Before beginning this post, please let me reiterate the purpose of “The Word In Context”. It is to help the student of the Bible and the truth seeker to arrive at a critical understanding. The Bible is the infallible inerrant Word of God. ALL THE BIBLE. (Yes, I was shouting that.) Scripture must be understood as the truth, and scripture must always be studied through its full content. It is never correct to pick and choose the parts we like and discard other parts. Scripture does not void scripture in the Bible. (ref. Matthew 5:17-19) The Bible must be studied as one whole document. The goal of the student is to always “accurately handle” scripture to better understand scripture. (ref. 2 Timothy 2:15)
In our Christian walk we will encounter many ancillary questions. These are not questions of salvation, but questions that relate to the living of our Christian lives. Two precautions are important regarding these types of questions: First – We must seek to find the answers to these questions in studying the scriptures, and if an answer is not found through exhaustive study of the Bible, then the questions are not critical to our Christian walk. (ref. Isaiah 40:8) Second – We must be ever vigilant to avoid letting any person or organization press us into believing these ancillary questions are essential to our salvation.
As to the question of women in ministry, following is one part of this study, which is covered extensively in the Bible. In looking at this area of study the student should note that we are concentrating on the events of Jesus first appearing to His followers after His resurrection. We are also focusing on Words attributed directly to Jesus.
It is exclaimed by some that women witnessing the Resurrection of Christ along with men does not qualify them minister to and lead men with authority. To this point, I whole heartedly agree. The reason I agree is that women did not witness the Resurrection of Christ. In fact, no living human on Earth witnessed the Resurrection. Yes, people witnessed the resurrected Savior, but people did not witness the Resurrection. That privilege was restricted to The Father and the angels. A careful of study Matthew chapter 28, Mark chapter 16, Luke chapter 24 and John chapter 20 reveal this as fact. These four passages of scripture deal with The Resurrected Savior in detail. Yet, not one of them include any human eye witness of the Resurrection. This surely would not simply be a small overlooked detail. Therefore, it is not included, because it did not happen.
What then do the four passages listed above teach about people (men or women) being called to minister and lead with authority?
These scriptures tell of the first day of the week following the death of Jesus. Which by the way, on the calendar we commonly use, is Sunday. The chronological order of events can be a little hard to follow. This is because the four authors of the Gospels write from very different points of view, and were not necessarily concerned with recording the events in order. A careful study reveals things went as follows:
Sometime during the predawn hours there was an earthquake, when an angel came and rolled away the stone from in front of the grave where the body of Jesus had been placed. The angel then sat on the stone. The Roman guards who were there got so frightened that they passed out. (ref. Matthew 28:2-4) None of the authors tells us that when the followers of Jesus came later they saw the guards, so they must have awakened and run from the cemetery before the sun came up. (ref. Matthew 28:11)
At dawn, some of the women who had been followers of Jesus set out to do what women did back then when there was a death in the family. They had spices and they were going to prepare the body of Jesus for proper burial. (ref. Mark 16:1 and Luke 24:1) The women who came are mentioned as Mary Magdalene, Salome (also called Joanna) and Mary the mother of James. (ref. Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1 and John 20:1) Please note that this activity did not demonstrate a calling to ministry. As mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph, this is what women did in those days.
When the women arrived at the tomb they encountered the angel sitting on the stone, who invited them to see the empty tomb. (ref. Matthew 28:5-6) They either went inside, or at least far enough into the tomb to see where the body had been laying. Inside the tomb they saw two angels. The angels told the women there was no need to look for Jesus among the dead, for He had risen. (ref. Mark 16:5-6 and Luke 24:5)
As the angels were talking, the women remembered the words Jesus had spoken about His resurrection, and then they understood what the angels were saying about Jesus no longer being dead! (ref. Luke 24:6-8) The angels also told the women to go and tell the disciples and Peter that Jesus had risen. In fear and trembling, they set out to do as they were told. (ref. Matthew 28:7-8, Mark 16:7-8 and Luke 24:9)
It is important to note that what has happened to the women thus far has prepared them for ministry, but they are not yet anointed or called. To see this we must study on.
As the women were on their way to tell the disciples and Peter what they had seen and learned, they encountered someone. Even though He spoke to them, when they first saw Him they did not know it was Jesus. They thought He was a gardener. When Jesus greet them by saying the name “Mary”, they recognized Him and fell at His feet. (ref Matthew 28:9 and John 20:15-16)
Jesus told the women to “go to My brethren”. He is clearly not referring to other women or children. He is referring to the disciples and Peter. He also told the women to tell them, “I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God”. He also instructed the women to tell them “leave for Galilee, and there they shall see me”. (ref. Matthew 28:10 and John 20:17) Now. This is where the women are anointed, called and given authority by The Savior Jesus Christ Himself to bring the Gospel to men and lead them with authority.
The women understood who the “brethren” were and immediately did as Jesus directed them. They went and shared the Gospel and instruction with the disciples and Peter. (ref. Matthew 28:8, Mark 16:10, Luke 24::9 and John 20:18)
Unfortunately, men did as men do even to this day. They did not believe what the women shared with them. Instead, Peter and John ran to the tomb to see for themselves. When they went in the tomb, they found the cloths the body of Jesus had been wrapped in, and they found the cloth that had been laid on His face. They did not find the body. Now they believed Jesus was no longer dead and went home marveling at what they had seen. (ref Mark 16:11, Luke 24:11-12 and John 20:3-9)
It is very interesting to note that Peter and John saw neither Jesus nor the angels at the tomb. They were not called by Jesus at this time. Instead, the women were called by Jesus to carry the Gospel to the disciples and Peter, and to instruct the men as to their next steps.
To those who might disagree that these women were called by Jesus, I would politely point you to two other passages where Jesus commissioned people: Matthew 28:18-20 which is well known as “The Great Commission” and Acts 9:4-18 where Saul is called by Jesus. Accurate handling of scripture necessitates treating the events regarding the commissioning of the women with the same seriousness and weight as the other two events. Possibly even more, as these women were the first people to be recorded as meeting and being called to service by the resurrected Savior.