Female Foundations of the Apostolic Ministry

The definition we have of “Apostle” is “one who was with us from the beginning” who will “bear witness to His resurrection”. (Acts 1:21-23) Since “Apostle” carries the idea of “one who is sent” there is an idea of being commissioned (Matthew 28:18-20) This are qualifications that Paul recognized himself unqualified to fill. Mary Magdalene, however, has these qualifications and held them before all the others. She was the one that Jesus sent to tell the others that He had risen. The Apostical Ministry is modeled on this pattern latter repeated in the other others. “I have been with Him, I have seen Him raised, He has told me to go and announce Him to others.”

If we think this is time-bound (say, by attempting to justify a male only bias by pointing out the male pronouns in Acts 1) then we have a problem. The ultimate and Eschatological model for this same work is also female. The Bible ends with the Spirit powered witness to the Resurrected Jesus pleading with the world to come to Him. When looking for an image that best suits this role and embodies the nature of the role, Christ has John write, “The Spirit and the Bride say Come.” The announcement of the Risen Lord not only has a female foundation, it also has a feminine future.

Gender obsession was not a problem of the Bible, nor of the early church. Granted, the Torah give us gender specific ways to navigate life in the unique features and roles in which we find ourselves. But as for those roles and callings, the Bible celebrates women and men who live out what God has called them to do. Empowering all God’s people for whatever ministry God calls them to does not have to be the church getting on with the program of the culture. It is done best when it is done as the Church getting on with the program of God as revealed in the Scriptures.

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