I find it interesting how Luke goes out of his way to do something counter-cultural (for his time and place). He points out the women who became believers in the book of Acts.
Philippians is my favorite book of the Bible with its emphases on the primacy of knowing Jesus, the Gospel, joy, and Christian fellowship. The church was founded in the home of Lydia, the Gentile seller of purple goods (expensive stuff!) – and a woman. Right before Paul and company leave Philippi, they make sure to visit Lydia (Acts 16: 40).
Next stop for Paul: Thessalonica (another town I’ve visited and where my husband once ministered for two years to foreign students, including many Muslims). Paul’s first stop was always to preach in the Synagogue where he:
…explain[ed] and prov[ed] that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. Acts 17: 3-4
Paul and company were eventually chased out of town (typical event for them…), and were sent off by night to Berea (visited there, too!) where:
…they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men. Acts 17: 11b-12
(Notice the women are mentioned before the men in this passage).
Finally, Paul heads to Athens and winds up preaching on the Areopagus (I’ve stood there, too!). Paul tells those assembled that their unknown God can be known – that all men must repent because God will one day judge by a man whom He raised from the dead.
Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” So Paul went out from their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them. Acts 17: 32-34
People who have never read the Bible love to call Paul a chauvinist, but I don’t see him favoring men in these passages. And people like to think that the Bible is full of misogynists, but I don’t see that attitude in these passages.
I see Luke as a writer going out of his way to mention that women received and responded to the Gospel. And I don’t see Paul and his companions avoiding women as they delivered the Gospel. Not at all!!
Dear Lord: Thank you for the fact that in a culture where it wasn’t encouraged, Paul reached out to women with the Gospel and Luke wrote about them. Amen.