Within the pages of Scripture, a tapestry of inspiring narratives unfolds, revealing the significant roles women have played in the ministry. In this exploration, we delve into the lives of those anointed by God, called forth to carry out His divine purposes. Women in ministry aren’t something of the modern age only, we can find inspiring stories in the Bible!
The Bible, a treasure trove of wisdom, showcases remarkable women who fearlessly stepped into their appointed positions, leaving an indelible mark on history. From the first woman preacher in the bible to courageous leaders like Deborah and Esther, and devoted disciples like Mary Magdalene and Phoebe, their stories resonate across time, inspiring generations of faithful believers.
The female ministers in the Bible aren’t merely a historical account—it’s a celebration of the unwavering strength, resilience, and grace displayed by women in ministry. It’s a reminder that we, modern-day Christian women, have been called and equipped by God to play an integral part in His divine plan. Whether you find yourself in a leadership role, serving faithfully behind the scenes, or nurturing others through your compassion and love, your presence in the Kingdom is significant.
As we journey together through the stories and teachings of these remarkable female church leaders in the Bible, may your heart be uplifted, your faith fortified, and your sense of purpose rejuvenated. Prepare to be inspired, challenged, and empowered as we celebrate the anointed and appointed women in ministry in the Bible.
What does the Bible say about women in ministry?
Much debate abounds today regarding the topic of women in ministry. What ministry positions can women hold? Are there any they should not hold? What does the bible say about female ministers? What women in Scripture were involved in ministry, and what can we learn from them? That is what we are going to dive into!
What is the role of women in ministry?
In all the current debate surrounding what women can and cannot do in ministry, something that we often forget is that the Great Commission is not a gendered command. Whether you are a man or a woman, the Great Commission applies to us all! And no matter your gender, everyone has a role to play in the grand scheme of God’s ministry. What kind of person does God use?–God uses anyone!
Meaning, the call Jesus extended for us is not a call extended only to men.
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.”Matthew 28:19-20 (NKJV)
The call to fulfill and live out the Great Commission is a call with no qualifiers. Both men and women are tasked with living out this command and are tasked with this being their highest life calling. What this means, then, is that we as women are called to be involved with ministry endeavors, too.
Beyond this, Paul also clarifies that women will pray and prophesy in the church as men also were. We read in 1 Corinthians 11:4-5:
“Every man who prays or prophesies with something on his head dishonors his head. Every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since that is the same as having her head shaved.”
Paul also points to Phoebe in Romans 16 as a woman in ministry, using the Greek word for deacon, Diakonos, when speaking about how she served the church.
Throughout Scripture, from beginning to end, we are presented with the fact that God does indeed call women to ministry endeavors. This is brought to light clearly in Scripture through the examples of quite a few women who were involved in ministry endeavors. They are the strong women in the Bible!
Which women in the Bible had ministry?
Throughout the pages of the Bible, many women were active participants in various forms of ministry. From prophetic voices and influential leaders to devoted disciples and nurturing mentors, these women played vital roles in advancing God’s kingdom. Their stories serve as inspiring examples of faith, courage, and dedication. They are an example of Biblical womanhood.
Whether through acts of leadership, teaching, guidance, or service, these women demonstrated the transformative power of ministry and left a lasting impact on their communities and the world at large. We can rightly call them the female warriors of the Bible.
Here is a brief survey of several of those very women in ministry in the Bible:
Deborah – We read of Deborah throughout Judges 4 and 5. She is known for coming to the aid of Israel militarily and as a judge, but she was also a well-known prophetess. Judges 4:4-5 tells us,
“Deborah, a prophetess and the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. She would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to settle disputes.”
Huldah – Huldah was another well-known prophetess, with her story being chronicled in both 2 Kings 22 as well as 2 Chronicles 34. When King Josiah and the men of his royal court discovered the long-lost book of the law (which scholars believe was the book of Deuteronomy), they went to Huldah for her to interpret for them what the book meant.
