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  • Writer's pictureElaine Kelly

Where Does the Bible say Women are Equal to Men?

Updated: 7 days ago

While many think that the Bible is patriarchal, my studies show that it was the culture at the time the Bible was written that was patriarchal. Jesus and the apostles brought equality and mutual service. The New Testament treats women as equal to men, as children of God, made in the image of God, filled with the Holy Spirit, and gifted for various ministries.

Egalitarian Christians believe that God gives humans gifts regardless of gender or race and that our gender does not determine our role at home, church, or society. The Lord said, "I do not judge as people judge. They look at the outward appearance, but I look at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7). As believers seek to conform to God, both men and women will seek to be more humble, kind, and loving.

Christian egalitarians, also called mutualists, believe all Christians, regardless of gender, should submit to one another and love and serve one another. The very command to love one another excludes domination and giving orders over one another; Jesus asked us to serve one another in love. God is our Lord and authority; not other humans.

We as Christians have a responsibility to study and interpret Scripture. We are asked to work out our beliefs: "work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear" (Philippians 2:12). There remains debate on how to interpret letters in the New Testament which Christians use to guide how we live. When we look at these passages in the context of the over-arching biblical message, it seems inconsistent to interpret these passages as limiting all women to subservient roles. The letters were written to a specific group at a specific time to address issues they were having. The repeated biblical message is that God loves all people, redeems all people, and calls us to use our gifts for the furtherance of God's kingdom.

To understand the central thrust of the biblical message, I look at how Jesus encouraged women in the role of disciples, learning from him and financially supporting his work. In contrast to religious leaders of the day, Jesus taught in public meeting places and invited women to study from him and be his disciples. Large crowds of men, women, and children followed him and learned from him. Jesus healed them and specifically blessed the children and said to let the children come to him (Luke 18 and Matthew 19). When he went to the Temple, Jesus taught in the Court of Women, also known as the "middle court" (John 8:2), even though many religious leaders only taught in the Court of Israel, where only men were permitted. When Jesus was speaking to a crowd that included men and women as students and disciples, he said, “These are my mother and my brothers! Anyone who obeys my Father in heaven is my brother or sister or mother.” (Matthew 12:48-50). A few of his women disciples are named, including Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna. These women followed him as students and disciples and supported him financially out of their private means (Luke 8:1-3). Jesus specifically tells everyone that when Mary of Bethany chose to study as a disciple, she made the right choice (Luke 10:42).

Jesus also equipped and empowered women to be apostles, going out and spreading the word. Jesus authorized the woman at the well to go out as an apostle and spread the word (John 4:4-42). Jesus gave both women and men the great commission to preach the word as apostles (Matthew 28:16-20). Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the other woman disciples, were with the apostles waiting to receive the Holy Spirit's power to be Jesus's witnesses in all the earth (Acts 1:8-14). The Spirit came on both women and men at Pentecost, allowing them to speak in other languages (Acts 2: 4), with both men and women prophesying (Acts 2:17, Joel 2:28-32).

Check below for a list of Bible verses indicating the equality of men and women:

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Genesis 5:1-2

When God created humankind, he made them in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them "humankind." NRSV

Genesis 1:26-27

"Male and female he created them"; we are all made in God's image, women are not made in man's image

Matthew 5:14-16

You (men and women) are the light of the world

Matthew 10:32-33 and Luke 9:26

Everyone who acknowledges me before people, I will also acknowledge before my father. (women must talk about Jesus publicly)

1 Corinthians 6:19

Do you not realize your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? (both women and men are filled with the Holy Spirit, equipped to do God’s work)

Luke 11:27-28

Happy rather are those who hear God's word and put it into practice (woman's value is in more than the children she may bear)

Ephesians 2:10

We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works

Ephesians 2:8

You are saved by grace, through faith (not through men)

1 Peter 2:4-5

All believers in Christ share in his priestly status, offering spiritual and acceptable sacrifices to God through Jesus (without human mediator, special classes, or hierarchy)

Romans 12:6-8 and Hebrews 2:4

We (women and men) have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us (not according to our gender): prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhorting, generosity, leadership, compassion, cheerfulness

1 Peter 3:7

Women and men are equal heirs in God's gift of new life

John 1:12<