Introduction: Understanding Social & Cultural Views on Women in the First Century A.D.
Jesus’ radically counter-cultural treatment of women within the first century A.D. reveals His value for them despite society's view of them at that time as merely property (SOURCE: Tatha Wiley, PhD) to be controlled (SOURCE: Claudia V. Camp), whose sole purpose in life was to produce and nurture children (SOURCE: Greg, Forbes, PhD and Scott D. Harrower, PhD). Some scholars, like the French-American Samuel Lucien Terrien, believe a women’s status at that time was “slightly above that of a Greco-Roman slave" (SOURCE: Samuel L. Terrien). Women were often considered to be “impure, subordinate and inferior human creatures(s)” in the post-exilic period (SOURCE: Greg, Forbes, PhD and Scott D. Harrower, PhD). Jesus, on the other hand, defies tradition by allowing women not only to be active participants in His ministry but also to be contributors to His ministry.
While Greco-Roman philosophers like Philo of Alexandria portrayed women as mentally inferior (SOURCE: Philon d’Alexandrie), Jesus praises followers like Mary for defying social norms while acting as a student of His teachings (Luke 10:38–42 NLT).
The Gospels record a number of women who are models of faith, including the first evangelist, with whom Jesus shares His identity as the Messiah before anyone else in scripture (John 4:1–42). Jesus defends women (Matthew 26:6–13; Mark 14:3–9; Luke 7:36–50; John 12:1–8), and He even highlights women’s example at times when His own disciples fall short (Mark 12:41–44, Luke 21:1–4). Jesus chose women to be witnesses of His Word, preachers of His resurrection, and Apostles to the Apostles. While Jesus’ behavior and attitude towards women was considered radical at the time, it is important to remember that Jesus asks the same treatment of women today, as He treated them two thousand years ago.
"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute."