Category Archives: Equality in Ministry

Women, Men and Ministry

Women, Men and Ministry                      by Peter Corney
The following takes a ‘meta theological’ or overall Biblical narrative approach in trying to answer the question – ‘What are the big Biblical ideas that help us to find our way in these issues?’

  1. Creation: We are all made in the image of God and therefore equal – Gen 1:27. Both the man and the woman are given the role to rule over creation – Gen 1:28. In marriage they are described as “one flesh”, a unity of equality – Gen2:24-25. It should also be noted that the Hebrew word translated as “helper” to describe the woman in Gen 2:18 means one that corresponds to the man or the other side of the coin and is most commonly used of God inthe OT. But the fall disturbs all this and introduces inequality and oppression –“he will rule over you” – Gen 2:16. The fall introduces into our natures the propensity to “the will to power” 1, usually over others and frequently men over women. There are of course many other ramifications of this disturbance in the created order like fear and shame – Gen 3:8-10. The whole plan of salvation is to rectify this disturbance and restore Gods original intentions, which of course includes the relationship between men and women.
  2. Redemption: The goal is to reconcile, restore and renew what has been disturbed and fractured. This plan is worked out in history through Israel and the Old Covenant and then finally through the Church in the new Covenant and so unfolds progressively. In the OT the sign of membership of the people of God, who are called out to be the instrument of Gods plan of redemption is circumcision, born by the male members only as the full plan of redemption is not yet fully realised. But when we come to the fulfilment of the plan, with Jesus’ death, resurrection, the coming of the Holy Spirit and the establishment of the Church, it becomes baptism. This sign is now given to all, men, women, children, slaves, Jews and Gentiles-Gal 3:26-28, Coloss 3:9-11, Ephes 2:11-22, Philemon 15-17. So we begin to see the redemptive process of reconciliation, renewal and restoration beginning to work itself out in the relationships of gender, race and status (e.g. slave and free). Baptism incorporates us all into Christ where we are united as one. The NT in fact encourages us to see ourselves now not only as equals but in a radical new relationship of servant  love (literally slaves) of one another just as Christ served us – Phil 2:5-11, Ephes 5:21, Mark 10:42-45.
  3.  New creation: So the new people of God, the Church, are to be signs, examples and foretastes of the new creation, the Kingdom that God through Christ is bringing in now and which will be finally consummated when Christ returns and the whole creation is healed and renewed – Rom 8:18-27, Rev 5:9-10, 22:2  (‘the healing of the nations’.)
  4. Ministry: In the new people of God all are equal and servants of one another,  therefore ministry and role are by gift (Charism) of the Holy Spirit – I Cor 12:1-31, Rom 12:3-8. Roles and ministry are no longer to be determined by gender, inherited position (OT Priesthood), the world’s cultural constructs of hierarchy and imposed authority, but by the Spirit.2 The proper ordering of the gifts of ministry is a function of the new covenant community operating in its new understanding of itself as a community of redeemed equals in which the disturbed relations between people and particularly men and women and the judgements of the fall are now in the process of redemption. So all tendencies to the fallen “will to power” over one another must be eschewed and excluded from whatever method of ordering the gifts a particular community or group of communities decides.3 The other factors to be considered when appointing people for ministry and leadership roles in the new redeemed community include matters of character, spiritual maturity, sanctification and trustworthiness and those of the kind listed in – 1Tim 3:1-12, Titus 1: 5-9. There is no essential or ontological hierarchy in the Church apart from Christ who is the head of the body.

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Lydia and the “Place of Prayer” at Philippi

Lydia and the 'Place of Prayer' at Philippi

And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate [of Philippi] to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer (proseuchē); and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled. Acts 16:13 (Underline added.)

The Prayer-House at Philippi

One thing that baffles me as I read commentaries on Acts 16:13 is that some people are still unsure what this ‘place of prayer’ (proseuchē) refers to.[1] In my own reading of both primary and secondary texts I have come across the word proseuchē more than a few times, where it is typically used as a synonym for “synagogue”. In particular, it refers to a building where Jews gathered.

