Examples of women in ministry from the first century congregations are spread throughout the New Testament, with Romans 16 an excellent example: 16.1. And I am introducing our sister Phoebe to you, since she is also a minister of the congregation in Cenchrea, 2. so that you would welcome her in the Lord as befitting the saints, and you would stand by her in whatever matter she would have need of you: for she has also become a patroness of many, even of me.


Phoebe is a minister, not a servant, with Paul asking the congregation to look after her every need. No one would have sent a servant on a sea voyage to Rome, which had over one million slaves, half the population of the city. Then in a footnote it says that a patroness is a woman set over others – even Paul. Romans 16 in the next verse greets Prisca and Aquila, with Prisca being listed first, ranking her ahead of Aquila. Verse 6 names Miriam as a teacher. Verse 7 names Junia as a prominent apostle. Verse 12 names Tryphena and Typhosa as teachers, and Persida as one who labored much in the Lord. In verse 15 Paul singles out three women for greetings, Julia, then the sister of Nerea, and Olympia. This listing of fourteen men and ten women indicates the importance of women in building the congregations of Rome, the leading city of the first century world.


Paul also wrote: For there is not one Jewish or Greek, not one slave or free, there is not one male or female. For you are all one in Messiah Y’shua. Gal. 3:28. There should be no restrictions on women, keeping them from positions of ministry or leadership in any congregation or organization.