March is Women’s History Month. Amid cultural confusion about what it even means to be a woman, there is no better time to explore the truth the Bible teaches about women and share the beautiful history of women of faith.
What the Bible Teaches about Women:
- Women are created in the image of God. Genesis 1: 27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” To be female means that we also bear witness to who our God is. God even chose women for the privilege of birthing new life made in His image. What a profound and beautiful treasure!
- Women are Valued and Talented Members of the Kingdom: Many stories in the Bible affirm the great value and worth of women in the eyes of God, including the story of Rachel and Jacob, Proverbs 31, and Ephesians 5, and even portray women as worthy of sacrificial love. Throughout scripture, we see faith-filled women called by God to fill a variety of roles: mothers, daughters, wives, judges, government officials, teachers, missionaries, medical practitioners, lawyers, corporate leaders, businesswomen, journalists, and more. We’ll look at some examples in a few minutes.
- Genesis 17, Hebrews 11: Story of Sarah
- Exodus 2: Story of Moses’s Mother, Sister Miriam, & Hebrew Midwives
- Judges 4: Story of Deborah & Yael
- Joshua 2: Story of Rahab (Mt. 1, James 2, Heb. 11)
- 1 Samuel 1 & 2: Story of Hannah
- 1 Samuel 25: Story of Abigail
- Book of Esther: Story of Queen Esther
- Book of Ruth: Story of Ruth & Naomi
- Luke 2:36-38: Story of Anna
- Luke 1, John 19: Story of Mary
- Acts 12: 13-15: Story of Rhoda
- Acts 16: 14-15: Story of Lydia
- Romans 16:1 Story of Phoebe
- 2 Timothy 1:5: Story of Eunice & Lois
- Colossians 4:15: Story of Nympha
- Philemon 1: Story of Apphia
- God values our true identity-not our appearance. Proverbs 31 tells us what character traits God values in women-strength, generosity, dignity, honor, gentleness, thoughtfulness, courage, and faith in Him-to name a few. His word tells us how precious-beyond value- our internal character is. Peter 3:3-4 says, “Don’t try to make yourselves beautiful on the outside, with stylish hair or by wearing gold jewelry or fine clothes. Instead, make yourselves beautiful on the inside, in your hearts, with the enduring quality of a gentle, peaceful spirit. This type of beauty is very precious in God’s eyes.” In a world that too often values us for our outward appearance or physical beauty, our God cherishes our hearts, minds, and souls.
- Women are treated with equal dignity as heirs to the Promise of God: Galatians 3:23-29 teaches there is neither male nor female in Christ, but that we are able to pray, be forgiven, healed, delivered, loved, and counseled by the Holy Spirit in the same way as our brothers. The Bible is the first document in history to equally regard men and women (1st Corinthians 11:11-12), while celebrating what makes each special and unique in the eyes of God. Indeed, we are Daughters of INCREDIBLE Promise:
- Women are loved by God (Galatians 2:20, John 3:16)
- Women are not condemned (Romans 8:1)
- Women are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)
- Women are God’s and He is ours—We have a right to be called His Daughters (John 1:12, Genesis 17:7)
- Women are chosen (Ephesians 1:4, Colossians 3:12)
- Women are included (Ephesians 2:19)
- Women are accepted (Romans 15:7)
- Women are not alone (John 16:32)
- Women are free (John8:36, Romans 6:6, Galatians 5:1)
- Women of God are filled with joy (Luke 1:45)
The Extraordinary, Heroic Roles of Faith Filled Women in History
Throughout history, God has called His daughters to amazing purpose:
There was Moses‘s mother, sister Miriam, and the Hebrew midwives who dared to defy the wicked decree of Pharaoh himself—that all Hebrew babies should be murdered in violent acts of infanticide. They continue to deliver live babies to safety, and Mariam even positioned her baby brother Moses to be raised in pharaoh’s house, where he would later have a position to liberate God’s people.
There was Rahab, who was a prostitute that many people saw no value in. She wasn’t an even an Israelite, and yet God used her to save the lives of His people and conquer Jericho, one of the mightiest cities of the ancient world. But her story doesn’t end in the book of Joshua. Matthew 1 tells us that God used her to help bring the Messiah into the world. Later in the New Testament, Rahab is shown as an example of someone completely justified and redeemed by God and declared righteous because she put her faith into action.
There was Deborah, who literally was a judge in ancient Israel who wisely settled disputes and practiced the law, but God also called her to lead an army into battle, where she won decades of peace for her nation. Another woman named Yael played an important role in this victory by assassinating the commander of the enemy forces.
Later in the Old Testament, we find a story of an orphaned young women named Hadassah, who was living amongst her people who had been conquered and drug off to the foreign land of Persia. You might know her as Queen Esther, who risked her own life to save the people of Israel from the genocidal plot of Hamman. God used her to raise the king He would later use to destroy Babylon and return His people to the promised land.
There’s the story of Ruth and Naomi, whose courageous obedience to God allowed them to escape famine and literally carry the messianic line into a place of safety and favor.
There is story after story of women used by God in the Old Testament to act with courageous obedience and daring faith to save His people and shape the history of nations.
In the New Testament, God’s plan for women is no less noble:
Mary is revered to this day for her obedience as a young girl, willing to serve God and raise the Messiah. There was Elizabeth, who mentored and supported Mary and mothered John the Baptist in her old age. It is worth noting that being a mother and being a wife are two of the highest callings that God has for women—and unlike our culture—the Bible holds these positions in great esteem.
God used women in ministry, like the prophetess, Anna, who was among the first to recognize the baby Jesus and prophesy over him in the temple.
There was Lydia of Philippi, the first gentile to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. She was also a talented businesswoman who traded in indigo dye and owned a big house, both of which she used to support Gospel work, causing the church in Philippi to explode with growth throughout the region.
