Learning to thrive in the new life Jesus offers us – 2 Corinthians 5:16-17

Women and Theology: Jesus said to her . . .

Women and Theology: Jesus said to her

John, the gospel writer, records a few encounters Jesus had with various women. In these encounters Jesus demonstrated, and talked about, theology—a life-giving, vital theology. And he responded to the women’s theological questions in ways which answered their deepest needs.

Jesus and the Samaritan Woman

In John 4:7–26, John relates a long conversation between Jesus and a Samaritan woman. In response to her questions and statements, Jesus tells the woman about his gift of “living water” and about true worship. This conversation with the Samaritan woman is the longest conversation of Jesus recorded in the gospels.

Jesus said to her:

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13–14).

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:23–24).

The Samaritan woman was beginning to realise who Jesus was, and she brings up the subject of the coming Messiah: “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

Jesus said to her

“I, the one speaking to you—I am he” (John 4:25–26).

The Samaritan woman then went and told others about Jesus.

More about the Samaritan woman here.

Jesus and Martha of Bethany

Jesus had previously taught theology to Mary, the sister of Martha (Luke 10:39–25). Jesus took the opportunity to talk to Martha about the resurrection, when she brought up the subject, after the death of her brother Lazarus. This conversation is recorded in John 11:20–28.

Jesus said to her:

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25–26).

Martha’s reply shows that Jesus had also revealed to her that he was the Messiah. She told Jesus, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world” (John 11:27).

Martha recognised Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God. The text shows that she also recognised him as the Teacher (didaskalos) (John 11:28).

More about Martha of Bethany here.

Jesus and Mary Magdalene

John records the first meeting between Mary Magdalene and Jesus after Jesus’ death and resurrection (John 20:14–18). Jesus begins the conversation with two questions.

Jesus said to her:

“Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” (John 20:15).

Mary did not recognise him, until Jesus said to her:

“Mary” (John 20:16).

Mary Magdalene had probably heard Jesus call her by name many times, and she now recognised the familiar voice of her master. Mary responds with “rabboni” which means “my master-teacher”. By calling Jesus “rabboni”, Mary indicates that Jesus had taught her theology, which would have included the finer points of the Kingdom of God. But now she had first hand knowledge of the theology of Jesus’ resurrection.

Following Jesus’ instructions, Mary went and told the other disciples, “I have seen the Lord!” (John 20:18).

More about Mary Magdalene here and here.

Jesus, Women and Theology

Jesus was interested in the lives of women. He engaged them in conversations. He asked them questions. He called them by name. Moreover, he assumed women were interested in theology, and that they needed to know theology for themselves.

Jesus had many female disciples, and he entrusted his teaching to them. Jesus was their Lord, Messiah, and Teacher. And after their encounters with him, these women were equipped to talk about theology to others. Jesus is still equipping women, as well as men, through his Spirit and his Word, to speak up and talk about theology.

The Lord gives the word, and a great army of women proclaim the gospel. Psalm 68:11


Related Articles

Jesus had many female followers—many!
Who will roll away the stone?
The Apostolic Ministry of Gospel Women
Did Priscilla Teach Apollos?
Equality and Unity in Ministry: 1 Corinthians 12

Image: Heralds of the Resurrection by Nikolai Ghe (1867), Tretyakov Gallery (Wikimedia Commons)

Posted March 27th, 2016 . Categories/Tags: Equality and Gender Issues, , , , , ,

Unkind, judgemental, bizarre, and off-topic comments will be deleted.

7 comments on “Women and Theology: Jesus said to her . . .

  1. Cassandra Wright says:

    Ooo – please tell me more about the word “Rabboni!” Is it used in the Bible anywhere else? Where did you get that wonderful definition!!! Can’t help but being a Berean, and I wanna know!!

    Thanks!!

    • Marg says:

      As you know, rabbi is the usual Aramaic word for a Jewish teacher. A rabbon, however, is a Jewish master-teacher.

      Rabbon is the highest title of honor for a teacher in the Jewish schools. Wesley Perschbacher, The New Analytical Greek Lexicon (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1990) 361.

      The suffix equivalent to “-i” means “my”. Thus the Aramaic word rabboni (rabbouni in the Greek texts of John 20:16) literally means “my master-teacher”. 🙂

  2. Tim says:

    This was short and to the point with each of those women, Marg, and how Jesus loved them so much he wanted them to know exactly who he is. He’s a wonderful God who cares about his people. True grace to women and men both.

  3. […] Some have suggested that the woman brought up the subject of worship to change the course of conversation away from an uncomfortable past. I would like to suggest that this woman had a genuine interest in worship and theology, and was asking an honest question to someone she regarded as a prophet (John 4:19). Jesus gives her a meaningful reply and explains that the Father is looking for true worshippers, and that genuinely spiritual worship is not tied to one location (John 4:20-26). (The Gospels record other theological conversations between Jesus and women.) […]

  4. Rosemary Grubb says:

    I love this, was thinking about some of these women the other day and how tradition ascribes to women a position that scripture necessarily doesn’t.

    • Marg says:

      Hi Rosemary, the early Christians loved to embellish on the stories of the first Christians. Sometimes it’s hard to sort fact from fiction.

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