Let’s open with an interesting point from WhereWhatHuh on our Youtube podcast page, who brings up something I had not heard before, relative to Acts 19 where 50,000 drachmas worth of sorcery books were burned.
A side point on the books valued at 50,000 silver pieces: We tend to think of the value of books as the cost of the books, or the value for which they could be sold. In the ancient world, books could be rented out for duplication. To own a library of popular books could bring a steady income. Thus, when these books were burned, not only does it mean that the owners of the books stopped practicing witchcraft themselves, but also that they gave up publishing these books and renting them out to others. Their repentance was complete and sincere, and their sacrifice not only improved themselves, but the entire community.
And now, to our main topic – which will be shorter than the subject deserves, due to this being a ten minute podcast, and Acts 21 being a chapter of above average length. Does the Bible forbid women from being in ministry? The very quick and easy answer is quite obvious: no, it does not. There are passages in 1 Timothy and 1 Corinthians that indicate that women should not have direct authority over men – in the church – but the Bible not only does not forbid women to be in ministry, the Bible gives us many, many examples of women holding very key ministry positions and strong spiritual gifts in the early church – which was incredibly progressive in this area for its time. The reason I bring this issue up is that today’s chapter of Acts mentions four female prophets who prophesied, all daughters of Philip the evangelist. What about the Old Testament – surely there weren’t female prophets (or prophetesses) in the Old Testament, were there? And the surprising answer is – there were several. How many prophetesses are listed in the Old Testament (is a good trivia question to stump most Bible nerds), and the answer is: at least FIVE specifically mentioned Prophetesses in the Old Testament: Huldah, Deborah, Miriam, Noadiah and Isaiah’s wife. There’s at least one named prophetess in the New Testament too – Anna. If you can find a person who can list all FIVE named prophetesses in the Bible off of the top of their head, you should buy them a fancy Starbucks frappuccino with extra whipped cream and sprinkles. The Jewish rabbis also considered Sarah, Abigail and Hannah as prophetesses, though the Bible never names them as such.
Combine these prophetic ladies with other early church ministers like Phoebe, likely a deaconess, and Priscilla (who taught Apollos, along with her husband Aquila), Mary (a hard working minister, mentioned by Paul in Romans 16), Junia (noteworthy among the apostles), Tryphaena and Tryphosa (hard workers in ministry, mentioned by Paul in Romans 16), Apphia, whom the letter of Philemon is addresses to (along with Philemon), Nymphas, who hosted a church group in her home, Chloe, Julia, The ‘Chosen Lady,’ of which 2 John is addressed to, Euodia and Syntyche, coworkers of Paul in ministry, and Lydia, who hosted believers in her home. So – can women be in ministry – absolutely! Let’s read our passage and then close with Wayne Grudem on Philip’s prophesying daughters:
When Paul and his companions came to Caesarea near the very end of Paul’s third missionary journey, Luke wrote, “And we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. And he had four unmarried daughters, who prophesied” (Acts 21:8-9, RSV). This must certainly be a record of women who prophesied in the assembly of a group of Christians, for the fact that Luke reports it strongly suggests that Paul and those with him were present while these women were prophesying. The verb used (a present participle) also suggests that the prophesying was a regular or continuing occurrence with these daughters: More literally, the text says, “To this man [Philip] were four virgin daughters prophesying.” So here is one example of women (or girls-there is no indication of their age) who seem to have used the gift of prophecy freely in the church. Source: Wayne Grudem: The Gift of Prophecy
End of the Show: Bible memory verse for FEBRUARY: Acts 9:31 So the church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.
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