Dear brother J. W.
I do trust that it is in a prayerful and dependent attitude that we continue our investigation into the Scriptural ministry of Christian women. Before looking into certain positive activities in their work, let me make a few statements relative to the third reference you made to The Book of Acts.
Acts 16:13: Inasmuch as this passage does not treat of any matter relative to church order, we forbear spending much time upon it. It was Jewish tradition and practice that only when ten men were resident in a locality could that locality have a synagogue. It is evident that there were not sufficient men in Philippi for this. This is the exceptional city in which there was no Jewish opposition against the preaching of the Apostle Paul. Nevertheless, there was an informal meeting place near the city where Jewesses and Gentile women proselytes met on the Sabbath for the appointed Jewish prayer service. Paul’s custom, where ever he went, was to present the gospel to the Jew first; therefore, in this passage, we find him at the Jewish women’s prayer meeting.
As suggested in our last letter, Christian women are seen in early Church history as occupying very important places. Let us notice at least one of these:
A prophet in the New Testament is not necessarily a fore-teller but rather a forth-teller. The Greek root word means “to speak forth.” This gift so important to the infant Church was temporary in nature, and eventually passed away (1 Cor. 13:8). Its function was to communicate the Word of God in the period before the Canon of Scripture was completed. We know how God gave a message directly through the prophet Agabus (Acts 11:28). In the church of God at Corinth there were several prophets, men who were inspired of God to communicate His will in those far away pre-Bible times. The ethical control of such prophets is given in 1 Corinthians 14.
Philip the evangelist had four daughters which possessed the gift of prophecy. They were women of purity and gift. At this point of our investigation we are not occupied with where these four godly women exercised their gift, but simply with the fact that they possessed this spiritual faculty; they could communicate God’s mind to God’s people.
From Papias, a disciple and friend of Polycarp, who in turn was a disciple and friend of the Apostle John, we learn that Philip and his four daughters moved into the Province of Asia where these pious women were highly esteemed by the Church, and where they gave much information regarding events and persons belonging to early Christianity. It may be that Luke gathered information from them.
Am sorry that space does not permit us to go further into our subject this month.
Sincerely in Christ,