Kevin Wayne Johnson
Do women have a role in the church today? From a biblical perspective, that is a very silly question. The Scriptures – God’s Word – undeniably and unquestionably verify that women do have a place as well as an active role in the church. Their roles are impactful, insightful, and worth further examination. On a personal note, my covering was provided out of love by a woman pastor whom I respect and honor while we lived in New Jersey from 1997 to 2003. Women are represented in the church today, being used as a willing vessel by God, to fulfill the position of pastor (leader and shepherd), elder (overseer), deaconess (servant), evangelist (one who proclaims the gospel through the Holy Spirit), and prophetess. It is recorded throughout The Holy Bible about the importance of the role of women, especially as it relates to salvation and redemption. Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, teaches us valuable lessons about why and how He related to women during His three and one-half year earthly ministry. To that end, a look at the lives and historical impact of five women is worthy of mention. In the original Greek language, ‘the church’ is derived from the word ekklesia (ek – “out of”, and klēsis – “a calling”). It was used among the Greeks of a body of citizens “gathered” or “assembled” to discuss the affairs of state. Its meaning is to congregate, thus, the gatherers at any given public worship service are commonly referred to as the “congregation.” It, too, is derived from the Greek word ekklēsia. The church is you and I. We comprise the church and we are taught in Hebrews 10:25, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Why? To encourage one another, love one another, and hear what God has to say to us through His Word (rhema).To understand the impact and significance of how God relates to people, let’s observe two important passages of Scripture that will settle our hearts and minds. First, God is no respecter of persons, that is, He does not distinguish between male and female when He is searching for a willing vessel to get His will done in the earth. Instead, He requires a clean vessel – one that does not willingly and consistently commit sin against Him – with an open heart toward Him. God is interested in our clean hands and pure hearts, not our gender. “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons”(Acts 10:34). Second, God’s Word establishes its accuracy, inerrarancy, and everlasting truth by repeating itself through the writings of many different authors. His Word says, “It is written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true” (John 8:17). Let’s examine the lives of five women mentioned in The Holy Bible and how they were used by God to fulfill His plan to redeem and salvage (save) man after the sin of Adam in the Garden of Eden. These women are Mary (Jesus’ mother), the Samaritan woman, Rahab,, Mary Magdalene, and Phoebe. (1) Mary (Jesus’ mother) – Jesus, the Son of God, is God’s plan to redeem mankind back to Him. Jesus had to born of man (Son of man), that is Mary, in order to fulfill this plan. Mary was entrusted by God to carry Jesus for nine months in the womb, as conceived by the Holy Spirit. She was espoused (not yet married) to Joseph at the time of conception. Mary and Joseph cooperated with this plan of God so that the Old Testament scripture would be fulfilled. “BEHOLD, A VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD, AND SHALL BRING FORTH A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME EMMANUEL, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (Matthew 2:23) Mary was a young Jewish girl engaged to the carpenter Joseph when God revealed to her that she was to be the mother of the Messiah. Joseph, advised of these events in a dream and knowing Mary was miraculously pregnant, took her as his wife. Toward the end of her pregnancy, the couple from Nazareth traveled to Bethlehem for a taxation census, and Jesus was born there. Mary was present at Jesus’ cruxificion and became one of His followers after His resurrection. She was instructed to call his name Jesus and she did. Mary exemplifies the spiritual principle of OBEDIENCE. Through obedience, Mary is a demonstration of how one person can be used by God to change mankind forever. Because of Jesus, we are saved! (2) The Samaritan woman – In the book of John, chapter 4, Jesus reveals Himself to an unnamed woman that He ministered to in Samaria even before He revealed Himself unto His handpicked disciples (John 4:26). Samaritans were a race of persons formed when Jews married non-Jews. Jews intensely hated Samaritans and often refused to set foot in Samaritan territory. Jesus demonstrated that God loves Samaritans, just as God loves Jews. On Jesus’ journey through Samaria, He stopped at Jacob’s well and asked “a woman of Samaria,” “Give me a drink” (John 4:7). His disciples had gone away to buy food during this exchange. This woman’s curiosity peaked as she wondered why a Jew would engage in conversation with her. It is commonly known that the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans (verse 9). Jesus began to teach a valuable lesson at the well to this woman – The water in the well will quench one’s current thirst, but they will thirst again. However, the free gift of God is LIVING WATER and is symbolic of everlasting life (verse 14). When this woman answered Jesus’ question honestly concerning her promiscuity, He knew the time was right to revealed Himself to her. This Samaritan woman exemplifies HUMILITY and TRUSTWORTHINESS. God trusted her and revealed Himself to her before He revealed Himself to His own hand-picked disciples (all men). (3) Rahab, the harlot – The name means “violence”; “pride, arrogance”, yet Rahab’s name is specifically mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:5). The great, great grandmother of King David, Rahab is included amongst the faithful in Hebrews, chapter 11. She was a prostitute from Jericho who hid two Hebrew spies and provided escape for them (Joshua 2:1). Later she and her family were spared when the city was destroyed. Rahab was the mother of Boaz. Rahab’s hope and faith in her knowledge of God’s plan for escape prompted her to act on what she believed (Joshua 2:10-17). Rahab exemplifies FAITHFULNESS. (4) Mary Magdalene – She was healed by Jesus and became one of His closest followers. She was present at Jesus’ cruxificion and a witness of His resurrection. As a resident of the city of Magdala, she was one of the women who came to the tomb to anoint Jesus and discovered that He had risen. Mary of Magdalene’s name is specifically mentioned in the scriptures – the first of two – amongst the women who ministered to Christ. “And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, and certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils.”(Luke 8:1-2) This Mary was further instructed by Jesus, at His appearance to her after the resurrection, to “go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me” (Matthew 28:10). Mary Magdalene exemplifies COMPASSION and CARING. Her compassion moved to action was a comfort to Jesus and acknowledged by Him when he asked her to deliver a message to the brothers of Galilee. He knew that she could be trusted. (5) Phoebe, a deaconess – In chapter 16 in the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul is praising and thanking multiple women (and men to a lesser degree) for their diligent work in the church at Rome. In verses one and two in particular, Paul recognizes and acknowledges the work of a deaconess named Phoebe as follows, “I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea. That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also. ” She is mentioned first amongst all that are mentioned in the entire 16th chapter. Notice also that her role in the church is specifically mentioned as if to distinguish her, and her diligent works, from the others. Phoebe exemplifies LOYALTY and DILIGENT SERVICE. Phoebe’s excellent work in the ministry was worthy of mention to one of the greatest men in biblical times. Not all women who did similar work were mentioned by name. What is the role of the woman in the church today? It is the same for all who have confessed Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour, and are children of the most High God: Ø Love God,Ø Hate sin,Ø Give of self (as a servant),Ø Live holy,Ø Represent God in the earth (through a Godly lifestyle),Ø Draw others to Christ,Ø Lift up the name of Jesus through every word, thought and deed,Ø Obey the scriptures, andØ Excellence in ministry. *This article was also published in the debut publication of Precious Times magazine, Los Angeles, CA, 2002.