Kurt Willems, founding pastor of Pangea in Seattle, has a podcast exploring the theology of the Apostle Paul, author of 8-13 books in the New Testament (definitely 8, some others are ascribed to him but there are theories of other possible authors) and pillar of of our faith. He has begun a series on Paul and women, from the position that Paul was an egalitarian, believing “that women have all of the possible skill, gifts, and mandate from God to serve the church in any leadership capacity” and that “women are also called to lead from their strengths in their marriages, family, and anywhere else in society.”
You can listen to episode 1: Intro and Junia here.
Here are some of my favorite bits from the episode:
- We have perpetually limited/excluded the influence of our daughters in our church cultures
- Could it be that you have been conditioned by a culture that says women operate this way and men operate that way, that perhaps what you feel about gender roles is more culturally conditioned than it is from Scripture
- In the ancient world, women were almost universally considered inferior to men – temptresses, weaker, limited to the household, worthy mostly of submission to men
- Rabbinic Tosefta: man prays in gratitude that he was not born a woman (t. Ber. 7.18)
- The apocryphal book of Sirach or Ecclesiasticus (from about 180 BCE) states: a man’s wickedness is better than a woman who does good
- Following the lead of Jesus, who elevated the role of women in his ministry, Paul seems to also elevate women
- Galatians 3:28 – all are one in Christ Jesus
- Sarah Bessey quote from Jesus Feminist: “In a time when women were almost silent or invisible in literature, Scripture affirms and celebrates women. Women were a part of Jesus’ teaching ministry, part of his life. Women were there for all of it….Jesus made a feminist out of me.”
- Dan Kimball quote from They Like Jesus, but Not the Church, from a conversation with a woman outside of Church – “I feel the Church is very sexist, but I don’t believe Jesus was a sexist. From what I have observed, women in the Church basically sit on the sidelines and are only able to work with children, answer the phones, be secretaries, and serve the men. They seem to be given no voice. The Church seems to only be a Boys’ Club but for adults.”
- This opinion is highlighted by many who Willems talks with
On Junia: Paul says in Romans 16:7 “Say hello to Andronicus and Junia, my relatives and my fellow prisoners. They are prominent among the apostles and they were in Christ before me.”
- For a very long time, Junia became Junias in the manuscripts because of a patriarchal concern. The earliest manuscript evidence we have shows that Junia was a woman. Scot McKnight has an eBook Junia is Not Alone that Willems recommends.
- Junia is called prominent among the apostles, and many say this means the apostles thought a lot of her, she was great. But really, she was an apostle! In the fourth century, we have these words from John Chrysostum:
“Greet Andronicus and Junia . . . who are outstanding among the apostles” (Romans 16:7): To be an apostle is something great. But to be outstanding among the apostles—just think what a wonderful song of praise that is! They were outstanding on the basis of their works and virtuous actions. Indeed, how great the wisdom of this woman must have been that she was even deemed worthy of the title of apostle.
- By this time, women had already lost their place in leadership roles. The world had already imposed its patriarchal lens on the Bible. Even John Chrysostum, who did not recognize women in ministry, recognized that Junia was an apostle.
- It is a curious case that they were so threatened by Junia’s role that they changed her name in the manuscripts. Chyrsostum is probably just scratching his head, saying, “Wow, maybe this is an exception to the rule.”
In upcoming episodes, Willems will be discussing particular passages in which Paul discusses women in ministry. Subscribe and give him a positive review so others will come across this great podcast!
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