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

Working Women in the NT: Priscilla, Lydia & Phoebe

This article is available in Spanish here.

Priscilla, the Artisan 

I was chatting with a group of people the other day and, as part of a conversation, my friend “Norman” mentioned that the apostle Paul and a man named Aquila were tentmakers by trade. I piped in and said that Priscilla, Aquila’s wife, was also a tentmaker. Norman looked blank, obviously confused by my comment that Priscilla, a woman, was a tentmaker. His confusion made me feel unsure of the truth of my comment, so I said nothing more about it.

When I got home I checked my New Testament and, sure enough, Acts 18:3b says of Aquila and Priscilla that “they were tentmakers by trade.” Priscilla, as well as her husband Aquila, was an artisan; she was a worker, skilled in a trade.[1] [More on Priscilla here.]

Some may be surprised to realise that a respectable Jewish woman was engaged in a trade in the 1st century AD. This is because many false ideas about the lives of Bible women have crept into our modern imagination, ideas that have little bearing on reality.

The Bible shows that it was not unusual for ancient women to have a job. The Bible mentions women who worked in commercial trade (Prov 31:16a, 24; Acts 16:14 ), in agriculture (Josh 15:17-19; Ruth 2:8; Prov 31:16b), as millers (Exod 11:5; Matt 24:41), as shepherds (Gen 29:9; Exod 2:16), as artisans, especially in textiles (Exod 26:1 NIV; Acts 18:3), as perfumers and cooks (1 Sam 8:13), as midwives (Exod 1:15ff), as nurses (Gen 35:8; Exod 2:7; 2 Sam 4:4; 1 Kings 1:4) as domestic servants (Acts 12:13, etc) and as professional mourners (Jer 9:17). Women could also be patrons (Acts 16:40; Rom 16:1-2) and leaders (Judg ch 4-5; 2 Sam 20:16). One Bible woman even built towns (1 Chron 7:24).  Many women, and men, worked from home, yet the Bible nowhere criticises women who worked outside the home, in the public sphere.

Lynn Cohick (2009:232-238) cites evidence from New Testament times that shows that women were shopkeepers and vendors, jewelry makers, fullers and dyers, and at least one woman was a blacksmith.[2] In the Greco-Roman world – the setting of the New Testament – women could work in just about every profession. A women could not be a soldier or a Roman senator, however.

Many people assume that ancient women spent much of their lives cloistered within their homes. A secluded life may have been the case for some women in wealthy families, but the practice was neither standard nor universal. In Bible times most people were poor, and poor people – both men and women, and even their children – worked hard to provide for their families. Moreover, in the Greco-Roman world, many men, women and children were slaves – and slaves worked.[3]

Working Women in the New Testament

Image: Relief of a women grocer. Ostia, Italy.

Lydia, the Trader

Even some wealthy women worked. Lydia was a wealthy business woman. She was engaged in the lucrative trade of dealing with purple cloth. The purple dye was rare, and the dyed cloth was very expensive. Only the most elite and richest people wore purple clothes, so the cloth was a symbol of power and prestige (cf Judg 8:26; Esth 8:15; Prov 31:22; Luke 16:19).[4] As well as being a business woman, Lydia appears to have been the one in charge of her household.[5]

Working Women in the New TestamentLydia was the first Christian convert in Europe. She responded to Paul’s gospel ministry when he visited her town of Philippi.[6] Subsequently, the fledgling Christian congregation in Philippi met in her home.  Lynn Cohick (2009:190) notes that when Paul and Silas prepare to leave Philippi they went to Lydia’s house (not the jailor’s house) and met with the believers there. Presumably Lydia followed the pattern found throughout the New Testament that the owner of the house in which the church met was also the church leader. [More on Lydia and other church leaders in Philippi here.]

Image: Roman fresco showing two women and a man working together. From the fullonica (dyer’s shop) of Veranius Hypsaeus in Pompeii.

Phoebe, the Patron 

While not exactly a job, being a patron was an influential public role that wealthy women could hold in the first century Greco-Roman world. Lydia appears to have been a patron or benefactor. Phoebe was almost certainly a patron.