In sources from the Second Temple period proseuchē is the most common word used to describe a synagogue building whereas the word synagōgē may indicate a congregation, an assembly, as well as a building or a place of assembly. It is not clear why authors prefer one word to the other, or use the two words alternately . . .”[2]

Luke uses the word proseuchē in Acts 16:13, and again in Acts 16:16, for the Jewish prayer-house in Philippi. Elsewhere in Acts, Luke uses the Greek word synagōgē (e.g. Acts 17:1).

Proseuchē occurs in Greek literature[3] and in Greek inscriptions[4] where it refers to a building belonging to, or being used by, the Jews of the Diaspora (i.e. Jews who live outside of the land of Israel).[5] Considering the word’s use, I have little doubt that when Paul and his colleagues arrived in Philippi, they went to the river looking for a Jewish meeting place. According to the book of Acts, Paul typically began his missionary work in each new city by going to the local synagogue, and many synagogues (including the prayer-house in Philippi) were built near sources of water, such as rivers, to facilitate ritual washings and baptisms.[6]

The Women at Philippi

The first connection that Paul made in Philippi was with a group of women “who had assembled” (tais synelthousais) in their prayer-house. Synelthousais is a feminine participle of the verb synerchomai, a word which is frequently used in the New Testament with “the idea of a deliberate, purposeful gathering that also implies community.” [7] (This is often true of its use in the book of Acts, but especially true of its use in 1 Corinthians.)

The fact that no men are mentioned in Acts 16:13 is puzzling, but we cannot conclude from this one verse that the Jewish community at Philippi had no adult male members. What we do see in verses 13 and 14, however, is that Paul seems to have had no problem with bringing his message to a group of women, and that “the Lord opened the heart” of one of these women, Lydia, to accept Paul’s message (Acts 16:14).

Lydia, originally from Thyatira, but now settled in Philippi, was probably a Gentile convert to Judaism.[8] She was a wealthy business woman—she dealt in expensive purple fabric—and so Lydia may have been a patron of the Jewish community. Being a patron was an influential role in Roman society and its institutions. Other Jewish women in Philippi may also have played influential roles. From ancient inscriptions we know that some women had leadership titles in synagogues during the Roman period. Many titles may have been honorary, but at least some may have denoted genuine leadership functions.[9] Perhaps the Sabbath meetings at Philippi were run and attended mainly by women.[10]

The Jewish women of Philippi weren’t meeting out in the open on a river bank. They had their own building, a proseuchē. It is in this building that they first heard the gospel message from another Jew, the apostle Paul. In Philippi Paul made his first European convert, Lydia. And when she and her whole household were baptised, it was in Lydia’s home that the first Christian church in Europe held its meetings (Acts 16:15, 40).


[1] Proseuchē literally means “prayer” in Greek, but this word is also used to refer to a Jewish “prayer-house” or synagogue building. Only occasionally does it refer to an outdoor meeting.

[2] Pieter W. van der Horst, Japheth in the Tents of Shem: Studies on Jewish Hellenism in Antiquity (Peeters: Leuven, 2002) 59.

[3] For example: 3 Macc. 7:20; various works by Philo of Alexandria including Against Flaccus 7.48; Josephus, Vita 54 (277, 280) see endnote 7; etc.
Jutta Leonhardt states that for Philo of Alexandria “the equivalent of the modern term synagogue was theproseuchē.” Jutta Leonhardt, Jewish Worship in Philo of Alexandria (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2001) 81, see also 74-95. Louis Feldman concurs: “Indeed, proseuche is the standard term for a place of prayer in Philo (who uses it eighteen times in contrast to synagoge) which refers to the gathered community.” Louis H. Feldman, “Diaspora Synagogues: New Light from Inscriptions and Papyri”, Studies in Hellenistic Judaism (Leiden: Brill, 1996) 580.

[4] “Greek inscriptions found in Egypt, dating from the third century BCE to the second century CE are the earliest inscriptions mentioning synagogue buildings. All use the term proseuchē to mean a synagogue.” Rachel Hachlili, Ancient Jewish Art and Archaeology in the Diaspora (Leiden: Brill, 1998) 88. (Underline added.)

