Weekly Sermon
Delivered By
Dr. E. G. Sherman, Jr
Delivered On
July 8, 2017 at 10:45 AM
The Historic Involvement of Women in Christianity

The Historic Involvement of Women
in Christianity.

“ And she ( Anna ) coming in that instance gave thanks
likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them
that looked for redemption in Jerusalem” ( Lk. 2:38 )

Although Christianity is one of the World’s Great

Religions, it was not the first to be established. It was

promised by Jesus, although he referred to the movement

as a church. Following his resurrection, Jesus gave the

Great Commission to the eleven – remember that Judas

had committed and his replacement had not be selected.

( Matt. 28:28-30 ). A casual reading of the Commission

might lead to the conclusion that women would have no

role to play in the development of the church. The

sermon for this Annual Mission Anniversary has been

planned to partially broach this issue. It was entitled,

“The Historic Involvement of Women in Christianity”.
P. 2

It will include the following three dimensions, namely:

the emerging church after the Day of Pentecost, selective

women in the early church movement and the roles of

women in implementing the contemporary church.

As noted in the textual anchor, it was a woman,

having seen the babe ( Jesus ) who would later announce

the building of his church, spoke “of him to all them that

looked for redemption in Jerusalem”. Approximately, thirty

three years later, that babe ( Jesus ) would utter, “upon this

rock I will build my church…” and the promise was fulfilled

on the Day of Pentecost.

Against that textual background, attention will

now be focused on the first dimension of the sermon which

is – the emerging church. Although Jesus spoke of his

church before the crucifixion, its advent would not occur
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until the following events had transpired: The Great

Commission was given ( Matt. 28:28-30 ), The Holy Spirit

was promised ( Acts 1:8 ) The Pentecostal Experience had

occurred ( Acts 2:1-12 ) and Peter’ sermon was preached

that led to 3,000 converts were baptized.

It is obvious that the experience of baptism was

not just a new experience for Acts 2: 42 asserts that

(…they continued steadfast in the apostles’ doctrine and

fellowship, and in breaking of the bread, and prayer.”

The new status of being a convert engendered changes

in attitudes and actions of the individuals. The Bible

documents the emergence of fear and wonders done by the

apostles, but the believers clung together; they later sold

their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men,

as every man had need. ( 43-45 ).
P. 4

To even attempt a synopsis of the experiences of the

early church is beyond the scope of this sermon. Hence the

emphasis will be directed to the second parameter of the

sermon which is – the role of women in the early church


A perusal of the New Testament clearly shows that the

early church was masculine controlled; the Books were

written by men, the authorized leaders were men ( bishops,

elders, pastors, and deacons – to reference a few titles.

During that era, however, there were some women involved

in the early church cited herein are two with the husband

and one was non married. In chronological order, there were

Sapphira, the wife of Ananias, who conspired with her

husband to lie about the financial contribution to the early

church; they both fell dead, first the man and later the
p. 5

woman. The next husband and wife team consisted of

Priscilla and Aquila. She assisted her husband in the

early church teaching. Thirdly, there was a business

woman, Lydia – apparently unmarried – who became a

convert, prepared meals for Paul and Silas, and

encouraged them to remain at her house for a while.

While this synopsis is no means exhaustive, it does

illustrate the preponderance of men in control of the early

church during its infancy.

It must be noted that both of these occurrences transpired

before the day of Pentecost, yet they would be an integral

part the forthcoming church. Nonetheless, the fact remains

that the early church was masculine focused, both the

writers and preachers. There were some roles for women

as prophetesses, but not as pastors. This assertion is likely
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to instill doubt, invoke criticism, and breed rejection but

even the definition of Prophetess supports the assertion

that prophetess is non pastoral.

The sermon’s focus will leave this controversial topic

and move to the final consideration which is – some roles of

women in implementing the church’s existence. It was

to women ( Mary Magdalene and the other Mary ) that an

angel instructed them to “go quickly, and tell his disciples

that he is risen from the dead…and they departed quickly

…and did run to bring his disciples word”. ( Matt. 28: 7-8 .)

That episode has several implications, two of which are:

it showed that women were involved in the pre-church

period before the Day of Pentecost and, secondly, their

assignment could be viewed as one of being a missionary –

not pastor because it carried no instruction to teach and

p. 7

baptized converts. As noted earlier, the New Testament

writers were men, their official positions were male

designated and the founding of churches were done

by men. It is of interest that the most prolific of the

apostles, Paul, was against women involvement in

church affairs. He even taught that women should be

seen but not hear in church. Additionally, he obligated

women to ask their husbands about church related

topics. Well ladies without taking a position on the

Pauline theology regarding women just take comfort

in the fact that he never married.

Taking a giant leap across Centuries from the early

biblical era to the 18th Century in America. It was the

leadership of slave women who largely populated the

underground churches, supporters of the underground

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railroad were religious women, and it was white missionary

women who started Sunday Schools in slave settings; they

skillfully taught the Bible as knowledge but also an

opportunity for slave children to learn to read and write.

Quickly moving to the 20th Century, the continuation and

progress of the church has been sustained more by the

efforts of women than men. Additionally, the women are

more regular in attendance, more consistent in financial

support, more likely to perform voluntary services, and

more prone to display emotional responses to the

sermons than are men.

In closing, this sermon has been a brief overview of

the historic involvement of women in Christianity. It

disclosed an historic pattern of discrimination even

in the writing of the Bible. Despite the views of Paul,
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the women have been an often unrecognized source for

the continuance of Christianity. Lastly, words of

appreciation are extended to our General Mission here

at our church. Amen.

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