Women in the Lives of Jesus and the Apostles Part 1

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Authored By  :
Bill Kochman

Published On :
April 26, 2012

Last Updated :
April 26, 2012

NOTE: This article or series has not been updated recently. As such, it may possibly contain some outdated information, and/or ideas and beliefs which I no longer embrace, or which have changed to some degree.

Should Women Partake Of The Lord's Supper?, Prominent Women In The New Testament, Mary: The Mother Of Jesus, Elisabeth: Mother Of John The Baptist, The False Perpetual Virginity Doctrine, Brothers And Sisters Of Jesus, Anna The Prophetess, Mary Magdalene, Mary And Martha: Sisters Of Lazarus, Jesus Raises Lazarus From The Dead, Mary: Wife Of Cleophas And The Sister Of Mary The Mother Of Jesus, Six Different Marys In New Testament, Salome, Susanna, Joanna, Mother Of Zebedee's Children, Wife Of Pontius Pilate, Woman That Was Healed Of An Issue Of Blood, Jairus' Daughter, Woman At The Well, Peter's Mother-In-Law Healed, Jesus Feeds Multitudes, Women Grinding At The Mill, Jesus Accepted Women As Companions And Disciples, Theory Regarding Why Jesus Appeared To Mary Magdalene First

Recently, a Facebook friend from Africa sent me a private message in which he informed me that some people -- perhaps members of his church in Zaire, I am not really certain -- were claiming that it was unscriptural for women to partake of the Lord's Supper, or Communion, as it is commonly known. This friend asked me for my opinion, with the request that I provide Scriptural support for my position. I actually found his question rather interesting, because to my recollection, I have never been asked this before in all the years that I have been preaching and teaching the Gospel Message.

Upon reflecting on this person's question for a moment, and prior to conducting any Biblical research, my first reaction was to conclude that, based on my personal knowledge, there are no Scriptures which outright prohibit Christian women from partaking of the Lord's Supper; that is, the Bread and Wine. However, as is my custom, and as my friend requested, I determined to delve more thoroughly into the Scriptures in order to see exactly what they reveal concerning this topic. Allow me to now share the results of my investigation with you.

As many Bible-knowledgeable Christians will already know, in the four Gospels we discover that women were quite prominent in the life of Jesus Christ. Of course, the very first two women to make their appearance in Jesus' life -- at least in the Scriptures -- are his own mother, Mary, and Elisabeth, who was the wife of Zacharias, and the mother of John the Baptist. As you may recall, being led by God's Spirit, Mary went to visit Elisabeth in the hill country of Judea, about the time that Elisabeth was six months pregnant with John the Baptist, as we see by the following verses:

"And after those days his [Zacharias'] wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men. And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth."
Luke 1:24-40, KJV

While it is quite a controversial subject -- at least with staunch Roman Catholics who insist on maintaining the false doctrine concerning Mary's supposed "perpetual virginity" -- the Gospels also lead us to believe that Jesus had at least two sisters, as we see by the following verses:

"Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?"
Matthew 13:55-56, KJV

"Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him."
Mark 6:3, KJV

Another woman of note is the prophetess Anna, who at a very advanced age is blessed with seeing the Christ child in the Temple in Jerusalem, when Joseph and Mary took Jesus there in order to fulfill the Laws of Moses, as we see by these verses:

"And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem."
Luke 2:36-38, KJV

In later years, once Jesus began His public ministry, we learn about other women who became associated with Him. No doubt, the most well-known of these women -- due to the fact that she was a former prostitute out of whom Jesus had cast seven devils -- was Mary Magdalene, or Mary of Magdala. What is unique and special about Mary, aside from the fact that Jesus marvelously delivered her from her demons and totally transformed her life, is that the Scriptures indicate that it was Mary to whom Jesus first appeared following His glorious Resurrection from the dead. We find Mary Magdalene mentioned in the following verses, as well as in a number of other verses which I will be sharing with you momentarily:

"And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance."
Luke 8:1-3, KJV

"Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not."
Mark 16:9-11, KJV

"But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her."
John 20:11-18, KJV

Perhaps the next women who are probably most well-known to a lot of Christians are Martha and Mary, who were the sisters of the Lord's dear friend Lazarus. Even many non-Christians are familiar with the story regarding how Jesus raised their brother Lazarus from the dead. Following is an abbreviated account of that great miracle as it is found in the eleventh chapter of the Gospel of John. Please read the full chapter if you want all of the details concerning this miracle:

"Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus . . . And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house . . . Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him."
John 11:1-5, 19-20, 39-45, KJV

"Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment."
John 12:1-3, KJV

Within the Gospels we also find mention of another Mary who was mother to James the Less and Joses. The Scriptures seem to indicate that this particular Mary was actually married to Cleophas, and that she was in fact the sister of Mary, the mother of Jesus, as we can determine by this verse:

"Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene."
John 19:25, KJV

As confusing as it may appear to the casual reader of God's Word, there appear to be at least five -- and perhaps even six -- different women named "Mary" -- or Miriam -- who are mentioned in the New Testament Scriptures. These women are as follows:

1. Mary, mother of Jesus, married to Joseph
2. Mary, sister of the mother of Jesus, married to Cleophas
3. Mary Magdalene, a.k.a. Mary of Magdala
4. Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus
5. Mary, mother of John whose surname was Mark
6. Mary, greeted by Paul in Romans 16:6

In addition to the aforementioned women, there were likewise Salome, Susanna, Joanna -- who was the wife of King Herod's steward named Chuza -- and the unnamed mother of Zebedee's children; that is, James and John. The aforementioned women were present at different points in the life of Jesus Christ, including up to His Crucifixion, and also during the glorious events which followed His miraculous Resurrection from the dead. The Gospels inform us that these women assisted the Lord and "ministered unto him of their substance" in various ways during the course of His public ministry. All of these points are verified by the following verses:

"And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them."
Matthew 4:21, KJV

"Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father. And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren."
Matthew 20:20-24, KJV

"And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus. And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children . . . And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man. And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned. And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things . . . And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment."
Luke 23:26-28, 46-49, 55-56, KJV

"And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children."
Matthew 27:55-56, KJV

"And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God. There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome; (Who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered unto him;) and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem."
Mark 15:39-41, KJV

"In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me."
Matthew 28:1-10, KJV

"And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid. And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you. And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid."
Mark 15:47-16:8, KJV

"Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered his words, And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles . . . Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not."
Luke 24:1-10, 22-24, KJV

In fact, while some people may possibly object to this, we should probably even include the unnamed wife of the Roman governor of Judaea, Pontius Pilate. While she may not have been a direct follower of Jesus Christ, nevertheless, she specifically warned her husband to not harm the Lord during His trial before the angry Jewish mob in Jerusalem, because God had given her a disturbing dream, and she realized that Jesus was an innocent man, as we see by this verse:

"When he [Pontius Pilate] was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him."
Matthew 27:19, KJV

Of course, there are also other young girls and women who are mentioned in the Gospels, who simply are not as well known by some people as the previous ones who I have mentioned. For example, there is the woman who upon touching the hem of the Lord's garment was immediately healed of her issue of blood. There is also the ruler Jairus' young daughter who Jesus also raised from the dead. Consider the following verses:

"And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet, And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live. And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him. And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague . . . And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly. And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying. And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise. And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment. And he charged them straitly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat."
Mark 5:22-29, 38-43, KJV

Let us also not forget the woman of Samaria who apparently liked to sleep around with men. One day she engaged in a very enlightening conversation with Jesus when she went to fetch water at the well. Not only did Jesus reveal to her that He knew everything about her, but He also taught her about true spiritual worship of our Heavenly Father. Equally important, He offered her the Water of Life as well, as we see by the following verses:

"Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he."
John 4:5-26, KJV

Let us also not forget how Jesus healed the Apostle Peter's mother-in-law of a fever in the Gospel of Matthew, as we see by the following verses:

"And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother laid, and sick of a fever. And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them."
Matthew 8:14-15, KJV

"And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. But Simon's wife's mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her. And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them."
Mark 1:29-31, KJV

In addition, let us also not forget that when Jesus fed the multitudes on several occasions, the Gospels inform us that both women and children were included in those groups, as we can determine by the following verses:

"And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children."
Matthew 14:21, KJV

"And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children."
Matthew 15:38, KJV

It is also worthy of note to mention that when Jesus spoke about His Return in both the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and the Rapture of the Saints, He made it a point to include women in that discussion, as we see by the following verses:

"Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left."
Matthew 24:41, KJV

"Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left."
Luke 17:35, KJV

While I have not included every single mention of young girls and women in the Gospels in the previous paragraphs, the ones I have provided will suffice to make the following important points for my readers.

While all of the previous Scriptural evidence from the four Gospels may not provide us with a direct answer regarding whether or not women should partake of the Lord's Supper, nevertheless, these Scriptural examples do make a very loud statement, and offer us a clear look into the mind of Jesus Christ. That statement is that not only were women very much an integral part of His life and ministry; but He accepted them as friends, companions and Disciples. It is likewise evident that He loved some of them very dearly, and that He did not look down upon women as being lesser beings, who were any less worthy of His love and attention.

Quite to the contrary, as we have seen, aside from His own mother, Mary Magdalene in particular was apparently very special to Jesus. I don't believe that it is a coincidence that she saw Jesus first after He had risen from the dead, even before His own Apostles. There must be a reason why He allowed events to occur in that particular order.

As I pondered this post-Resurrection event that transpired between Jesus and Mary, it occurred to me that maybe Jesus granted Mary this special favor, because He realized that she needed it. If we consider the life of prostitution from which Mary had been liberated, as well as the seven devils from which she had been delivered, perhaps in her heart she was still feeling dirty, guilty and a little bit condemned. Who knows; maybe Mary even doubted Jesus' love for her, as well as His forgiveness. Perhaps she even felt that she was less worthy than the Apostles and other Disciples, so Jesus decided to give her a little bit of extra encouragement by appearing to her first.

Obviously, there is no real Biblical evidence to support this possibility, and it is just a personal theory of mine, so please take what I am sharing here with a grain of salt.

Please go to part two for the continuation of this series:

⇒ Go To The Next Part . . .

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