Who was the first woman evangelist in the Bible?
Short summary – The first woman preacher in the Bible (King James Version) is widely believed to be Deborah. She was a prophet, judge, and military leader who played a crucial role in Israel’s history, as narrated in Judges 4-5. Deborah is not only celebrated for her wisdom and leadership but also for her courage. She led the Israelites to victory against their Canaanite oppressors, inspiring a song of triumph known as the “Song of Deborah.”
The Bible is balanced in the lines of gender and their spiritual roles.
Though Bible stories highlight the patriarchal system in play in ancient times, women’s roles and significance were not downplayed and ignored.
From the beginning of times in the Garden of Eden, God declared that a man is nothing without a woman.
That was why he created Eve to be a helpmeet for Adam.
As years rolled by, great and powerful women like Deborah, Mary, Priscilla, Dorcas, etc., emerged, playing key spiritual roles and being an integral part of the growth and journey of the Christian faith today.
However, the question of who first took the bold step into this male-populated ministry keeps coming up from people seeking inspiration and motivation.
Here, we will answer your question about the first preacher in the Bible, taking a drive from the Old Testament to the New Testament. Enjoy the ride.
What does it mean to be called a preacher?
After His death and resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples and reminded them of the next thing to do after His ascension into heaven.
This was a form of passing the baton to them and letting them know the task ahead.
Jesus appeared to the eleven disciples and told them, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16, KJV).
This scripture shows that preaching the gospel is one of the core responsibilities of every believer or disciple of Jesus Christ.
To preach the gospel means to share the Good News of salvation with the unsaved.
It means to introduce those in darkness to the marvelous light of God and lead them into the abundant life in Christ Jesus.
As a preacher of the Gospel of Christ, the Holy Bible is your manual, and Jesus Christ is our perfect example.
Hebrews 12:2 says Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. So, every believer must look at Him and what He did when He was here with us.
Apostle Paul says, “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5, KJV).
This scripture confirms that Jesus must be the center of our message as believers.
We must teach people His ways and show them how to become more like Him through daily communion through prayers, Bible studies, and obedience to His Word.
Therefore, a preacher’s first and most critical requirement and qualification is being born again.
You must have first received Christ as your Lord and personal Savior, be baptized by water, and learn His ways.
After tasting the fantastic benefits of the saving grace of Jesus Christ, you must now be a part of the commission to introduce others to this truth.
Must a preacher mount a platform and use a pulpit? Preaching must not always be in a formal church setting.
Jesus’ disciples hardly had the luxury of gathering people in the temple to preach.
They were always on the move, spreading the light of the Gospel everywhere they set their feet. Therefore, you do not need a title to play a role in reaching out.
And most definitely, God does not care about your age and gender.
Instead, He wants those willing to put their hands on the plough and never turn back. In other words, the command to preach to all creatures is to everyone who is a born-again child of God.
Who Was The First Woman Preacher in The Bible (KJV)
Now that we know that God’s plan is for all of His children to preach, let’s see the women who pioneered this ministry fearlessly, without bothering about the prevailing tradition that places women lower than men.
Deborah, the prophetess and judge of Israel (Judges 4-5, KJV)
“And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.” (Judges 4:4)
Deborah’s office was under the palm tree, and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment (Judges 4:5).
To be a prophetess means to be God’s mouthpiece. It means God speaks to you and through you.
Your words are an authority because what you say is not from your mind or heart but expressly from God’s mouth. So, your words carry weight and power.
That was the spiritual authority Deborah had during her days. Deborah’s influence superseded Barak’s, Israel’s military commander then.
Barak so much trusted Deborah and drew strength from her strength and leadership that he confessed he would not go to war, except Deborah went with him (Judges 4:8).
Deborah also occupied the seat of a judge.
A judge was a spiritual leader who presided over matters.
They give counsel based on God’s law. The position of a prophetess and judge requires that people be shown God’s ways.
They served as the shepherd, guiding and leading God’s flock to the right path.
They correct and admonish and ensure they do not fall into error. Therefore, the people relied on them for spiritual inspiration and guidance.
The first female preacher in the New Testament
During Jesus’ earthly ministry, the Bible records He gave authority to His disciples to preach the gospel, heal the sick, and overcome the power of the enemy.
The Bible also states that Jesus went about with His disciples doing good.
When we hear Jesus’ disciples, the twelve disciples of Jesus often come to mind. But the disciples were much more than that.
Jesus’ ministry grew exponentially, and so did the number of His followers. Also, His followers were not limited to the twelve men He appointed. Women were also part of those who followed Him and supported His ministry.
For example, Luke 8:1-3 lists three women who followed Jesus as He preached throughout every city and village. They were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna.
