see women like Anna, the prophetess, who was given opportunity to see the Messiah before most others, and the daughters of Philip who prophesied. Priscilla stands tall as a teacher in Acts 18 while Paul commends a lengthy list of women in Romans 16, many who are considered “coworkers” for the cause of Christ.
Should Women Preach?
It’s a common question asked by many: Should women preach? The answer often varies from person-to-person as well as throughout differing denominations and churches. Even scholars disagree as to the understanding of various Bible verses pertaining to women and their roles in the church. (See 1 Cor. 14:34-35 and 1 Tim. 2:11-14.) We’re wise to study the scriptures ourselves, using prayer, commentaries, dictionaries, and study Bibles to understand this question as best we can.
Romans 16, as mentioned previously, offers insight into the lives of several women who served the Lord in various capacities. Paul commends Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea in verses 1-3. Priscilla, a servant of God, is thought to have preached throughout Rome. Romans 16:5 notes a church met at her house, and Acts 18:26 tells of her interaction and instruction in the life of Apollos. Paul mentions Mary in Romans 16:6 and an outstanding apostle named Junias in verse 7. The Bible notes Tryphena, Tryphosa, and Persis in Romans 18:12—all women noted to be hard workers for the Lord.
Scour the various verses for your answer to the question of “Should women preach?”
Read about These 5 Women from the Bible
Other women mentioned in the Bible are worthy of our attention. Their stories spring to life with encouragement, hope, wisdom, and more. Some are heroines. Others are prophetesses. All are women with faith in God. Explore the accounts of these five women:
- Jael (Judges 4)
- Abigail (1 Sam. 25)
- Esther (the book of Esther)
- Nympha (Col. 4:15)
- Apphia (Philemon 1)
God created women in His likeness and image, and their stories display His glory. Some read rather succinctly while other stories linger a bit longer. Regardless, we see females filling a variety of important roles, allowing us to better understand what the Bible says about women.
Kristi Woods is a writer and speaker but mostly a Jesus girl. She writes weekly and offers faith-building tools for a deeper walk with God at www.KristiWoods.net. She contributes regularly at iBelieve.com and Crosswalk.com and is published in various print and online publications. Kristi, her handsome, retired-from-the-Navy husband, and their three children survived a nomadic, military lifestyle and have set roots in Oklahoma--where she keeps close watch for tornadoes and good chocolate. Connect with Kristi at KristiWoods.net.
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