[5] Shaye Cohen states that the proseuchē, or ‘prayer house’, “is a product of the Hellenized Diaspora.” Shaye J.D. Cohen, From the Maccabees to the Mishnah (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1989) 112, see also 111-115.
While the word is typically used for synagogues outside of Israel, Josephus also refers to a synagogue at Tiberias as a proseuchē  Vita 54 (277, 280). See Lee I. Levine, The Ancient Synagogue: The First Thousand Years (Yale University Press, 2005) 52-54, for commentary on Josephus’ description of this synagogue.

[6] Some “places of prayer” were built by the sea. Josephus records a decree issued by the sea-side city of Halicarnassus which includes this bit: “we have decreed, that as many men and women of the Jews as are willing so to do, may celebrate their Sabbaths, and perform their holy offices, according to Jewish laws; and may make their places of prayer at the sea-side, according to the customs (ethos) of their forefathers . . .” Antiquities of the Jews 14.258 or 14.10.23. (Underline added.) (It is interesting that this decree explicitly mentions women as well as men.)
Note that there is a textual variant of Philippians 16:13. The Textus Receptus has para potamon ou enomizeto proseuchē einai which might be translated as “by a river where there was, according to custom, a place of prayer.”

[7] Ivoni Richter Reimer, Women in the Acts of the Apostles: A Feminist Liberation Perspective, Linda M. Maloney, trans. (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1995) 74. (I’m indebted to Robin Cohn for pointing out this use of synerchomai on her blog post Women and the Ancient Synagogue of Philippi here.)

[8] Luke uses the word sebomai (or sebō) eight times in Acts, including Acts 16:14 where it describes Lydia. The verb sebomai literally means “worship”, but it usually occurs in Acts in the context of Gentiles worshipping the God of Israel. The participle form of sebomai is typically translated into English as the idiom “God fearer” (Acts 13:43, 50; 16:14; 17:4, 17; 18:7).

[9] For example, a second century CE inscription from Smyrna mentions a woman named Rufina who was synagogue ruler. It is unclear whether “synagogue ruler” was an actual, or honorary, title in her case; but either way, it indicates she was a woman of influence. The inscription reads: “Rufina, a Jewess synagogue ruler [archesynagōgos], built this tomb for her freed slaves and the slaves raised in her household. No one else has a right to bury anyone here.” (CII 741; IGR IV. 1452)
See Bernadette J. Brooten, Women Leaders in the Ancient Synagogue: Inscriptional Evidence and Background. Brown Judaic Studies, 36. (Atlanta and Chico, Calif.: Scholars, 1982).

[10] The rule that a synagogue needed to have a quorum of at least 10 adult male members, known as aminyan, may not have been universally observed in the mid first century CE.

Image credit: This stream, called Ganga or Gangites, is a short distance north of the ruins of agora in Philippi. However, this stream may not have existed in Paul’s day, or not existed in the same location. The landscape has changed dramatically in more recent times with the draining of marshland around Philippi. (Image source: Ferrel Jenkin’s Travel Blog)

© April 14, 2015, Margaret Mowczko

This article was first published on here.

Women Church Leaders in the New Testament

lightstock #79916

By Marg Mowczko

For most of the Church’s history, in most Christian denominations and movements, women have been denied the privilege of serving as leaders. Just one or two New Testament verses, which do not seem to allow women to have a ministry which involves public speaking (1 Cor. 14:34) or which involves teaching a man (1 Tim. 2:12), are frequently cited as the reasons women cannot be leaders.[1] There are however, several women mentioned in the New Testament who did function as church leaders. Even though these women are mentioned briefly, they do serve as valid biblical precedents which call into question the widespread and persistent belief that the Bible teaches that church leaders can only be men.

In Ephesians 4:11, Paul lists several kinds of ministers which Jesus Christ has given to the church:

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up . . .  Ephesians 4:11-12 (NIV 2011) (cf. 1 Cor. 12:28-31).[2]

In this article I use Paul’s list as a reference point, and show that there was at least one woman in the New Testament who fulfilled each of these ministerial leadership roles.

