Women in the Pauline Mission
“Women in the Pauline Mission,” in The Gospel for the Nations: Perspectives on Paul’s Mission (ed. Peter G. Bolt and Mark D. Thompson; Leicester, U.K.: IVP, 2000), 221-47.
Paul has been called everything from misogynist to misunderstood with regard to his stance on women in the ministry of the church, and a thorough re-examination of the role women played in the apostle’s mission is needed to clear up some confusion. This is especially important since we are not dealing merely with the mission of one important individual, Paul. Ultimately, Paul’s mission is missio Dei, the mission of God, and the mission of the Holy Spirit through Paul. Called and converted by the risen Christ, led by the Spirit, Paul’s mission arguably transcends the man and his historical-cultural context. If this is true, it also and especially applies to the role women played in the Pauline mission, and it is here that we can ill afford not to listen and learn from the apostle; for today’s churches are in dire need of an authoritative, definitive word on how women (and men) ought to function in the church. In investigating descriptive passages in Paul’s writings that show how women functioned in the Pauline churches and mission, this discussion will proceed in chronological order of writing. After this, Paul’s explicit teaching on women’s roles will be surveyed.