Posted by: Bob Clark | June 14, 2011

Women of the NT Letters, part 2

In order to get a good overview of the roles women played in the faith community of the New Testament era, we have looked at women in the ministry of Jesus and women in Acts. This is part two of a survey of women in the New Testament letters. Some passages highlighted tell about particular women while others include teaching about women.

Chloe in 1 Corinthians 1:10-12
While we do not know the exact role of Chloe in the church at Corinth, we do know that she was aware of and concerned about the divisions in the church. Paul obviously trusted her input to the point he wrote a letter to the church to address her concerns.

Wives in 1 Corinthians 7:1-16
As Paul addresses marital problems in the church at Corinth he uses parallel instructions for men and women. For example: The wife’s body belongs to her and her husband. The husband’s body belongs to him and his wife. This revolutionary language (for the world at the time) shows Paul’s view of the equality of husbands and wives. This view of equality agrees with that presented in Genesis 1-2, by Jesus, by Paul in Ephesians, and by Peter.

Women preaching and praying in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16
Paul addresses problems in the worship assembly by writing of the interdependence of men and women and the wearing of veils by women. Often overlooked (as we struggle to understand the strange – to us –  world of veils in the first century) is that women are pictured both preaching and praying in the assembly.

Where are the women in 1 Corinthians 15:5-9?
I find it curious that Paul does not mention women when listing the witnesses to the post-resurrection Jesus. The gospels present women as the first witnesses (Matthew 28:9-10; John 20:11-18). Had Paul not heard the stories about the women? Did Paul omit them because of the Mediterranean culture wherein the testimony of women was not respected or trusted? Did Paul emphasize the appearances to men so as to make the story more convincing?

Male and female in Galatians 3:26-29
In trying to bring together Christians in the churches of Galatia, Paul teaches there is neither “Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female” in Christ; rather all are “one in Christ Jesus.” All who belong to Christ (regardless of ethnic, social, or gender status) are heirs according to the promise.

Hagar and Sarah in Galatians 4:21-31
As Paul teaches in response to his concern that the Christians in Galatia are being led away from grace and back to the law, he uses an illustration from the Old Testament. In this illustration, Paul uses the two women – Hagar and Sarah – as representatives of the two covenants.

To be continued….

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