Women as Apostles

Paul begins his list in Ephesians 4:11 with apostles. Apostles were people sent initially by Jesus (Mark 6:7; Gal. 1:1), and later by the church (Acts 13:1-3), to pioneer a new work which facilitated the spread of the gospel. In the New Testament, several people, apart from the Twelve, are mentioned as being apostles.[3] One of these is a woman—Junia.

Junia and Andronicus (who may have been husband and wife) were members of the church in Rome; they may even have been the founders of the church there. Paul sends greetings to them in Romans 16:7 and speaks warmly of them, mentioning that he is relatives of them (or fellow Jews), and that they had become Christians before he did. Andronicus and Junia had suffered persecution because of their faith and at some point had been fellow prisoners with Paul. Paul also states that Andronicus and Junia were “outstanding among the apostles”. This is a wonderful commendation coming from someone who was himself an outstanding apostle.[4]

Unfortunately, Junia’s impact as a precedent for female church leadership has been slight because many people have failed to realise that she was a woman. This problem has been exacerbated by the fact that, in the 13th century, a New Testament copyist masculinised her name to (the equivalent of) Junias.[5] This alteration to scripture was then adopted by many English translations, until recently. However, in all the Greek manuscripts before the 13th century, Junia’s name is feminine and several early church theologians, such as Chrysostom, Origen, and Jerome, referred to her as being both female and an apostle.[6] Junia was one of the first female apostles, but many more apostolic women, throughout the church’s history, have pioneered new works which have facilitated the spread of the gospel. [More about Junia here.]

Women as Prophets

Second on Paul’s list of ministers are prophets. With the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the function of prophecy became more widespread than previously. On the day of Pentecost, Peter quoted from the prophet Joel and said:

And it will be in the last days,” says God, “that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy; your youth will see visions and your seniors will dream dreams. Even on both my male servants [ministers] and on my female servants [ministers], in those days, I will pour out my Spirit and they will prophesy. Acts 2:17-18.

Prophets were people who spoke for God. Their speech was inspired by the Holy Spirit and it may or may not have included foretelling. In the early church, prophets provided guidance (Acts 13:3-4; 16:6), instruction (1 Cor. 14:31), strengthening, encouragement, and comfort (1 Cor. 14:3). Paul considered the ability to prophecy as being the most desirable of the spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 14:1); and he regarded the ministry of prophets as important and influential. Paul lists prophesying and prophets before teaching and teachers in the lists of ministry gifts in Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:28-30, and Ephesians 4:11.

In Acts 21:9 we are told that Philip had four unmarried daughters who prophesied. Some argue that Philip’s daughters are not explicitly called “prophets” or “prophetesses” in the Greek text of Acts 21:9 (cf. Agabus who is clearly called a “prophet” in the next verse, Acts 21:10). However, this does not mean that the women were not recognised as prophets. The participle of “prophesy” is used to describe the women in Greek text of Acts 21:9. The participle is often used in the New Testament to give a more immediate sense of an action. “Prophesying” is what characterised the ongoing ministry of these women. Thus they were prophets.

Philip’s four daughters are barely mentioned in the New Testament, but they are mentioned several times in other early church writings. The fourth century church historian Eusebius described these women as “mighty luminaries” and ranked them “among the first stage in the apostolic succession.”[7] Moreover, he regarded the ministry of Philip’s daughters as the benchmark for prophetic ministry in the early church. Quoting Miltiades, Eusebius compared them with other notable male and female prophets: Agabus (Acts 11:27-28; 21:10), Judas and Silas (Acts 15:22, 27, 32), the prophetess Ammia of the church in Philadelphia, and Quadratus of Athens.[8] By all accounts, Philip’s daughters were highly respected female prophets and leaders in the early church, as was Ammia. [More about Philip’s daughters here.]

Women as Evangelists

Third on the Ephesians 4:11 list are the evangelists. Evangelists were men and women who preached the gospel of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.[9] Euodia and Syntyche of Philippi were coworkers of Paul.[10] Paul wrote that these women had “contended at my side for the cause of the gospel” (Phil. 4:2-3). This is similar to what Paul says about Timothy in the same letter: that he had served with him “in the gospel” (Phil. 2:22). Like Timothy, Euodia and Syntyche were involved in gospel work. This may well have involved ministering as evangelists [More about Euodia and Syntyche here.]

