Women in the New Testament

Women in the culture of the New Testament were low in the social order, little more than property. They were not considered worthy to be a witness in the courts of the era. Yet, they played a vital role in the life and ministry of Jesus. Some were the last at the cross and first at the tomb. The first evangelist was a woman. Consider the roll of some.

AT THE CROSS: There were four women near the cross. (John 19: 25 – 27) 

Mary the mother of Jesus was experiencing what Simeon had predicted, an emotional sword was piercing her heart. (Luke 2: 35)

Salome, mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee.

Mary, the wife of Cleopus, neither of which are mentioned anywhere else in the Bible.

Mary Magdalene, one out of which Jesus had cast demons. (Mark 16: 9, Luke 8: 2)

There were many other women watching from a distance. (Matthew 27: 55, 56) One mentioned is Mary the mother of two other disciples, James and Matthew.

AT THE TOMB: Three women were at the empty tomb. (Mark 16:1 or Luke 24:10)

The women were Mary Magdalene, Mary, mother of James, and Salome. 

THE REPORT: Women mentioned as reporting the empty tomb were  Mary Magdalene, Susanna, Joanna, Mary the mother of James. (Luke 24: 9 – 11)

Consider some of the women. Mary the mother of Jesus, much, but not too much has been written about her.

Mary Magdalene was the first characterized as a prostitute in 591 by Pope Gregory I. There is no hint in the Bible she was a prostitute or the wife of Jesus. She was the first evangelist in that she made the good report of the resurrection.

Joanna, who was a follower of Jesus. (Luke 8:1-3) She was married to Cuza, the manager of Herod’s household (CFO).

Jesus Christ was Immanuel, God with us. He was as much human as though He were not God and as much God as though He were not man. He was the God/man-man/God.

He is depicted as having “emptied Himself.” That is, He never used His divine nature for His own welfare, though He often did for others.

However, without using His divine nature for Himself, He had to learn and develop as a human being.  That means He had to learn languages like anyone else.

Jesus spoke more than one language, one of which was Greek. There are three internal Bible examples where Greek would have been the logical language He used on those special occasions.

In Mark 5, He encountered and had an exchange with the demoniac of Gadara. Alexander the Great and a large contingency of his army populated this area for some time and a large remnant remained to populate the area. The language of that region was Greek. It is logical that Jesus used the language of the people in ministering there.

In Matthew 15 Jesus encountered the Syro-Phoenician woman. Again for the same reason Greek was the popular language of the region and logically their interchange would have been Greek.

The third and most convincing reason for concluding Jesus spoke Greek was His trial before Pontius Pilate. All diplomatic and government business in the court was in Greek.

The following is speculation. If Jesus spoke Greek He had to learn it like any other youth. When and how did He learn it? He would not have learned it in the village of Nazareth. Nearby, less than four miles, was the thriving sophisticated Greek founded city of Sepphoris.  Seeking work and engaging in commerce it is logical Joseph would have visited there often. It would not have been uncommon for the young Jesus to have accompanied him. Sons of tradesmen often followed their fathers as apprentices. 

Today, as in that era, it is not uncommon that when a family of means encounters a less fortunate family with a gifted child they offer to take the child and see that he is educated.  Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward (CFO) who was from the region might have been such a benefactor. It would have been there He learned Greek. In Jesus’ adult life it is noted she was healed by Jesus and later she was one of the women who ministered to and supported Jesus out of her private means.  

This is shared to encourage readers that if Jesus could have used that cast of characters He can use you.