Who’s Who New Testament Female Ministry Role Models -- By: Grace Ying May

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 07:3 (Summer 1993)
Article: Who’s Who New Testament Female Ministry Role Models
Author: Grace Ying May


Who’s Who
New Testament Female Ministry Role Models

Grace Ying May

This concludes Grace May’s two-part examination of biblical models of women in leadership (part one was printed in Priscilla Papers. Spring 1993). A graduate of Yale University and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Grace is pursuing a Th.D. at Boston University’s School of Theology.

Jesus and the New Testament authors everywhere assume that women are made in the divine image. By affirming the inherent worth of women, Jesus and the early church departed from the cultural norms of their day. This attitude engendered a sense of confidence and freedom in women that encouraged them to participate fully in Christian worship and ministry. Just as earlier God called Eve to inhabit and rule the Garden with Adam, now, through Christ, God gives women and men an opportunity to respond to the two highest callings imaginable as co-heirs of salvation (1 Pet 3:7) and co-laborers with Christ. Who are some of the women in the New Testament on whom the Lord particularly confers this honor?

1. Women Prophets At Jesus’ Birth (Luke 1-2)

Overwhelmed with joy (Lk 1:39-56), Mary offered up her tribute to the Lord. In the Magnificat, she praised the Lord for the great honor of being chosen to bear the Son of God (Lk 1:38-39). Similarly, Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit prophesied that Mary would be most blessed among women (Lk 1:42). As soon as the prophetess Anna saw the baby Jesus, she “gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem” (Lk 2:38). In the opening chapters of Luke, God has already mentioned three women by name who fulfill a prophetic role in announcing the Messiah’s birth.

Thus at the very beginning of Jesus’ life, we already have signs of the way God is restoring the fallen world, by employing women to proclaim the truth. How appropriate for women to herald Jesus’ birth, for the long-awaited prophecy of Genesis 3:15 was to find fulfillment through “the seed of a woman.” God’s promise would take on the form of/be born as a human infant, grow up and “strike the head of the serpent” (Gn 3:15). So intent was God at making the point that before God women and men are equal, that God reversed the created order both in every act of reproduction and in the story of redemption. Whereas the first woman Eve came from Adam, every subsequent man comes through woman (1 Cor 11:12),...

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