The Proverbs 31 woman – We read of many characteristics of the Proverbs 31 woman, but several specifically point to her being a woman in ministry. Consider, for example:
“Her hands reach out to the poor, and she extends her hands to the needy.” (vs. 20)
“Her mouth speaks wisdom, and loving instruction is on her tongue.” (vs. 26)
Priscilla – Priscilla and her husband, Aquila, were known for doing ministry together alongside Paul, most notably when they sat down with the traveling apologist Apollos. Acts 18:26 says,
“He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. After Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the way of God to him more accurately.”
The women of Luke 8 – An often little-known fact is that Jesus’ ministry was largely supported financially to be women. Mary Magdalene was one of them!
Luke tells us in Luke 8:1-3,
“Afterward, he was traveling from one town and village to another, preaching and telling the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him,and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary, called Magdalene (seven demons had come out of her); Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward; Susanna; and many others who were supporting them from their possessions.”
Lydia – Acts 16 introduces us to Lydia, a woman who was known for hosting a church in her home.
Phoebe – Paul praises Phoebe in Romans 16:1-2,
“I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church in Cenchreae. So you should welcome her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints and assist her in whatever matter she may require your help. For indeed, she has been a benefactor of many—and of me also.”
Many of these anointed women were prayer warriors as well, as seen in powerful Bible verses about prayer warriors.
Who was the first woman preacher in the bible?
Though there is debate over whether or not women should hold the official office of pastor in the church, one thing that is not debatable is whether or not women preached in Scripture. The role of the pastor is an official church office, whereas to be a preacher simply means that you are proclaiming truth from God’s Word.
So, who was the first woman preacher in the bible? The first female preacher in the Bible is probably Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron. She is described as a prophetess (Exodus 15:20) and was given the task of leading the women of Israel in a song of praise after the crossing of the Red Sea (Exodus 15:21). This is one of the earliest examples of a woman in ministry in the Bible.
The first woman preacher in the Bible, KJV, seems to be Deborah. In the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible, the first woman preacher is not explicitly mentioned. The Bible shows many accounts of women who played significant roles in spreading the message of God, such as Deborah, Huldah, and the prophetesses mentioned in the New Testament. However, the term “preacher” specifically denoting a woman delivering sermons or publicly proclaiming the word of God is not explicitly referenced.
Different interpretations and translations of the Bible can give different perspectives on this topic. It’s important to keep this in mind.
Female preachers in the New Testament part of the Bible
With that in mind, when it comes to women in ministry in the New Testament, we see in Scripture three women who were the first women to preach, one before Jesus’ death and two after.
The woman at the well – We read in John 4 about Jesus’ interaction with the woman at the well, a woman who had been married multiple times. Jesus shares with her about Who He is, what He has to offer her as Living Water, and more. Then in verse 39, we read, “Now many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of what the woman said when she testified, “‘He told me everything I ever did.’”
The Two Marys – “After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to view the tomb. The angel told the women, ‘Don’t be afraid, because I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here. For he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has risen from the dead and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see him there.’ Listen, I have told you.’ So, departing quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, they ran to tell his disciples the news.” (Matthew 28:1,5-8)
Prayer to be used in women’s ministry
Lord, we thank You that women are not left out of the call to ministry. Thank You for the many beautiful ways You called women to minister in Scripture, ways You are still calling Your daughters to serve today.
We pray for Your blessings over our ministries, whether they are online or in person, in our homes or in our churches. We pray You would lead and guide us each step of the way to know how You want us to serve to the glory of Your name. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Guest Author: Rebekah Hargraves
Rebekah Hargraves is a wife, homeschooling mama of two, blogger, podcaster, speaker, and author. Her passion is to edify, equip, and encourage women in their journey of Biblical womanhood, particularly with an emphasis on the gospel and its implications for everyday life.
Rebekah’s books: “Lies Moms Believe (And How the Gospel Refutes Them)” (2017), and the “Lies Moms Believe” Companion Bible Study” (2018).