Tradition holds that it was Phoebe who carried Paul’s letter to the Romans. As was the custom in those days, the letter carrier bore the authority of the one who sent him or her. A usual part of delivering letters was explaining their contents to the recipient(s) and passing on verbal messages from the sender.[7] So Paul must have thought highly of Phoebe to entrust her with the delivery of his letter.

In Romans 16:1-2 Paul speaks warmly of Phoebe and describes her as both a diakonos and a prostatis.

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a minister (diakonos) of the church which is at Cenchrea; that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and that you assist her in whatever matter she may have need of you; for she has been a patron (prostatis) of many, and of myself as well. Romans 16:1-2.

Paul only ever used the word diakonos in the context of a sacred commission and ministry. [See endnote 8.] Phoebe was a Christian minister in the church of Cenchreae. Phoebe was also a prostatis. This word and its cognates can mean “leader”.

 Kevin Giles (1992:36) writes [9]:

The meaning of [prostatis] has been much debated. In either its masculine or feminine form it means literally ‘one who stands before.’ This meaning is never lost whether it be translated leader, president, protector or patron . . . Its verbal form is proistanai (cf Ths 5:12; 1 Tim 5:17), a term used of male church leaders elsewhere in the New Testament.

 In his first letter to the Corinthians, Clement of Rome used the masculine form of prostatis (prostatēs) in relation to Jesus [10]:

This is the way, beloved, in which we found our salvation; even Jesus Christ, the high priest of our oblations, the champion [prostatēs] and defender of our weakness. 1 Clement 36:1,  translation by Charles Hoole.

This is the way, dearly beloved, wherein we found our salvation, even Jesus Christ the High priest of our offerings, the Guardian [prostatēs] and Helper of our weakness. 1 Clement 36:1, translation by J. B. Lightfoot.

. . . to thee do we give thanks through the high priest and protector [prostatēs] of our souls, Jesus Christ, through whom to thee be the glory and majesty, now and to all generations, world without end. Amen. 1 Clement 61:3b, translation by Charles Hoole.

. . . we praise Thee through the High priest and Guardian [prostatēs] of our souls, Jesus Christ, through whom be the glory and the majesty unto Thee both now and for all generations and for ever and ever. Amen.  1 Clement 61:3b, translation by J.B. Lightfoot

Working Women in the New TestamentOne meaning of prostatis is “patron”.[11] This meaning ties in with Paul’s statement that Phoebe had helped many people including himself. A patron, or benefactor, held a highly respected and influential position in the society of that time. In fact, leadership and benefaction went hand in hand. (Cohick 2009:190)  Phoebe would have had to be wealthy to be a patron. (Like Paul, Jesus was also the recipient of patronage from independently wealthy women.  Women traveled with Jesus and supported him using their own money. Luke 8:1-3.)

Image: Mosaic of wealthy Roman woman, 1st Century AD, Pompeii.

It seems that Phoebe traveled widely for the sake of the Gospel. In his commentary on Romans 16:1-2, Theodoret of Cyrrhus (393-460) writes, “[Paul] opened the world to her and in every land and sea she is celebrated. For not only do the Romans and Greeks know her, but even all the barbarians.” Phoebe was not a stay-at-home wife and mother. She was active as a diakonos and prostatis in the church of Cenchreae and further afield. [More on Phoebe here.]

The Complementarian View of Working Women

Regardless of clear Biblical examples of women who worked outside the home and held positions of influence, Hierarchical Complementarians state that God has created men, and not women, with an orientation towards work.[12]  The Bible verse they use to back this statement is Genesis 2:15.

The LORD God took the human and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. Genesis 2:15

The first woman had not yet been formed when Adam was told to care for the earth in Genesis 2:15.  She  simply wasn’t around.  So while this verse may be understood to indicate that Adam and, by extension, men were created to work, it cannot be understood to imply that only men, and not women, were created to work. Moreover, caring for young children (which most people feel is mainly a woman’s role) feels very much like hard work at times.

Young Women with Young Children

Complementarians promote the idea that the “biblical” ideal is that women stay at home. They teach that the woman’s primary domain (or dominion) is in the home, caring for her husband and children, while the man’s primary domain (or dominion) is outside of the home – working.[13]

The only time that the Bible mentions that women should stay at home is in two instructions regarding young women. In his letter to Titus (who was stationed in Crete), Paul wrote that the older women should, “… teach younger women to love their husbands and children to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” (Titus 2:4b-5).