Eunice and Lois were women of mighty faith who raised Timothy to be strong in faith and to continue the work of Paul.
The honor of being commended by name in scripture is reserved to many women, and you can find even more in the Hebrew’s “Hall of Faith.” However, God’s plan to use women mightily for His kingdom does not end with the New Testament.
Throughout history, we see many incredible women of courageous faith. Foxes Book of Martyrs tells the story of Perpetua and others who were thrown into the Colosseum to face lions or other forms of persecution, but none ever waivered in their faith.
There were faithful women who were devout members of the church, who also ruled nations like Queen Isabella, or led armies to historic peace, like Joan of Arc.
There was Susanna Wesley, an English pastor’s wife who raised five children, including John and Charles Wesley. She is considered the mother of the Methodism and a missionary movement that swept the world, shaped America, and thrives to this day.
Many of the wives of the Founding Fathers were also God-fearing women, like Dolley Madison, who grew up Quaker. The Quakers were extremely devoted to the Word and were generally thought to be pacifists who tried to stay out of the affairs of the world, but Dolley and James Madison (today remembered as the Father of the Constitution) knew that God was calling them to engage with the culture for God’s glory. Dolley was one of the greatest First Ladies and was a master of dinner-table politics, seeing foreign disputes and bitter debates settled at her table. She was First Lady during the War of 1812 when the British were invading and burning the capital city, and she refused to leave the White House until many of our national treasures were secured. Widowed twice, Dolley faced many challenges in life, learning that the Lord was her sole source of strength and hope. Despite seasons of loss and hardship, Dolley’s faith also shone through her life-long acts of generosity and service and her dedication to living a simple life with her treasurers stored up in heaven.
In more recent history, there are many other extraordinary women of faith. In England in the early 19th century there lived a woman by the name of Hannah Moore, who was a close friend of William Wilberforce and worked tirelessly with him to end the slave trade. Among other things, she was a talented poet and playwright who used the power of her pen to “make goodness fashionable” and literally brought virtue and honor back into popular culture among the elites of England. She also carried the Gospel to common working folk by starting thousands of Sunday schools all around the nation. Hannah’s Sunday Schools were a bit different than what we think of today. In the early industrial days when child labor was common and children worked six days a week in factories, the one time that they could attend school and get an education to build a better life was on Sundays, so Hannah set up schools across Britain that taught children academic skills, while at the same time teaching them the gospel. Quickly, the character and landscape began to be transformed by the Gospel and Hannah Moore’s faithful work. She championed many other humanitarian causes and before she died, her great task of seeing the slave trade and practice completely abolished in the entire British empire was achieved.
Another amazing woman from this era is the missionary Amy Carmichael. She was also part of the revival movement that swept England during this time, and God called her to go to India, where women were enslaved in temple prostitution and sometimes even killed in ritual worship of the Hindu religion. Amy started orphanages in cities to save children from such horrors, and introduced them to the love of Jesus. A gospel light still shines in that very populous country because of her faithful sacrifice and obedience.
There have also been many faithful women of God in our own country. Harriet Beecher Stowe, a pastor’s daughter and devout Christian, wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin to help people understand the evil of slavery so that it could finally end. Harriet Tubman, born a slave herself, made it to freedom and risked her life to rescue hundreds of other slaves and bring them to freedom. She went on to serve as a spy for the union army during the Civil War, and then went on to live a life as an incredibly generous philanthropist, crediting all her achievements to God. Sojourner Truth, also born a slave in the state of New York, was another woman of incredible faith in God. She sued for the freedom of her family in court and won, then went on to live a life driven by Gospel-centered compassion, devoting herself to charitable work and restoring dignity to all who bear the image of their Creator. A friend of Sojourner Truth’s, Susan B. Anthony, is often remembered as a champion of women’s suffrage, but she did so much more because of her faith in God. Susan B. Anthony was a champion for life and one of the greatest pro-life organizations in our day is named her in her honor. Another peer of these women was Jane Adams, a Christian missionary to inner-city Chicago, who was a pioneer in cross-cultural evangelism. She started settlement homes for immigrants where they could learn to speak English and have human needs met, but where they could also be discipled in the Word of God. Her genuine love for others was a testament of her extraordinary faith and she impacted tens of thousands and the work that she did an inner-city Chicago. Her work became a template for other cities around the world. In fact, the blind Christian hymn writer, Fanny Crosby, who wrote more than 8,000 gospel hymns, spent her spare time volunteering at a homeless mission in New York City that was modeled after the template developed by Jane Addams.
Still more recently, we can be inspired by the faith and forgiveness of the missionary Elizabeth Elliot, who is still alive and ministering today. She and her husband had traveled to Ecuador in order to reach unevangelized people who had never interacted with the outside world, but the natives they were ministering to murdered her husband and the other men. With courageous compassion and dedication, Elizabeth and the other missionary wives stayed and continued to evangelize the tribe that killed their husbands and won them to the Lord. Eventually, Elizabeth returned to America and more than 50 years later, continues to serve as a Bible teacher and Christian author to this day.
There are so many rich stories we could tell of how God is using His daughters to shape “His-story” for His glory—the examples above are truly just a small sample of the amazing deeds of the daughters of the King. He has used women in business, arts, athletics, medicine, education, government, music, and other industries to do extraordinary things. If you look around you, I’m sure that you can see many women in your own life who are just as worthy of being called heroines of the faith.
Truly, God’s good plan for His daughters is beyond what we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20), and the best part is that this incredible “His-story” is still unfolding. We can be a part of that story if we walk in faithful obedience to our Father. Across time, culture, and generations, our stories as women—precious in the eyes of our Father—are being woven together like a beautiful tapestry for His glory.