Me with some of my favorite women!
Me with some of my favorite women at Women of Faith in Columbus, Ohio!

What kinds of contributions are okay for a woman to make in the Christian community? Can they be preachers? Can a woman work outside her home? Can she be a missionary? Can she… Can she…. Can she… These are questions that I as a woman want to know an answer for. So instead of listening to a televangelist, a pink wife book, or a well-meaning stay at home mom that wants me to also stay at home, or a mom that works outside the home, though their advice is appreciated and even helpful, I think I’ll go with what the Bible says. Here are a few examples…

Phoebe

Romans 16:1-2

I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also.

“servant of the church in Cenchrea” – in greek diakonon (office of deacon)

  1. 1:1

Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ,… [slaves of Christ Jesus]

-Phoebe was a slave to Jesus, a bondservant…

  1. 1 Tim 3:8

Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money…

-Phoebe would have fit this description if he used this word “diakonon”

  1. 1 Tim 3:12

Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.

-The word “deacon” is used to refer to a male here but in Romans 16, we can see that Paul may have counted Phoebe as a deacon with his use of work “diakonon” (deacon).

Deborah

Judges 4

Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time. And she would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.

“God doesn’t explain Himself. Suddenly, in a time when Israel has become unfaithful to the Lord, the scripture proclaims the position of Deborah, the only female to rule Israel during the years of the judges – the era between Joshua’s death and Saul’s accession as king. Deborah was not just a minor judge; she was an authoritative woman who decided disputes between men and held the power common to all Israel’s judges… As a prophetess, Deborah would have heard and communicated God’s will to His people. Though she is not the only prophetess in the Bible, she alone ruled Israel. Not only that, she effectively led her country during wartime, when many people might have chosen a man for the job.” (The Top 100 Women of the Bible. Pamela McQuade. P. 36-37. 2007)

-As you read this chapter, also see the incredible contribution to the nation of Israel by the tent making wife Jael, who used her tent-setting skills to drive a stake through the enemy’s temple. No king, or prince can say he had the victory in this chapter, it was God’s faithful daughters who answered His call and captured back their nation’s freedom. God shows us that even women are put to work in mighty ways for His glory.

What Stops Women from Participating in Ministry?

1 Timothy 2:8-15

I desire therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. Let a woman 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. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.

-“Silence” -a woman will be in silence? Is that really what he is saying? That word in the Greek is “hesychia” and it means to be settled down, undisturbed, not unruly, restful..” It is not the word “sigao”, which means to actually be literally silent, saying nothing out loud. We are misinterpreting the scripture, missing the point if we think we are to be silent in church, silent in the Christian body!

Priscilla

Romans 16:3

Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.

-Priscilla is not mentioned without her husband, however as is noted among commentators her name appears first – she was possibly the greater contribution to the work of the church.

100+ women are listed in the Bible, some good some evil, some great warriors, great leaders, great business women, mothers, wives, grandmothers, heroes of faith – all are listed to show us the intricacy of a woman, the uniqueness of God’s creation. He has a purpose for each woman, each vessel. Are we willing to be used in whatever way He chooses to accomplish His mission?

Remember these words as you consider your role in family, your contribution to the Christian body, and to your community:

Joel 2:28-29

I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female slaves; in those days, I will pour out My Spirit.

Commentators point out this passage being about all nations, an important observation. However don’t miss the part about it including both genders, male and female. This was written in a time when the female was often disregarded and here she is portrayed as equally important to the future work of God. Do some homework today, get out your commentaries and start looking at the women in your Bible. Pink wife books are terrific, but what does God’s book have to say about who you are as a woman?