In his first letter to Timothy (who was stationed in Ephesus), Paul wrote, “ I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach …” (1 Timothy 5:14).[14]

Paul gives his reason for these two sets of instructions: He did not want the word of God to be maligned by opponents of the Christian faith.  Paul wanted the young women to uphold the current cultural ideal of the virtuous Roman matron.  (Our Western cultural mores are very different.)

Paul did not want the young wives of Crete or the young widows of Ephesus bringing disrepute to Christianity by being idle and lazy, and by having the appearance of any sort of shameful misconduct.  It seems that the young Christian wives in Crete may have been bad wives and mothers. The instructions in Titus 2:4-5 are very basic indeed.

The situation in Ephesus was different.  Some people in the Ephesian church were forbidding marriage (1 Tim 4:3). To counteract this heresy, Paul encouraged the young widows to get married.

Paul’s instructions were specifically related to young women of child-bearing age. Nowhere does the Bible give any indication that girls or older women should be confined to the home or restricted to domestic duties.  Furthermore, Paul’s instructions to the young wives and widows were given to a specific group of women in specific churches situated in a culture very different from our own, and cannot be taken as universal, timeless directives to all women.

I personally think it is important for mothers with young children not to have the added burden of being in the workforce.[15] Caring for young children is a tremendously important responsibility. I feel sorry for the parents and the children when both parents work outside of the home, and the children are cared for by professionals and “strangers”. Sadly, our culture and our economy in the West makes it very difficult for a parent to stay at home with their young children.


While I think that the ideal situation is that parents, the father or the mother, stay at home with young children, I cannot see that God frowns upon working women. The Bible never tries to make the case that women were not made with an orientation for work. Rather, the Bible shows us that many godly women worked.

Priscilla, Lydia and Phoebe worked, traveled and had influential leadership roles in ministry. Interestingly, nothing is mentioned of Lydia’s or Phoebe’s husbands. We do not even know whether any of these women had children. Apart from knowing that Priscilla was married to Aquila, Paul did not identify these women by their family relationships or their domestic situations. Instead they were described and identified by their work, their travels and their ministries.[16] They were just three Bible women who worked.


[1] Priscilla and Aquila are mentioned six times in the New Testament. Priscilla’s name is mentioned before Aquila’s in four of these verses, indicating either her superior rank or, more likely, her prominence in ministry. Priscilla and Aquila were ministry colleagues of Paul and they led churches in their home in Rome and later in Ephesus. It is clear from the few verses about Priscilla and Aquila that they traveled a great deal in their lifetime. [More on Priscilla here.]

[2] A lot of the new insights about women in New Testament times (gleaned from ancient inscriptions and papyri) are taking a long time to reach Christian ministers (and their congregations), many of whom continue to teach that women were largely confined to the home and domestic duties.

[3] In some cultures the virgin daughters of marriageable age (of wealthy families) were cloistered. It is widely known that in Classical times women in Athens were cloistered, but women in Sparta had great freedoms and powers. In New Testament times, women in Macedonia (which included the cities of Philippi and Thessalonica, etc,) had great freedoms and powers.

[4] Rome held an imperial monopoly over the purple dye extracted from the muricid mollusc (Tyrian murex). This mollusc flourished in the waters near Thyatira where Lydia was from. (Cohick 2009:188-189)

[5] “Luke presents [Lydia] as master in the home, for she leads her household in baptism, much the same way as the jailer does later in the story (Acts 16:33-34). Moreover, she invites Paul and Silas into her home, again presenting a picture of one in charge of the household. . . that she had a home large enough to accommodate Paul and his group, as well as the finances to care for their needs, suggests that she was wealthy . . . Lydia is portrayed as a benefactor, a very privileged position in the Hellenistic world (including Judaisim) . . . Leadership and benefaction went hand in hand  . . . .” (Cohick 2009:189-190)

[6] Paul met Lydia at a Jewish meeting. Paul only addresses women (Acts 16:13). Paul does not seem to have felt it was inappropriate for him to join the women and tell them about Jesus.

[7] More about the role of letter carriers in New Testament times here.

[8] Whenever the Apostle Paul used the term diakonos, he used it in reference to someone with a sacred commission, a minister of the gospel, not to a steward. (Romans 13:6, which is about government ministers, is one exception.) Paul referred to several New Testament people, including himself, as diakonoi (ministers): Paul (Rom 15:25;  1 Cor 3:5; Eph 3:7; Col 1:23, etc), Epaphras (Col 1:7), Tychicus (Eph 6:21-22; Col 4:7-9), Phoebe (Rom 16:1-2), Apollos (1 Cor 3:5) and even Jesus Christ (Mark 10:42-45; Rom 15:8).

In Paul’s letter to the Romans, diakonos is used in reference to Jesus (Rom 15:8); to Paul (Rom 15:25); to Phoebe (Rom 16:1-2) and to government ministers who are to be regarded as “God’s servants” (Rom 13:6).

[9] “House-Church Leadership and the Rise of the Monarchical Bishop” in Patterns of Ministry Among the First Christians,Sydney: Collins Dove Publishers, 1992, by Kevin Giles.

[10] I am indebted to Suzanne McCarthy for pointing this out.

[11] LSJ lexicon (pp 1526–27) identifies prostatis as the feminine form of prostatēs, for which it gives the following meanings: “one who stands before, front-rank man . . . leader, chief . . . ruler . . . chief authors . . . administrator . . . president or presiding officer . . . one who stands before and protects, guardian, champion . . . patron . . . suppliant . . . .”

[12] This statement is found in a course (designed for young people) that promotes complementarian gender roles.  A sample of the course can be found on John Piper’s website “Desiring God” here.

[13] The concept of the two domains: the outer, public domain for men and the inner, private domain for women was first put forward by the Greek philosopher, Aristotle. [More about Aristotle and his views on men and women here.]

[14] It seems that the idle widows may have been helping the spread of a proto-Gnostic heresy that was plaguing the Ephesian church by going door to door with their silly talk (1 Tim 5:13-15 cf 1 Tim 1:3; 6:20-21). [My articles on 1 Timothy 2:12 in Context here.]

[15] This is a verse I often give to new mothers:

[God] tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.  Isaiah 40:11 (NIV 2011) cf Genesis 33:13-14.

[15] The way the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) board members are listed on this page is a ridiculous example of a hierarchical gender bias. The male board members are identified by their professional ministry titles. The women, however, are identified primarily as homemakers (except for one lady whose primary descriptor is “pastor’s wife”); this is despite the fact that these women are writers, speakers and university professors, etc.

In contrast to Paul, the CBMW see a woman’s identity as primarily linked with her role in the home and who she is married too. They consider that a woman’s outside interests, talents, skills, titles, ministries or career are not nearly as important as being a homemaker. Yet no Bible woman is identified primarily as a homemaker. The CBMW are going beyond what the Bible says about women.

Further Reading:

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Lynn H. Cohick’s book, Women in the World of the Earliest Christians: Illuminating Ancient Ways of Life, Baker Academic, 2009. It is one of the resources I used for this article.

Related Articles

Busy at Home: How does Titus 2:4-5 apply today?
Did Priscilla Teach Apollos?
Lydia and the ‘Place of Prayer’ in Philippi
Phoebe: A Deacon of the Church in Cenchrea
Is motherhood the highest calling for women?
Mark Chanski on Gender Roles
Bible Women with Spiritual Authority
The Women who Protected Moses

Posted November 1st, 2011 . Categories/Tags: Church History, Equality and Gender Issues, Equality in Marriage, Equality in Ministry, Women in Ministry, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

46 comments on “Working Women in the NT: Priscilla, Lydia & Phoebe

  1. Deborah says:

    A great article, Marg. I personally felt conflicted reading Cohick’s book. It had great information, but I felt like she was trying hard to paint anything that might have occasionally been possible for women in that age as far more normative than other literature would suggest. I know that she has new information available to her, but you don’t want to toss out the old either. It felt rather rosy-tinted to me for sure. But it’s a useful book and easy to read.


  2. Marg says:

    Hi Deborah 🙂

    Do you remember which bits concerned you the most?

    Lynn drew information from a vast array of evidence from inscriptions and papyri, but I didn’t think that she presented her information as necessarily normative. She was also careful to avoid making theological statements.