Another female minister esteemed by Paul was Phoebe. In Romans 16:1-2 Paul described Phoebe as both a diakonos and a prostatis. Kevin Giles writes:

The meaning of the last term has been much debated. In either its masculine or feminine form it means literally ‘one who stands before.’ This meaning is never lost whether it be translated leader, president, protector or patron . . . Its verbal form is proistanai (cf. Thess. 5:12; 1 Tim 5:17), a term used of male church leaders elsewhere in the New Testament.[11]

The term diakonos is always used by Paul to refer to a minister with a sacred commission; however in this one instance, where it is referring to a woman, the King James Version and some other English translations have unjustly translated diakonos as “servant.”[12] Phoebe was a minister or deacon, and a leader or patron, in the church at Cenchreae. Sadly, this fact is rarely acknowledged in most older English translations of Romans 16:1-2.

Many deacons in the apostolic and post-apostolic church made journeys during which they acted as agents and envoys of their church. We know that Phoebe traveled to Rome as Paul’s envoy, but a later writer asserts that she traveled to other places too.[13] Theodoret of Cyrrhus (393-460 AD) wrote: “[Paul] opened the world to her and in every land and sea she is celebrated. For not only do the Romans and Greeks know her, but even all the barbarians. . .”[14] It seems that Phoebe traveled widely and proclaimed the gospel in foreign lands where she effectively ministered as an evangelist. [More about Phoebe here.]

Women as Pastors and Teachers

Fourth on the list of ministers in Ephesians 4:11 are the pastor-teachers. The terms “pastors” and “teachers”, joined grammatically in the Greek of this verse, may reflect two aspects of the one role. Or the terms may be two different words for the same ministry. (There is little evidence of ministers being referred to as “pastors” in the very early church, but there is ample evidence of ministers being called “teachers”.) [More about the Greek grammar of Ephesians 4:11 is in a comment here.]

While the exact function of a pastor is not specified in the New Testament it certainly involved spiritual leadership. There are several women in the New Testament who functioned as pastor-teachers. Priscilla, another close friend and coworker of Paul, was one of them. Together with her husband Aquila, she taught the already learned and eloquent Apollos, who was himself a teacher, “the way of God” (i.e. theology) more accurately (Acts 18:24-26).

In the more reliable, earlier Greek manuscripts, Priscilla’s name appears first in four of the six mentions of this couple in the New Testament.[15] This may denote that Priscilla’s ministry was more prominent than her husband’s. It may also indicate that she had a higher social status than Aquila.[16] “It is well known that the early church attracted an unusual number of high status women . . .”[17] Some of these women, who lived in relatively spacious homes, hosted a congregation that met in their home.[18] As a prominent member of the congregation, the host would have functioned as a leader employing a ministry gift, possibly the pastor-teacher gift. Priscilla and Aquila were active in ministry and hosted a church in their home at Ephesus (1 Cor. 16:19) and later at Rome (Rom 16:3-5) where they ministered as pastor-teachers. [More about Priscilla here.]

Kevin Giles writes:

Prisca [Priscilla] is not the only woman associated with house church leadership. A surprising number of women are mentioned in this role. . . . In Acts we see Mark’s mother providing a home for the Christians to assemble (Acts 12:12) and at Philippi we hear of believers meeting in the home of Lydia (Acts 16:14-15, 40). Writing to the Colossians, Paul greets “Nympha and the church in her house” (Col. 4:15). Perhaps Chloe is also the host of a home-church (1 Cor. 1:11), as may have been some of the other women Paul greets in the last chapter of Romans.[19]

The “chosen lady”, whom John addresses in his second letter, was a woman functioning as a house-church leader and pastor. In the Greek of 2 John, it is clear that at times John is addressing a single person (the lady), and that at other times he is referring to plural persons (her followers or her congregation). John refers to his followers, and hers, similarly, as “children” (2 John 1:1, 4, 13 cf. 3 John 1:4). Furthermore, the word “lady” (kuria) used in 2 John 1 & 5, is the female equivalent of “lord” (kurios). This lady was a woman with an elevated social position. Numerous ancient papyrus letters, as well as ancient Greek literature, show that kuria was a respectful way to address a woman.[20] The “chosen lady” was a person, a house-church leader and pastor. The “chosen lady” was not a church (i.e. congregation) as some have suggested. [More about the “chosen lady” here.]


