This week the world observed International Women’s Day, a day that celebrates the contributions of women in society. As someone who teaches the Bible primarily to women, I am keenly interested in what the Bible has to say about women.
The Bible often gets a bad rap for being “anti-women.” But an examination of what the Bible actually says—and how women are actually depicted—paints a very different picture.
The very first book of Scripture, Genesis, tells us that God created both man and woman in His image. From the very beginning, women were given equal status with men. How women ended up ever being regarded as second-class citizens when created in the image of the Creator is beyond me.
Some of the most heroic and intriguing people in the Bible are women. For example…
Deborah served as a judge in a difficult time period. Israel had been living under the tyranny of an enemy king for 20 years.
Deborah, a woman of great wisdom, was the 4th judge in list of 12 judges raised up at a time when Israel needed to battle and gain its freedom. Judges were basically the governors of the land and would rule in all judicial, legislative, and military matters. The land was in distress and turmoil and people hid in fear.
Deborah was a bold leader who was not intimidated by the Canaanites. The ancient cultures were patriarchal. Women were regarded as little more than property. But God raised up Deborah and she strategically defeated Israel’s enemy.
Esther was another woman in ancient times who broke the mold for women of their day. She boldly challenged the king’s most-senior adviser and approached the king, her husband, putting herself at risk for execution.
Thanks to her courage, Esther was able to save her people from extermination.
One of the most often discussed and misunderstood women in the Bible is Mary Magdalene. She went from suffering from demonic possession to being a committed supporter of Jesus’ ministry.
Mary Magdalene was at the cross when Jesus was executed and was among the first to go to tomb and see the resurrected Christ.
Each of these examples depicts women who were counter-cultural, willing to challenge their societies’ prejudice against women and courageously lead and impact their culture.
Jesus Himself supported women, worked alongside women and considered them his friends. He never demeaned women, but instead empowered them to fulfill their destinies.
New Testament teachings about women have to be considered radical and progressive for their day.
In his letter to the Galatians, the apostle Paul says that all with faith in Jesus are equal when he said that there “is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female” for all who follow Christ.
In several of the Epistles, women are singled out for their contributions to the early church.
Priscilla and her husband Aquila were tent makers in Rome who held services for the early church in their home at the risk of their own lives.
Lydia hosted the apostle Paul in her home and led her entire household to faith in Christ.
Phoebe was another woman singled out by Paul for her service to the early Church. Finally, Lois and Eunice, Timothy’s mother and grandmother, passed their own faith to this young man who eventually became Paul’s protégé.
The Bible respects women and depicts them as capable, powerful and valued by God. It is time to reconsider what the Bible has to say about them.
Joanne Ellison is the founder of "Drawing Near to God."