Two special women in the Bible

Top Image 2 special women

When we think of special women in the Bible, names like Mary, Ruth, and Esther usually come to mind. However, I want to focus on two less likely candidates.

Wednesday 9th August is Woman’s Day here in South Africa and so I have chosen biblical characters with whom the average woman is more likely to relate.

Eve

The first woman I will feature is… the first woman… Eve. But, isn’t she the cause of all of humanities problems? Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:14 that ‘Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner’. So why am I citing Eve as someone special?

Adam and Eve were innocent and naive. Moreover, God created them to function as one unit (Genesis 2:24). Satan was highly intelligent, cunning, and charismatic. He approached Eve through a lowly serpent to beguile and mentally seduce her. But, where was Adam? Why was he not protecting and coming between her and the great tempter? And he ate the fruit willingly enough when Eve offered it to him.

When God confronted them, Adam blamed both his wife and God. He said, “The woman you put here with me gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” (Genesis 3:12) Way to go Adam! Eve, on the other hand, immediately confessed what had happened. God pronounced punishment for the serpent, Adam, and Eve, but in the process, He made the promise that Eve’s offspring would crush the serpents head. This was a reference to the Messiah born of Eve’s line thousands of years later to defeat Satan once and for all on the cross of Calvary. Paul alluded to this in the much-misunderstood statement that although woman was the one who originally sinned, she would be ‘saved through childbearing…’ (1 Timothy 2:15). Eugene Petersen’s paraphrase of this verse provides a more natural and understandable interpretation; ‘On the other hand, her childbearing brought about salvation’ (The Message). In other words, although Eve sinned, God still determined that hers would be the genetic line that would eventually birth the saviour into the world. Paul was making this point to ensure that his readers would understand that although he was insisting on proper order in the church he was not suggesting that women are inferior to men.

So Eve, whose name means ‘life’, was indeed deceived, but she also had the honour of being the mother of all humanity and therefore the means by which the Lord Jesus Christ was born into the world… now that is pretty special! She made a terrible error of judgment but God redeemed her failure through the most gracious and momentous way possible.

Eve’s story is one of gracious redemption and is an encouragement to us today. Even if we sin, as Eve did, we can confess our sin and God will not only forgive, but He will also redeem; He will bring good out of the situation.

Priscilla

The other noteworthy woman I want to mention was Priscilla of Acts 18:2-26. Claudius expelled her and her husband, Aquila, from Rome, along with their fellow Jewish citizens. They travelled to Corinth where they earned their living as tent makers. Paul stayed with them when he visited Corinth and they became friends and fellow workers. After a year or two, all three of them departed Corinth for Ephesus where Paul left them and continued his journey. Sometime later, a man named Apollos came from Alexandria to teach about Jesus. Although he was learned and eloquent, he did not have a full understanding of the Gospel, and so the couple took him in and ‘explained the way of God more adequately’ (Acts 18:27-28).

Now, interestingly, when Luke recorded these things in the book of Acts, he mentioned Priscilla’s name before that of her husband. This was a break with convention but we would probably not read too much into it if Paul had not also given Priscilla pre-eminence in his greetings in both his letter to the believers in Rome and in his letter to Timothy.

The one time Paul mentioned Aqilla first was when he wrote to the Roman Christians that ‘the churches here in western Asia send greetings. Aquila, Priscilla, and the church that meets in their house say hello (1 Corinthians 16:19).

What we can infer from this all is that Aquila played a strong role in both teaching Apollos and leading a house church together with her husband.

I am more than a little irritated by those who attempt to keep capable women out of key ministry roles in the church. The overall testimony of scripture does not support this.

So, to all the women reading this post, thank you for your valuable contributions to homes, churches, and the Kingdom of God. All children of God are special to Him, all have a role to play, and all are of equal worth to the church and society.

Save

Save

Save

Save

print

2 Responses

  1. Grant Thiselton

    Dear Chris, Thanks for this article.

    I understand the point you are making with this article, in particular the statement which reads ” … those who attempt to keep capable women out of key ministry roles in the church”.

    There is one issue for me that I would like you to clarify for me which is in the area of teaching and preaching. A while back I read an academic article on the role of women in the local church. The author of the article was quite adamant that the functions of elder and teacher are to be reserved for men. The article used a number of passages in Paul’s writings to substantiate this stance.

    While I have no problem with church elders being male only, I do have a problem with the teaching/preaching function. My question is, should a woman be allowed, even encouraged, to teach and preach in the local church?

    Thanks
    Grant

    • Christopher Peppler

      Hi Grant – thank you for your comments. To respond adequately to your question I would need to write a full essay, so let me just make some brief observations. (1) The supposed prohibitions to women preaching and teaching are from 1 COR 11 and 14 and 1 TIM 2. All three passages deal with godly order in a church gathering (service) and are most likely specific to women violating the principle of submission to headship (Husband in family and elder in church family). (2) In the Corinthian passages it is obvious that women did indeed both pray and prophecy publically so the prohibitions are not on them doing this but rather them doing this in a way that dishonours headship and thus church order (3) In expository preaching and teaching the authority lies in two areas (a) the Bible itself, and (b) the interpretation of the BIble set by the Teaching Elder. Therefore anyone gifted by the Holy Spirit, man or woman, may preach or teach provided that his or her contribution is according to the Bible and the interpretive framework established by the Teaching Elder (4) If a woman may prophesy, which is speaking out what God wants His people to hear, then she can obviously preach, which is simply another form of prophecy.

Leave a Reply