Stanley Grenz notes that the gospel “radically altered the position of women, elevating them to a partnership with men unparalleled in first-century society.”[21] This is seen in the New Testament. The following list is of first-century women ministers and church leaders mentioned in the New Testament: Philip’s daughters (Acts 21:9), Priscilla (Acts 18:26; Rom. 16:3-5, etc.), Phoebe (Rom. 16:1-2), Junia (Rom. 16:7), possibly Chloe (1 Cor. 1:11), Euodia and Syntyche (Phil. 4:2-3), Nympha (Col. 4:15), Apphia (Phlm. 2), “the chosen lady” (2 John 1), “the chosen sister” (2 John 13), and probably Lydia (Acts 16:40), etc.

The church as a whole has been very slow to embrace the New Testament ideal of equality and mutuality among people regardless of race and gender (Gal. 3:28). This is shown by the fact that the slave trade and slavery was only outlawed in the “Christian” nations of Great Britain and the United States of America in 1833 and 1865 respectively,[22] and by the fact that racial discrimination has only been declared both immoral and illegal in recent history. I am convinced that discrimination against church leaders on the basis of gender will also become a thing of the past, and that future generations will look at our present difficulties and debate on this subject with incredulity.

It would be wonderful if the Church as a whole would recognise that, according to the New Testament, women did function as leaders—as apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers—and that they were respected and valued in these roles by such people as the apostle Paul. In short, it is biblical for a woman to be a church leader. Moreover, if we deny gifted women the opportunity to exercise their leadership ministries, we reject some of the very people Jesus has appointed and given to his church. The church’s mission can only be enhanced and made more effective when gifted men and women minister together using their complementary skills and abilities. Men and women should be united in the cause of the gospel and in building up the body of Christ, as well as in equipping the people of God to reach the lost (Eph. 4:11-12).


[1] 1 Corinthians 14:34 and 1 Timothy 2:12 are discussed in articles here and here.

[2] In the Greek, there is no hint that Ephesians 4:11, or any other verse which speaks of spiritual gifts, including those of leadership and teaching, applies more to men than to women. On the contrary, every New Testament verse which speaks of spiritual gifts, manifestations, or ministries is completely free of any gender bias in the Greek. (Verses which mention spiritual ministry gift: Acts 2:17-18; Rom. 12:6-8; 1 Cor. 12:7-11 & 27-28; 1 Cor. 14:26-33; Eph. 4:11-12; Heb. 2:4; 1 Pet. 4:9-11.)

[3] These apostles include Paul, Barnabas (Acts 14:14), Apollos (1 Cor. 1:12), Epaphroditus (Phil. 2:25), Andronicus and Junia (Rom. 16:7). Jesus is also called an apostle in Hebrews 3:1.

[4] In his Homilies on the Book of Romans, fourth century church father Chrysostom preached favourably about Junia, and using Paul’s words, he acknowledged her as an outstanding female apostle.

[5] The masculinised name “Junias” does not appear in any early Greek manuscript whatsoever, religious or otherwise. The feminine name “Junia” however is used about 250 times in various other early Greek manuscripts. James D.G. Dunn  writes:

Lampe [in his Patristic Greek Lexicon] 139-40, 147 indicates over 250 examples of “Junia,” none of Junias, as was taken for granted by the patristic commentators, and indeed up to the Middle Ages. The assumption that it must be male is a striking indictment of male presumption regarding the character and structure of earliest Christianity. . . We may firmly conclude, however, that one of the foundation apostles of Christianity was a woman and wife.
James D.G. Dunn, Romans 9-16 (Word Biblical Commentary, Vol 38B) (Dallas: Word, 1988) 894.

