Yesterday I introduced this 31 day series, and today I’m going to be specifically identifying what a leading lady is and what examples we see in the Bible.
How were believing women in the New Testament described? What roles did they have? How did they serve the church?
Let’s look at some passages first. I HIGHLY encourage you to grab your Bible and turn to these passages yourself. Answer the questions yourself first, then read what I have written.
**Note: The structure for this post and list of passages came from a study Nate Morsches led at church. (Thanks for doing the hard work, Nate!)
- Acts 16:11-15 – What do we see with Lydia? What was the result of Lydia believing?
- Lydia listened to Paul preach and believed. She and her household were baptized and then she urged Paul and his men to stay at her house while they were in town.
- Then later (verse 40), after Paul and Silas were released from prison they went back to Lydia house to encourage the brethren. So, “the brethren” had been in Lydia’s house (maybe the church was meeting there?).
- Acts 17:10-12 – What do we see with these women?
- The women at Berea who were in the synagogue were called prominent Greek women. They received the word with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily.
- Colossians 4:15 – What was Nympha doing?
- Nympha hosted a church in her home.
- Romans 16:1-2 – What do we see Pheobe doing in this passage? What was her role?
- Phoebe is called a deaconess (or servant) in this passage. She is someone who had personally helped many, including Paul. Paul asks that the church receive her in a manner worthy of the saints and help her however she has need.
- Acts 18:24-26 – What did Priscilla and Aquila do in this passage?
- Earlier in this chapter you can see that when Priscilla and Aquila crossed paths with Paul, they decided to travel with Paul for a little bit. And here we see them pulling aside Apollos and correcting what he had been teaching. They “explained to him the way of God more accurately.”
- It’s not a big deal to us in 21st century America, but in this text, Priscilla’s name is listed first. It is a big deal to 1st century Greco-Romans. What might this suggest to you?
- 1 Timothy 5:9-10 – What was “the list?” What were the requirements for being on “the list?”
- This is a list of widows the church was to help provide for. A widow is to be put on the list if she is over 60, having been the wife of one man, having a reputation for good works, if she brought up children, has shown hospitality to strangers, has washed the saints’ feet, has assisted those in distress, and has devoted herself to every good work.
- Wow – that’s a tall order. What do you think a widow who was on “the list” actually did after they were put on the list?
Women were very influential and did much for the church. We’ve seen that women:
- hosted house churches
- led their households to Christ
- were leaders in some capacity
- served as leaders on Paul’s team in some way
- formed ministry teams with their husbands
- served as significant deacon-like roles
- did hospitality inside and outside the church
- met pressing needs
- served their husbands and raised their children
However, women did NOT have the same role as men.
Just to clarify, what do we know are restrictions for women?
- Wives are to submit to husbands (Ephesians 5:22-33)
- Women cannot be elders (1 Timothy 3:1-7)
- They win disobedient husbands over without words (1 Peter 3:1-6)
- Young widows were encouraged to remarry (1 Timothy 5:11-15)
- Women are instructed not to teach and not to exercise authority over a man. And have a quiet, non-challenging spirit (1 Timothy 2:11-15)
So, how do we reconcile what we see modeled in the New Testament and what we see as restrictions in the epistles? What are we as women supposed to do today?