    I actually do think it was “normal” for ordinary women to be involved in some sort of work – perhaps a family business or in agriculture – in Bible times.

    Please let me know you mean by “the old”.

  3. Don says:

    Great article!

    2 minor points.

    1. Tentmaker MAY have referred to someone who made the head covering that Jews used when praying, as these were called “tents” as an idiom,

    2. I think the masculine term is prostates, not prostatis, which I think is feminine.

  4. Marg says:

    Don, I have never heard that “tent-making” may mean making head coverings used for prayer. Have you got more info on this?

    Thanks for pointing out my error about prostatis (f) and prostatēs (m). I’ve make the correction in my article. (Clement used the accusative of prostatēs in the passage I quoted.)

  5. Deborah says:

    Marg, I wish I remembered better where I’d read what from different historians to tell you who I’d like to explore more for “the old.” I had just read Jeremias whom she critiques, which was helpful for me [and, no, I wouldn’t hold him as the exemplar]. I guess I just felt like she was so rightly eager, for instance, to correct caricatures of ancient Jews as has been a concern for Jewish scholars too that my overall sense was that there wasn’t real attention to the degree of oppression that was likely the environment of the time.

    She DOES indeed say that she’d expressing possibilities she could picture for women in those times based on the newer discoveries, and I appreciated that she did put that caveat in. I guess I just kept reading some things like, “Yes, this option was open, but wasn’t it [not talking about slave labor and the like] most likely open to exceptional women born in exceptional circumstances and likely generally discouraged from what else we know?” Maybe I had too many expectations of how nuanced the discussion would be for the scope of the book.

    Perhaps part of it could be summed up by my reaction to one element of the Christianity Today article. I think she gives a helpful challenge to the typical view of the Jewish prayer thanking God that, among other things, they were not born a woman. But what living woman who has experienced a religious crowd of men could really believe the *likelihood* that such a prayer aimed at thanking God that they can participate in temple worship does not frequently contain disdain for women? I understand that we don’t want to apply paint strokes that may be unfair, but while, for instance, a nobleman in the era of serfdom might indeed piously thank God for his position and mean well by it and be unable to think outside of the box of what is the experience of his cultural era, how apt is that gratitude to be free of entitlement and prejudice? We know human nature too well. I don’t like to think of myself as a cynic, but that is the way I respond to explaining away statements like that which were not isolated (and some rabbinical sayings and philosopher’s sayings simply can’t be explained away as you know) even if they were a part of a more diverse fabric than we have frequently recognized to be there.

    I guess I just wanted her to address the magnitude of the challenge that would have to have been before most women to even see themselves outside of some of the pervasive attitudes of their day. And I also do believe (and maybe I shall be corrected as I continue to read others) that Christianity was notably liberating for women, not just occasionally allowing women to do things that they were already occasionally allowed to do in cults and Judaism in roughly the same proportions. Maybe I’ve been to effected by previous reading and by how I envision women responding in scriptures, but it really seemed a bit countercultural to me, which is not the sense I get from her. Nice and vague response, eh?

    • Ann says:

      The prayer about thanking G-d one is not born a woman was misunderstood….www.Jewishanswers.org: There is a prayer that observant Jews say every morning that consists of 13 consecutive blessings and 3 of those blessings go as follows:

      Blessed are You …. that You did not make me a non-Jew
      Blessed are You …. that You did not make me a slave.
      Blessed are You …. that You did not make me a woman.

      Women substitute the last blessing with “Blessed are You …. that You made me according to Your will.”

      The succession of these 3 is curious and the classic interpretation of the succession is that Jews are thanking G-d for the commandments they were given, starting from the individual with the least commandments, a non-Jew who only has 7, moving on to a Slave who has many more commandments, and finally a woman who has even more commandments. The Jew thanks G-d that he was given 613 commandments, many more than a non-Jew, a slave, or even a woman. The prayer has nothing to do with the equality of these individuals. It is only a contrast of the amount of commandments each was given by G-d.

      • Marg says:

        I suspect Paul was thinking about this ancient prayer when he wrote Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

        Paul’s words here directly correspond with: “Blessed are you God of the universe who has not made me a Gentile (goy), who has not made me a slave, who has not made me a woman.”

