Were the Apostles Sexist?

Some suggest that the apostles (especially Paul) are sexist, but I have doubts about that. If one were to look up famous women in Rome, one would find that most if not all of the women recorded were daughters or wives of government officials. Not much room for common women to have any value in Roman history. If a common woman were to have done anything significant in history from that era and culture, they would not have recognized it. Remember Jesus’ tomb was discovered by the women, so if the apostles wanted to lie about the resurrection why did they admit that women were the first witnesses? In first-century Judah, a woman’s word was invalid in court, so eyewitness accounts by women didn’t actually count because that is how sexist the culture was. Considering the culture, it would make more sense to lie and say the men found the tomb empty since a woman’s words are considered gossip and unreliable by the men of society. It did the apostles a disservice to even mentioned that women were involved, this point brings us to Paul.

Paul mentions the many women involved with his ministry on multiple occasions. Examples are the deaconess Pheobe (Romans 16:1-2), Junia (Romans 16:7), and Priscilla (Acts 18:26 & Romans 16:3-5). Pheobe is called a deaconess and in Romans 16:2, Paul asks them to help her with anything she needs, which means she was in charge of certain affairs. Priscilla and her husband Aquila both ministered to Apollos in Acts 18 and are both mentioned again in Romans 16. Paul does not have to mention Priscilla at all, yet he always mentions her along with her husband, he never does this for any other couple in his letters that I could find. So he clearly values women. Jesus had many women who were patrons of his ministry, and Luke 8:1-3 mentions some key women like Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna.

In an era and culture where women were considered unreliable for their testimony, to the point it would have been embarrassing to admit believing them about an important supernatural event like the resurrection of Christ, all of the apostles, including Paul, valued them enough to mention their role in the early church movement. That is anything but sexist, that takes boldness, humility, and respect for women.


10 famous women in Rome

8 famous women in Rome

Women in the Roman legal system

Women in ancient Rome in general