Women in the New Testament Letters, part 3

In order to get an 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 the third and final part of a survey of all the additional women in the New Testament letters. Some passages highlighted tell about particular women while others include teaching about women.

  • Euodia and Syntyche in Philippians 4:2-9  Euodia and Syntyche are described by Paul as women who “contended at my side in the cause of Christ” and “fellow workers.”  These women also may be the key to understanding the situation addressed by Paul in the letter to the Philippians. Their inability to get along has apparently caused deep problems in their congregation. The entire letter seems to be written with them in mind.
  • Nympha in Colossians 4:15  Nympha is addressed as one who hosts a church in her house. So in this verse Paul recognizes Nympha as both having a house and hosting a church. Both are significant in the first century and significant for our understanding of women in the New Testament churches.
  • Paul’s motherly ministry in 1 Thessalonians 2:6b-9 Paul describes his ministry in Thessalonica as being like a mother: caring, loving, sharing, and working night and day. Paul shows both an awareness of and appreciation for the ministry of mothers.
  • Wives and female servants  in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 (see also Titus 1) In this discussion of church leadership expectations for Ephesus, Paul places a high value on the roles women play.  Wives are very important team-mates in the ministry of elders and deacons.  Paul also writes of women who minister as special servants or “deaconesses.”
  • Older women and widows in 1 Timothy 5:1-16 Paul instructs Timothy to make sure the church in Ephesus values and respects older women and widows. Women are called to be responsible members of the community of faith: washing the feet of the saints, managing their homes, doing all kinds of good deeds, and even financially supporting needy family members. Older women and widows are expected to be workers rather than idle gossips.
  • Lois and Eunice in 2 Timothy 1:5 Paul recognizes Timothy’s mother and grandmother as living out their sincere faith. Their ministry nurtured Timothy and prepared him for his ministry.
  • Healthy teaching for Christian women in Titus 2 The content of healthy teaching (sound doctrine) is outlined for older and younger women in the church at Crete. A healthy church has healthy women.
  • Apphia in Philemon Apphia, considered by Paul to be a dear sister, is thought to be the wife of Philemon and the mother of Archippus. She and her family host the church in their home.






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