Top Women Leaders in the Bible

by | Apr 22, 2024

Author and theologian Lewis B. Smedes said

From the outset, women are portrayed as essential participants in the divine plan, from the creation narrative where woman is depicted as the indispensable counterpart to man, to the New Testament accounts where women play central roles in the ministry of Jesus and the early church.

Women are integral to the Biblical narrative, playing significant roles in shaping history, proclaiming the Gospel, and advancing God’s redemptive plan.

And there are many different examples of strong, fearless women leaders in the Bible. From battles in the Old Testament to church leadership in the New Testament, women have played an important role in what God is doing on the earth.

Let’s take a closer look at 5 of these fearless female leaders in the Bible.

Fearless Women Leaders in the Bible

1. Deborah
Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. 1
Judge. Prophetess. Leader.

Deborah is a key figure in the Old Testament. She served Israel with integrity and faithfulness, ultimately leading them to victory over the Canaanites.

Deborah provided wise counsel during her tenure as a judge in Israel, and exemplified faith and courage in the midst of intense circumstances.

Regarding Deborah, author Warren Wiersbe said

Deborah stands out as one of the remarkable leaders of Israel, both as a prophetess and as a judge. Her story illustrates the power and presence of God working through unexpected means and individuals.

2. Ruth

The Bible Project team writes

Ruth shows how God is at work in the day to day activities of average people. 2

Ruth was a Moabite woman in the Old Testament. After her husband passed away, she chose to stay with her mother-in-law, rather than leave, putting herself in a less than desirable situation.

She ultimately meets a man named Boaz, and they marry, in a beautiful illustration of God’s love for His people.

Through her loyalty and faithfulness, she represented the heart of God. And through her devotion, she became an ancestor of King David, ultimately being a member of the lineage of Jesus Christ

3. Mary

Mary was chosen by God to bear the Messiah and be the mother of Jesus.

Exemplifying humility and confident trust in God, Mary gave birth to the Messiah and raised Him up, ultimately releasing Him into His calling as the Messiah and Savior.

Regarding Mary, St. Augustine said

Mary, chosen to be the mother of God Incarnate, epitomizes humility, surrender, and unwavering trust in God’s promises, setting a profound example for all believers to emulate.

Mary is an integral part of the Biblical story, playing a crucial role in the incarnation of Christ, and serving as an example of faith and surrender to God’s plan.

4. Lydia

Mentioned in the New Testament, Lydia was a businesswoman from Thyatira who dealt with purple cloth, an item associated with luxury and royalty.

In attendance at one of the Apostle Paul’s teachings in Philippi, Lydia was converted to Christianity. After this, the Scriptures tell us that Lydia opened her home to Paul and his companions, providing hospitality and support for their ministry.

The team at Theology of Work writes

In Lydia we see a woman whose skill and interest is not confined to one limited area. Indeed, we see that both her position in commerce and her knowledge of faith made her uniquely qualified to spearhead the church in Greece. 3

Because of this, Lydia served an important role in announcing the Kingdom of God to Gentiles in regions outside of Jerusalem.

5. Priscilla

Priscilla was a prominent figure in the early Christian community. Both her and her husband, Aquila, were known for their tent-making trade and their ministry in Corinth, Ephesus, and Rome.

Priscilla and Aquila played a vital role in instructing Apollos, a gifted speaker, in the Way of Jesus. Their partnership as husband and wife exemplified a model of collaboration and co-laboring together in the building of the church.

Author Hope Bolinger writes

Priscilla had a mastery for tent making, hospitality, and theology. God used all three to help bring many to him. 4

The Apostle Paul also included Priscilla in his greetings and commendations in his New Testament letters, signifying her contributions in the early church and underscoring her role in spreading the Gospel and building the church.

The Role of Women in Jesus’ Ministry

Women also played a vital role in the ministry of Jesus. At a time when women had limited legal rights and social status, Jesus invited women into the Kingdom of God. In doing so, Jesus revealed their status before God and their calling to co-labor with Jesus in establishing His Kingdom on the earth.

In and through the life of Jesus, we see the high view and value God has for women, which had been lost due to sin and its effects on God’s created order.

Let’s explore three important roles women played in the ministry of Jesus.

Discipleship and Learning

Women, such as Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna, were among those who followed Jesus, listened to his teachings, and learned from him.

Luke writes in his gospel account

After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means. 5

These women were part of Jesus’ inner circle of disciples, walking with Jesus and learning from Him.

Support and Service

Women played crucial roles in supporting Jesus and his disciples during their ministry. These women also consistently revealed their devotion to God through their purity of heart and worship.

Mary of Bethany anointed Jesus with expensive perfume as an act of devotion and worship in John 12. In Luke 12, we see that women provided financial support for Jesus’ ministry.

Luke 10 also shows us the hospitality of Martha as she welcomed Jesus into her home, serving Him and His followers.

Witness and Proclamation

Women were instrumental as witnesses to key events in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

Mary Magdalene was the first to witness Jesus’ resurrection and was commissioned by him to announce the good news to the disciples in John 20.

Throughout the Gospels, women played significant roles as witnesses to Jesus’ teachings, miracles, crucifixion, and resurrection, testifying to the truth of His ministry and message.

Honoring Women in Scripture

Women play a significant role in the Biblical narrative, despite occupying marginalized positions in ancient cultures.

From Old Testament figures like Deborah, Ruth, and Esther to New Testament figures like Mary, Lydia, and Priscilla, the Scriptures assert the influential role of women in God’s plan of redemption.

These stories and others demonstrate courage, faithfulness, and resilience in the face of adversity. And the Scriptures consistently reveal and affirm God’s love for and the inherent dignity of all individuals, both male and female.

Ready to Grow Your Leadership in a Biblical Way?

At AWKNG School of Theology, we are passionate about helping you grow your leadership in a Biblical way. Through the resources and courses we’ve created, you’ll develop a deeper understanding of God’s Word, empowering you to lead others in the ways and teachings of the Scriptures.

If you’re looking to grow your leadership capacity, or you’d like to dive deeper into the history, beauty, and mystery of God’s Word, take a moment to explore our library of online resources here.

And if you’re looking for a way to deepen your understanding of the Bible and topics such as the importance of female leaders in the Bible, we encourage you to check out our online Bible study.

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