Women in the Storyline of Redemptive History

The #MeToo movement has sparked some good conversations about the value and significance of women, a conversation that has moved into the church in helpful ways (#ChurchToo).

A friend’s tweet got me thinking about the significant role women play in the Bible’s storyline of redemption.

So, for my own benefit, I started jotting an off-the-cuff list of notable places women show up. I stopped at twenty.

I ended up posting it to Twitter as “Twenty observations of women in the storyline of redemptive history from Genesis to Revelation.”

A friend suggested I post it on the blog. So, here it is!

UPDATE: I’ve updated this list to twenty-one observations. The new #4 was just too good to leave off!

(Download a printable PDF of this list.)

Twenty-one observations of women in the storyline of redemptive history from Genesis to Revelation:

  1. A woman’s absence is the first thing to be declared “not good” in creation (Genesis 2:18).
  2. The woman is specifically named as having enmity with the serpent (Genesis 3:15).
  3. A woman will give birth to the serpent-crushing seed—the Messiah (Genesis 3:15).
  4. A woman is the first and only character—male or female—in the Old Testament to confer on God a name (Genesis 16:13).
  5. Women—often brave, vulnerable, and oppressed—often act at decisive moments in redemptive history to preserve the endangered line of the seed (e.g. Tamar, Genesis 38; the Hebrew midwives, Ex 1:15-21; Rahab, Joshua 2; Ruth; Esther; et al).
  6. Women were the first to believe the announcement that Jesus and his forerunner (John) soon would be conceived (Luke 1:5-38). Likewise, they were the first to speak aloud of it.
  7. A woman and her (in utero) child are the first recorded people to recognize the arrival of the Messiah on earth (Luke 1:39-45).
  8. A woman is the first recorded to verbally declare the Messiah’s presence on earth (Luke 1:39-45).
  9. A woman voices the first song/poem of the New Testament, praising God for the arrival of the Messiah (Luke 1:46-55).
  10. A woman is the first to expect and request a miraculous sign (John 2:1-11).
  11. A woman is the first recorded “non-Jewish” person (a Samaritan) to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. She is also the first to go tell a community of others about him (John 4:4-42).
  12. Women are the only people mentioned to give general, regular financial provision (out of their own means) to Jesus and the Twelve (Luke 8:3). We are told elsewhere that the disciples had a common moneybag to pay for their needs; this is the only insight into the underwriting of their itinerant ministry.
  13. A woman is never recorded (in any of the Gospels) as acting against Jesus. His recorded enemies were exclusively men.
  14. Women were the last to be noted to stay with Jesus at the cross (along with one disciple, John) (John 19:25).
  15. A woman is the last to be directly ministered to by Jesus before his death (John 19:26-27).
  16. Women were the first tasked with proclaiming the news of the resurrection (Matt 28:7).
  17. A woman is the first to see the resurrected Lord Jesus and also the first to touch his resurrected body (Mt 28:9; John 20:14).
  18. A woman is the first to hear the resurrected Lord’s voice—and a woman’s name is the first name uttered by the risen Jesus (John 20:14-18).
  19. Women (mistreated and overlooked) were the impetus for the appointing of the first deacons (Acts 6:1)—one of which, Stephen, became the first martyr (Acts 7).
  20. A woman’s name is the first listed in three of the four times that Paul greets people by name (Romans 16:1, 3; Colossians 4:15; 2 Timothy 4:19). In the fourth instance, the first mention is a couple, with her name coming second (1 Corinthians 16:10, “Aquila and Prisca”). These are the only greetings in the Epistles to feature specific names.
  21. A “woman’s” voice (aside from John as the author of Revelation) is the last to be quoted in the Bible (Rev 22:17).