Conclusions About Women Workers in the New Testament
Women as well as men were leaders in those first-century churches. That practice was a radical departure from pagan philosophical notions accepted at that time. So the wider culture began pushing back against women leaders in the churches. Centuries earlier, Aristotle had taught that a woman was a “failed male” with a “flawed anatomy.” She should not lead. One by one, the later Church Fathers imbibed Aristotle’s idea and began closing the door to leadership for women. By the third century, women were effectively locked out of any kind of Christian leadership.
But that did not stamp out the first-century vision of men and women working side-by-side in ministry. We have their record in the New Testament, in the stories of Mary, Mary Magdalene, Lydia, Damaris, Phoebe, Pricilla, and Junia. From these stories we can reconstruct a history of women working both in the church and in the marketplace for God’s purposes. Thanks be to God.