The role of women in the Bible, even in today's more 'enlightened' world, is a subject rarely discussed in sermons or pursued as a distinct study. This ignorance means that when they ARE discussed in church or studied by a fellowship it is usually in a negative light. Sometimes the biases against females manifest itself in making them responsible for the actions of others! One such case in point is the affair King David had with a beautiful but married lady named Bathsheba.
Blame the women
Bathsheba, as the story is many times explained, was the reason King David sinned when he committed adultery with her and then had her husband killed. After all, was not she taking a bath in full view of David as if trying to entire him? This is however not the truth. For starters, Bathsheba was bathing AT NIGHT. Indications in Scripture also are that she was bathing, like most women, IN HER HOME. King David saw her from his ROOF, a vantage point few others had. He likely saw her through an open window and indulged in a little voyeurism. It is interesting to note that although God directly confronted and corrected David regarding this illicit affair (2Samuel 12), He does not mention Bathsheba's part in it.
Powerful Positive Examples
Biblical women who were poets include Miriam (Exodus 15:21), Deborah (Judges 5), Hannah (1Samuel 2:1-10), Elizabeth (Luke 1:42-45) and Mary (Luke 1:46-55). Those considered prophets include Miriam (Exodus 15:20-21), Deborah (Judges 4:4-5), Huldah (2Kings 22:14-20), Noadiah (Nehemiah 6:14), Anna (Luke 2:36-38) and Philip's four unmarried daughters (Acts 21:9).
Females who governed include Deborah (Judges 4:4), the Queen of Sheba (1Kings 10:1-13) and Queen Candace (Acts 8:27). Deborah is unique in that, as one of Israel Judges, she led an army against the Canaanites.
Other good women include the mother of Samson (Judges 13:23), Naomi (Ruth 1), Ruth (Ruth 1:4), Hannah, the mother of Samuel (1Samuel 1:9-18, 24-28), the Widow of Zarephath who fed Elijah during the famine (1Kings 17:8-24), the Shunammite woman who gave hospitality to Elisha (2Kings 4:8-38) and Esther. In the New Testament, females of godly character include Mary, the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:26-38), Elizabeth (Luke 1:6, 41-45), Mary and Martha (Mark 14:3-9; Luke 10:42) and Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:1; Luke 8:2; etc.). Others are Dorcas (Tabitha - Acts 9:36), Lydia (Acts 16:14), Priscilla (Acts 18:26), Phoebe (Romans 16:1-2), Julia (Romans 16:1) and Eunice and Lois, who were the mother and grandmother of Timothy who Paul commended (2Timothy 1:5).
New Testament Female Ministers?
1. Now I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant (Greek: diakonos) of the church in Cenchrea, 2. Charging you to receive her in the Lord . . . and to assist her in whatever she may need from you . . . (Romans 16:1 - 2, HBFV)
The apostle Paul calls Phoebe a diakonos (Strong's Concordance #1249). This word is translated in the New Testament as "servant" (Matthew 23:11, Mark 9:35, John 2:5), "minister" (Matthew 20:26, 2Corinthians 6:4, Ephesians 3:7), and "deacon" (Philippians 1:1, 1Timothy 3:8, 12). Phoebe was a New Testament minister!
Was she a church pastor? She probably was not. She was a ministrant or servant, one who was actually SERVING the needs of others. This is the TRUE meaning of the New Testament concept of a minister. Those today who take on the title of 'minister' yet boss people around, rule over their faith, and want to be served themselves are NOT acting like true ministers of Jesus Christ!
Does this mean that there are women in the Bible who are ministers? Yes, it does. Not pastors, not elders, not bosses, but true servants of God!
A final note
How important are women in the Bible to God? Think about the following. Without a doubt, Jesus' resurrection from the dead is one of the greatest events in history. Who was the FIRST human God choose to reveal the newly resurrected Christ? Was it any of the apostles like Peter or John? Was it either Joseph of Arimathea or maybe even Nicodemus, who together buried Jesus’ body in the tomb? No! Mary Magdalene was the first person given the privilege of seeing Jesus alive after his death on the cross (Matthew 28:8-10)!