Women were the first Evangelists

Joy of Magdalene nat-cathedral-mosaic

Rowan and Irene LeCompte, Mary Magdalene in the garden with Jesus


The word Evangelist is a Greek word meaning bearer of good news. Who were the first bearers of the good news of the resurrection? Women!

In fact the gospels are specifically written to turn the power structures of the time on their heads:

  • Jesus is born to a virgin teenage woman.
  • Jesus is born into a blue collar family, Joseph is a carpenter, not royalty.
  • The angels announce the birth to the lowest rung of society: shepherds. Shepherds were not allowed to give testimony in court because everyone knew they lied. But God chooses these liars to be the first ones to witness the birth of the Messiah.
  • Jesus chooses twelve disciples, three of whom are lowly fishermen (Peter, James and John). Matthew is a tax-gatherer for the oppressor government. One (Simon the Zealot) belongs to the political party that assassinates members of the oppressor government.
  • Jesus treats women as equals: Women gave money to his cause. He sat and talked to women as equals. Jesus emphasized that women were not objects to be lusted after, or discarded by their husbands.
  • Most of the apostles seemed to have run away when Jesus was crucified, but the women stayed near the cross. The women came to wash and prepare the body for burial and they are the first chosen by God to witness the empty tomb, Mary the first witness to his resurrected body.

The gospel of Jesus turns the hierarchy of his day on its ear.

What does that say to us today? What power structures should be turning on their ears? What people at the bottom of the social ladder should we be elevating?


About Mark

I was raised in the conservative non-institutional churches of Christ and attended Florida College in Tampa, Florida. I served as a minister for 8 years in the non-institutional churches of Christ, and 4 years at a mainline church of Christ in Vermont.
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2 Responses to Women were the first Evangelists

  1. Jenny says:

    It is worthy of note that the Samaritan woman at the well was often called the “first evangelist” and Mary Magdalena was often called “the apostle to the apostles.”

  2. garycummings says:

    A close reading of the Gospel text reveals Jesus having redemptive encounters with women s throughout his life and resurrection. Jesus reveals a very motherly view of God. Jesus challenged, trusted, valued, empowered women. He commented on their great faith, cast out demons from women, ate their meals, and told them to share his presence with others. The bottom line is this: Jesus was egalitarian towards women. In the eyes of Jesus, women and men were equal. One of the early Christian movements was that of Montanism or the New Prophecy. Of course history is written by the victors, so it is hard to judge if Montanism was aberrant or not. One of the main charges against them is that they had some women leaders and prophets. Then there were the Quakers from 1648 onward. They always had a good supply of evangelists. I really do not think God has a grudge against women. It is time for the church to fully embrace the full ministry of women.

    Sent from my Alcatel Onetouch A571VL

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