For them to have followed Jesus meant they also learned from Him.
It also suggests that they were meant to be a part of those to carry out the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20.
Having said that, who was the first female preacher in the New Testament? Mary Magdalene.
Mary Magdalene’s life exemplified what it means to be saved and then save others.
Seven demons were cast out of her (Luke 8:2).
She followed Jesus and contributed her resources to the expansion of God’s kingdom.
After Jesus’ death and burial, Mary visited Jesus’ sepulcher weeping, not knowing that Jesus had already been resurrected (John 20:11-18). Jesus appeared and spoke to her.
Jesus told her to go and inform the disciples about His resurrection. “Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord and that he had spoken these things unto her” (John 20:18).
Following that event, Mary was the first person to spread the Good News about the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, one of the core doctrines of the Christian faith.
Should women preach?
Salvation is not for men alone.
The responsibility to save people from sin and death is not upon men’s shoulders alone.
Men and women are co-laborers in God’s kingdom, charged with preaching the Gospel of Christ.
We are all means to study the Word of God and be skilled in it. Saved women must preach to their unsaved husbands.
They must preach to their kids, neighbors, and everyone who cares to listen to the Good News.
There are certain topics women can adequately preach in church or outside the church that men do not know about.
These are different doorways through which different demography can be accessed in church and society.
When Jesus delivered a man possessed by demons, the Pharisees accused Him of using powers from Beelzebub, the prince of the devils.
However, Jesus responded by saying, “And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?” (Matthew 12:25-26)
A kingdom against itself can never stand.
Christian men standing against Christian women from preaching the Gospel is a stumbling block to the propagation of Christ.
God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33).
None of His commands or spiritual gifts are gender-specific. Every spiritual gift is for all believers, male and female, for the edifying of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-16)
What did 1 Timothy 2:11–14 say about women preaching?
Some Christians against women preaching make reference to what the Apostle Paul said in 1 Timothy 2:11–14 about women being silent, not being teachers, and not usurping authority over men because God created Adam before Eve, and Eve was deceived by the serpent, not Eve.
This scripture suggests that women are not to hold positions in the church that would make them preach, especially to men, because men are considered to be the head or leaders.
Before using this scripture as the final authority to stop women from preaching the Gospel, we must first know what Jesus said concerning the subject. Did Jesus consider men superior to women or men better preachers than women?
The scriptures showed that Jesus treated everyone, both men and women, equally.
He ministered to both genders, visited them, and preached the Gospel to them. Jesus did not put any gender against the next.
He did not tell Mary or the other women around Him to be silent because men were around.
Therefore, focus on what Jesus said and did. Women were part of Jesus’ disciples.
Why would He allow that if He was not interested in them being part of His Great Commission? Jesus would have simply told them to stay home, cook for their husbands, and do other house chores.
We must be able to separate tradition and personal opinion as we study the scriptures.
The Apostle Paul spoke from the point of the men being head over women or women not fit to preach from a cultural perspective prevalent at that time.
God would not have appointed Deborah a prophetess if God wanted women to be silent in the church.
Acts 2:17-18 says, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy…And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.”
Peter specifically stated that God’s spirit would fill women, and they would prophesy. God’s Spirit would have been given to men alone if women had not been relevant in God’s agenda for the last days.
Other influential women preachers in the Bible
Eunice and Lois
Lois was Timothy’s grandmother.
Eunice was his mother.
They were responsible for passing their faith to Timothy, who later became Paul’s protege.
Paul, speaking about the incredible spiritual work these two remarkable women did in Timothy’s life, said, “when I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.” (2 Timothy 1:5, KJV)
Growing up with such powerful women made Timothy wise.
Paul encouraged him to continue in the path his grandmother and mother had shown him through the scriptures (2 Timothy 3:14-17)
Priscilla and her husband Aquila were firm believers in the early church.
The Bible records that a certain Jew named Apollos spoke to a congregation this couple was a part of.
Although Apollos was eloquent and bold, he only knew about John the Baptist and his doctrines, not of Jesus Christ (Acts 18:24-28).
Priscilla and Aquila called him privately and expounded the way of God more perfectly to him (Acts 18:26).
This shows that Priscilla was vast in the knowledge of the Lord to the point she could correct a man who preached in error.
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Bulgarea Anca is a devout Christian and the founder of Bible Wings, a comprehensive resource for Christians seeking to deepen their faith and understanding of the Bible. Raised within the Christian faith, Bulgarea Anca’s spirituality was nourished by her grandparents, who were cantors in their local church. Her Christian upbringing was further solidified by her education at a Christian school. Today, she uses her in-depth knowledge of the scripture to provide insightful and meaningful content through Bible Wings.