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One Fierce Woman

I love Priscilla. She is one of my heroines. You can meet her in Acts 18, where you’ll learn that she was part of the Jewish deportation from Rome. Having been forced from her home in Italy, she and her husband were working as tentmakers in Corinth when Paul first encountered them. They left their home in Corinth to travel with Paul to Ephesus where they established a church in their home (Acts 18:18; 1 Cor. 16:19).

Priscilla once literally “risked her neck” (along with her husband) to save Paul’s life (Rom. 16:3–4). She was bold, courageous, and a diligent student of the Word. She is listed six times in Scripture. Without hesitation, I would say Priscilla was a gifted, strong, and intelligent woman. She was well respected by the apostle Paul. But I want us to observe a few things as we consider this True Woman.

  1. Although knowledgeable of the Scriptures, Priscilla did not publicly challenge or usurp the authority of a visiting preacher named Apollos (Acts 18:24–26) but, with her husband, privately  pulled him aside and “explained the way of God more accurately.”
  2. Priscilla had firsthand biblical training from the apostle Paul, first in Corinth and later during the three years he spent with them in Ephesus (Acts 20:27, 31).
  3. After returning for a period of time to Rome (Rom. 16:3), Priscilla and Aquila returned to Ephesus (2 Tim. 4:19).
  4. Although Priscilla was highly regarded by Paul, his instructions to Timothy would prevent a woman from filling an elder role in the church. Why?

Obviously, Paul counted Priscilla as a faithful friend and follower of Christ. She was a mature believer and able to understand and articulate doctrinal truths. She had even risked her neck for Paul. So why was she denied the privilege of the pastorate or not recognized as an elder in the church? Paul clearly lays out the restrictions in a letter to Timothy, which was probably read aloud to the church (in her home!):

“I want women to adorn themselves … as is proper for women making a claim to godliness. A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet” (1 Tim. 2:9–12).

What??? Why??? What does he mean … remain quiet?!

We’ll pick up tomorrow with that question, but for now, please feel free to offer your thoughts—with a kind and gracious spirit, please.

Originally posted 06.25.09 at www.truewoman.com.