If you are looking for topics that have been challenging God’s people down through the centuries, this is it. Jesus shocked the people who knew or heard of his ministry early in the first century by the innovative attitudes he had toward good women. Women were a vital part of his personal ministry. But it was what would happen in the church he established that would become the concern. During those days after the ascension of Christ when the apostles and a 109 other disciples met in the upper room praying and waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit on them with power, it included women among whom was Mary the mother of Jesus. When the Holy Spirit came with Power, with a loud noise like a rushing wind and divided tongues of fire sitting on each of the recipients, multitudes were brought together wondering what was going on.
One significant point in the discussion of God’s woman in God’s church is found on this day when the church began. As the people in amazement asked what in the world this could mean, Peter stood with the other apostles to speak. He began by dejecting the foolish answer that had been offered, that they were drunk. Then he proclaimed, “But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams, even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy, And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke, the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Peter would continue to point to other prophesies that were being fulfilled on this great day when the church was launched. But it is extremely important for out topic to look closely at this prophesy.
Joel’s prophesy was clearly about the messianic age and the promised kingdom that was coming. Peter’s declaration that this was exactly what Joel had been pointing to would be a huge announcement. Certainly, not everything prophesied was fulfilled that day. Peter’s point was that this was the beginning of what was being described. Both the all flesh aspect and the Whoever calls on the name of the Lord to be saved was pointing to the opening of God’s kingdom to gentiles as well as Jews. It would take some time and even some miraculous convincing of Peter himself to carry the message of Jesus to Gentiles as recorded in chapter ten of Acts. It was likely some ten years later when that event would take place and from there disciples would begin to move out from their own people to reach people in cities like Antioch who had no Jewish background. It wasn’t the case on that Pentecost day that all these different groups received the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saw visions or dreams. But the doors was being opened to what was coming.
With regard to God’s woman, it is significant that Joel prophesied and Peter said, this is that taking place, that sons and daughters were pictured together as prophesying, male and female servants were to have this gift of the Holy Spirit in power poured out on them. When it is said of Philip’s four virgin daughters that they prophesied, it was at least a part of the fulfillment of this promise. While we may argue about the use of this gift in the church assembly, it would be completely wrong to try to argue that such things weren’t part of the church of the Lord. Later we will examine the teachings of both I Corinthians 11 and 14 in the use of women in prophesy. But it is vital to begin with to point out that God had always planned for the godly woman to have a huge place of ministry in the church. That ministry was to include such things as prophesying which was the “Forth telling” of God’s revelation to others. Typically such proclamation of God’s revelation involved the direct revelation from God rather than just the study and reading of God’s word and sharing that with someone else. So, let’s just lay down one major point to be built on as we proceed. It is that any interpretation of the work of God’s woman in God’s church that doesn’t have room for godly women at least in that day of God’s direct revelations, being ones who received such revelations and could share the prophesies with others can’t be what the New Testament teaches. We will build on that principle as we move forward in the coming studies.