Summary: The Bible is counter-cultural in its attitude toward women

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1 Corinthians 11:2-16 26/06/94

Women in the Kingdom

Women in Jewish and Greek Culture

Ancient Middle East culture had an extremely low view of women - women were seen as property, either of their father or husband - not testify in court, not inherit property, not claim any right to education - "better to burn the Torah than to teach it to a woman."

Greeks had three reasons for gratitude - that they were not made a beast, a woman or a barbarian.

Jews thanked God daily that they were not made a slave, a woman or a Gentile.

Jewish women were so heavily veiled that a man could not even recognize his own mother. They sat in the gallery of the synagogue, above and away from the men.

Women had two choices - to be a good woman, and hope that the man that she was sold to as a wife would be kind, or to throw off her veils and become a prostitute. They had the choice of oppression by one man or by many.

Ron Ward, asked by muslim men "Why do you spend so much time talking to that woman?" "She’s my wife!" "Yes, so what?" - same attitude in Bible times

Women in the Bible

Completely different view!

So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Gen. 1:27)

While in the main, men were in leadership, there are also some famous women leaders:

Miriam - prophet, led Israel at her inception as a nation with Moses and her brother Aaron. (Ex 15:20, Mic 6:4)

Deborah - prophet - led Israel as a judge (Jud. 4-5)

Huldah - Prophet

Ester - Queen saved Israel from holocaust.

New Testament is were you find a real radical shift from the culture in treatment of women.

Jesus’ treatment of women, while no big deal to us, was extremely radical for the time - when women were ignored except for when men had a need for them, Jesus ministered to them - healed Peter’s mother-in-law, delivered the daughter of the syrophoenician woman from a demon, raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead, heals the woman with the haemorrhage, raised the widow’s son at Nairn, taught Mary and Martha in their home.

Jesus had women disciples in a time when other Rabbis taught that it was better to burn the Law than to teach it to a woman: He had women followers who learned from him, traveled with him at times, and supported him financially.

Samaritan woman "Why do you, a Jewish man, speak to me, a Samaritan woman?"

Women - normally ignored by the culture, figure prominently in Jesus last hours - they are the only followers who do not abandon him at the cross in Mark - first to witness the resurrection, and to proclaim it to the other disciples. - in a day when a woman’s witness was not even accepted in the court - God chose who the world thought was foolish and weak and shamed those who the world thought was wise and strong.

In Acts, The women joined with the twelve in prayer and supplication, they helped to elect Mathias, they too received the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.

"Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy." (Acts 2:18 NIV)

Mark’s mother Mary’s house was the headquarters of the early church,

Paul’s first convert in Europe was a woman - Lydia,she is obviously a leader in the church at Philippi in later times

Priscilla taught Apollos with her husband, Aquila.

Paul has been labeled as anti-women by many people, but if you look at what he really says, and the culture he says it in, he is radically pro-women. In a day when if a man found his wife committing adultery, he could legally kill her, but she did not have the same privilege for him - in a day when the men had all the rights, and the women had all the responsibility, he had all the privileges, and she the obligations: Paul spends more time telling the husbands what their responsibilities to their wives are rather than the other way around. In fact he says that the marriage relationship should be one of mutual submission, not one of the wife in complete subjection to her husband.

Paul names many women in his greetings at the end of letters, and it is fairly obvious that they are in some form of leadership, in Philippians 4, he speaks of Euodia and Syntyche who "have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel"

Most Bible scholars believe that Paul’s writings are summed up in the verse Gal. 3:28 just as the Gospel is summed up in John 3:16

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