[6] “The earliest commentator on Romans 16:7 Origen of Alexandria (c.185-254/55) took the name Junia to be feminine, as did Jerome (340/50-419/20), Hatto of Vercelli (924-961), Theophylact (c.1050-c.1108), and Peter Abelard (1079-1142). In fact no commentator on the text until Aegidus of Rome (1245-1316) took the name to be masculine.”
Bernadette Brooten, “Junia . . . Outstanding among the Apostles (Romans 16:7)”, Women Priests: A Catholic Commentary on the Catholic Declaration, Arlene and Leonard Swidler (eds) (Paulist Press, 1979) 141-144, 141.

[7] Eusebius, History of the Church. 3.37.1

[8] Eusebius, History of the Church. 5.17.3

[9] Based on how the word is used in the New Testament, C.H. Dodd explains that the content of preaching (kerugma) in the New Testament was primarily concerned with the lordship and resurrection of Christ. Furthermore, Dodd defines preaching (kerugma) as “. . . the public proclamation of Christianity to the non-Christian world”. The Apostolic Preaching and Its Developments (Harper and Row, 1964) 261. The proclamation of Mary Magdalene, “I have seen the Lord”, may be regarded as an example of New Testament preaching (John 20:17-18).

[10] “Coworker” is Paul’s favourite ministry title. E.E. Ellis writes: “The designations most often given to Paul’s fellow workers are in descending order of frequency as follows: coworker (synergos), brother (adelphos) [or sister (adelphē) as in the cases of Phoebe and Apphia], minister (diakonos) and apostle (apostolos).”
E.E. Ellis, “Paul and his Coworkers”, Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, Gerald Hawthorne and Ralph Martin (eds) (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993) 183.

[11] Kevin Giles, Patterns of Ministry Among the First Christians (Sydney: Collins Dove Publishers, 1992) 35.

[12] “All important modern translations of the Bible now restore the original language used by Paul . . . but somehow the illusions fostered by the King James falsifications remain common wisdom. Nevertheless, there is virtual consensus among historians of the early church as well as Biblical scholars that women held positions of honour and authority within early Christianity. . . .”
Rodney Stark, The Rise of Christianity (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1997) 109.

[13] M. Mowczko “Deacons as Envoys in the Apostolic Fathers”, Phoebe: A Deacon of the Church in Cenchrea (25.11.14) <>

[14] Theodoret’s commentary on Romans 16:1-2:

Cenchreae is a large village of Corinth.  It is worth admiring the strength of the preaching.  In a short time not only the cities, but also the villages were filled with such piety.  Such was the significance of the church at Cenchreae that it had a female deacon [i.e. minister], honorable and well known.  Such was the wealth of her accomplishments that she was praised by the apostolic tongue… I think what [Paul] calls patronage (prostasia) is hospitality (philoxenia) and protection (kēdemonia).  Praise is heaped upon her. It seems that she received him in her house for a little time, for it is clear that he stayed in Corinth. He opened the world to her and in every land and sea she is celebrated.  For not only do the Romans and Greeks know her, but even all the barbarians.
Quoted by Kevin Madison and Carolyn Osiek, Ordained Women in the Early Church (Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 2005) 16.

[15] Priscilla’s name appears first in Acts 18:18, 26; Romans 16:3 and 2 Timothy 4:19.

[16] Luke, the author of Acts, was very careful in which order he placed names. This is seen in the shared ministry of Paul and Barnabas; whoever of the two was the most prominent in ministry, or the most recognised in any given situation, his name appears first.

[17] Stark, Rise of Christianity, 107.

[18] M. Mowczko, The First Century Church and the Ministry of Women (08.10.14) <>

[19] Giles, Patterns of Ministry, 34-35

[20] M. Mowczko, Kuria “Lady” in Papyrus Letters (23.08.13) <>

[21] Stanley J. Grenz and Denise Muir Kjesbo, Women in the Church: A Biblical Theology of Women in Ministry (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVaristy Press, 1995) 78.

[22] Advocates of slavery often used scripture to support their position. Slavery was abolished throughout most of the British Empire when the Slavery Abolition Act came into force in 1833. The United States abolished slavery in 1865 with the 13th Amendment to their Constitution.

© 22nd of August 2015, Margaret Mowczko  

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