        (The phrase said by Jewish women is a much later addition.)

        More about Paul’s words in Galatians 3:28 here: http://newlife.id.au/christian-living/galatians-3_28-identity/

  6. Marg says:

    Perhaps our different take on the book is that you may have focussed more on the Jewish women, where as I was more interested in the Greco-Roman women (?).

    I love the whole Bible, but I am especially drawn to Paul’s letters, and of course his audience/readers where primarily Greco-Roman.

    I really do believe that 1st century Mediterranean women were not as sheltered as we have generally been led to believe. That’s not to say that they had our freedoms!!! 🙂

  7. Deborah says:

    No, I was not more focused on Hebrew women, but she was careful to undo some stereotypes there. I was very glad to read the book and glad for her contribution; I just feel like now I really need to read a lot more to try to figure out the balance if I can. Again thanks for this article. I find comp attitudes about working women vary a lot, but there usually is still a base line of thinking this is more man’s domain (and certainly that children are less his domain), and your clear exposition here should be a helpful reference.

  8. Marg says:

    Thanks for your comments, Deborah. I apreciate them, and I appreciate your caution.

  9. […] Lydia was a wealthy woman and the first Christian convert in Philippi. In fact Lydia was the first Christian convert in Europe. […]

  10. […] The poorer women and slave women, on the other hand, did not have fancy hairstyles, they did not own anything made from gold, they did not own pearls, and their clothes were simple, plain and inexpensive.  Furthermore they had to work hard to support their families. […]

  11. […] Paul gave this instruction to the young Ephesian widows because of certain problems within the Ephesian church.  One of the more serious problems was the spread of false teaching within the church.  It seems that the younger Ephesian widows were engaging in irresponsible conversation and conduct which may have involved listening to, and spreading, false teaching.  This even led to some of the young widows wandering from the truth to follow Satan (1 Timothy 5:13-15).  […]

  12. Don Johnson says:

    The tent meaning “head covering” is from Messianics, but I forget whom.

  13. […] Working Women in the New Testament […]

  14. […] The following are all the women mentioned by Paul in his letters: Apphia (Phm 1:2), Claudia (2 Tim 4:21), Chloe (1 Cor 1:11), Euodia (Php 4:2), Julia (Rom 16:15), Junia (Rom 16:7), Lois and Eunice (2 Tim 1:5), Mary (Rom 16:6), Nereus’ sister (Rom 16:15), Nympha (Col 4:15), Persis (Rom 16:12), Phoebe (Rom 16:1-2), Priscilla (Rom 6:3-5); 1 Cor 16:19; 2 Tim 4:19), Rufus’ mother (Rom 16:13), Syntyche (Php 4:2), Tryphena and Tryphosa (Rom 16:12). These women were actively involved in significant ministry, some as leaders. […]

  15. […] Aquila, Priscilla and Paul were all tentmakers by profession.  During Paul’s third Missionary tour, Paul stayed with Priscilla and Aquila at Ephesus for three years. […]

  16. […] The question you should most concern yourself with, is, “Am I supposed to work away from home?” Because the Bible shows there were women holding a wide variety of positions outside the home. There were shepherd, tent makers, nurses, domestic servants, bakers, perfumers, textile producers and vendors, and real estate investors. (Working women in the Bible) […]

  17. […] “Paul valued Priscilla, Euodia and Syntyche as his co-workers in the Gospel ministry. He refers to Junia as outstanding among the apostles. He commends Phoebe as a sister, patroness and minister. He acknowledges the ministry labours of Tryphena, Tryphosa and Persis. He took seriously a report from Chloe of Corinth. He passed on greetings from Claudia of Rome, and sent greetings to Apphia of Colossae. He warmly mentions no less than ten women in Roman 16. He recognised the house church of Nympha in Laodicea. He accepted the hospitality of Lydia in Philippi. He respected the faith of Lois and Eunice. Paul valued the ministry of women and even compared his own ministry to that of a breastfeeding woman.” […]

  18. […] Some material in this post come from a previous article Working Women in the New Testament here. […]

