How Jesus Empowered Women


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When it comes to Jesus and women, he was ahead of his time. He elevated women to a position that was unheard of in the first century and his treatment of women defied every cultural norm. Unfortunately, this is a subject that is not often talked about outside of academic Christian circles, but as women, we need to be well versed in it.

Jesus’ behavior towards women, understood in the context of His time on earth, reveals His extraordinary goodness and unhindered boldness. It is something we should be talking about and highlighting, especially for those women that still feel less than worthy or marginalized. If you are not a Christian and never looked at Jesus in this light, I urge you to take a chance and explore with me this first-century radical who turned a male-dominated world upside down.

Role of Women in First Century Israel

To really appreciate how Jesus empowered women, we need to look at the life of an average woman in Israel 2000 years ago. We know from historical writings that some classes of women had certain reproductive and property rights. However, only a small percentage of women were able to use those rights for their own benefit such as obtaining wealth or autonomy (There are a few biblical examples). In other words, these women were the exception and not the rule. 

The average woman had little in the way of rights or freedoms. In reality, Jesus was born into a world where most women were relegated to a position only a little better than slaves. So how was it possible then, having certain legal rights that most women in that culture still had it so bad?

The Connection Between Religious Participation and Economic Well Being for Women

Today, things like our legal rights and professional development define our status as a person in our culture and society. Our society considers spirituality a private matter that has little to no effect on our social and economic status. The opposite was true in first-century Israel.

Their society defined a person’s status by their spiritual and religious participation and that was closely linked to economic well-being. Based on the rabbinic writings of that time period, women for the most part were intentionally excluded from taking part in public spiritual and religious gatherings. To say it plainly, women were not formally taught the scriptures nor other rabbinic teachings (It is important to note here that Rabbinic tradition does not equate to Biblical truth). They could not be disciples of a rabbi and they certainly would not have been allowed to travel with one.

To be excluded from the spiritual center of the culture meant that they were relegated to their homes and their economic well-being was tied to their husbands or fathers. If the husband or father failed to provide, then these women would be left destitute with little recourse.

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