  19. […] Is motherhood the highest calling for women? Busy at Home: How does Titus 2:4-5 apply today? Working Women in the New Testament Gender Obsessions: Emphasizing our Differences or Similarities? Role or Rank? Instant […]

  20. […] Phoebe is described by Paul as a sister, a minister and a patron or leader.  Phoebe was probably the person entrusted with taking Paul’s letter to the Romans (Romans 16:1-2).  Paul obviously held Phoebe, and many other women ministers, in high regard.  More about Phoebe, and other New Testament women, here. […]

  21. […] Working Women in the New Testament […]

  22. […] (18) Be involved in agriculture or industry: Various women (Gen 29:9; Ex 2:16; Josh 15:17-19; Ruth 2:8; Acts 16:14; 18:3).  More working women here. […]

  23. […] Did you know that women worked to support the Church in the New Testament? Some were skilled laborers, artisans, and cooks. Women in the New Testament worked hard! Marg Mowczko has a blog post that discusses this in detail: http://newlife.id.au/equality-and-gender-issues/new-testament-working-women/ […]

  24. Bev Murrill says:

    This is such an outstanding post Marg. Thanks for taking the time to put these really insightful posts out for all of us. There’s a deep burden of guilt and shame put on many Christian women because they go to work… and bizarrely, it’s not there when they go to work for the church as a volunteer. It causes people to live in tension between reality and a super spiritualised perspective of family life and women’s role in it.

  25. […] Working Women in the NT: Priscilla, Lydia and Phoebe “Many people assume that ancient women spent much of their lives cloistered within their homes. A secluded life may have been the case for some women in wealthy families, but the practice was neither standard nor universal.” […]

  26. […] Euodia and Syntyche worked with Paul for the gospel (Phil. 4:2-3). And Priscilla and her husband Aquila traveled and ministered with Paul (Acts 18:18 cf Romans 16:3-4). Moreover, Paul refers to Phoebe (Rom. 16:1-2) and Apphia (Phm 1:2) as “sisters”. […]

  27. […] Working Women in the New Testament: Priscilla, Lydia and Phoebe […]

  28. Bev Murrill says:

    Really well thought out article, Marg which addresses the issues of families and homes who feel that women should not go out to work. It’s hard to understand how people explain the natural giftings and skill sets God has given to women in business, accounts, art, preaching, the medical field and others, if they were not to use those gifts.

    God has a great economy, nothing is ever wasted in His Kingdom, so why would anyone think He gives gifts to (wo)men and then command they don’t use them.

  29. […] Working Women in the New Testament: Priscilla, Lydia, and Phoebe […]

  30. […] Working Women in the New Testament: Priscilla, Lydia & Phoebe […]

  31. […] Working Women in the New Testament: Priscilla, Lydia, and Phoebe […]

  32. […] Marg Mowczko: Working Women in the NT: Priscilla, Lydia & Phoebe […]

  33. […] Working Women in the NT: Priscilla, Lydia & Phoebe […]

  34. […] Working Women in the New Testament: Priscilla, Lydia & Phoebe […]

  35. Deborah W says:

    For some reason I woke up this morning thinking of “Aquila, Priscilla and the ‘working of purple'” which led me to googling and to this article. I found it interesting.

  36. K. G. Adams says:

    I think that a parent needs to be at the home with the kids (if at all possible), but it could be either parent, and regardless of which parent is the primary breadwinner and which one is at home with the kids, BOTH parents need to be actively involved in their children’s lives.

    • Marg says:

      Hi K.G.

      I was a stay-at-home mother, and I’m glad that my daughter-in-law is a stay-at-home mother for my grandchildren. But for most of the world’s history, most able-bodied men and women worked in some way for their livelihood. Sometimes they worked very hard and for long hours.

      For the slightly richer people (for both men and women), work was done in their homes which included a shopfront or workshop. In other more primitive societies young adults, including parents, worked the land, etc, while grandparents and other older relatives did much of the child minding. It was only the very rich, elite men and women who did not work for money or sustenance.

      Whatever the situation, small children need their family around them to care and nurture them, in preference to professionals and strangers.

      • K. G. Adams says:

        I agree. The prioritiy of BOTH parents should be what’s best for the children, NOT just the mother. Couples need to decide TOGETHER what is best for their family in terms of who works and who’s at home with the kids.

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