Today, another Scenic Overlook on how gender works in the Bible. Can you Bible readers guess who the characters are by the end?
He had never felt so energized. At last, a way of understanding so many of those Bible verses he had memorized as a kid. It had happened a year ago. That moment when he felt like he had gotten it. He felt then like he had grasped the keys to the universe. It had all started with some innocent conversations with the travelers who had come to the big city from Jerusalem. Their talk about a Christ had seemed strange at the time. Then, slowly, it had begun to make sense. At one point after one of those discussions, while he was walking from the Jewish quarter, the Spirit of Jesus had entered him. He remembered the exact moment, halfway between the library and the amphitheater, while he was looking up at the great lighthouse of Pharos. He knew because, for the first time in his life, it really did all make sense. Christ was the greater light, the most wondrous of any of the Seven Wonders of the World. And his brothers, the Jews, were going to know about it.
Now, here he was in the Ephesus synagogue, down the street from the towering temple of Artemis, one of the other seven wonders, but its unassailable pillars were also not comparable to Christ. This place had a reputation for down-to-earth debate. He had come on business, but he couldn’t keep himself from entering the synagogue and talking about Jesus. Many had been convinced but some had resisted. Why all this baptism they see among the followers of this Christ? “For repentance,” he had replied, but his answer only made him realize that he didn’t understand this part himself.
Then he saw her, standing there next to a man obviously her husband, watching him. After the debate, they approached him. “You don’t understand baptism very well,” she had said. How did she know? But it was true.
“We’re followers of Jesus the Christ,” she said, “and we can help you.” “
Yes,” he said to her, “I could use your help.”
So help she did. The three of them, this woman, her husband, and he, spent the next day on the shore not far from their home, looking out over the sea, reviewing signs of the covenant, and Jesus’ words about the meaning of baptism. The newcomer’s eyes burned brightly as the three of them, walking down the harbor road from the amphitheater, debated and finally agreed.
Of course, he thought. Jesus would have had to introduce a new sign of initiation, to go along with the new covenant He forged with His blood. More pieces had fallen into place. The man raised his arms to the sunset on the beach and praised the great God of signs. But then, the next morning, along with the joy and the sunrise, doubt arose about his actions. He obviously was inferior to these two, especially the woman, in their understanding of things. Maybe she should be preaching, not he.
He voiced his doubts to her. If there were things he was wrong about, he asked, should he really be the one to bring the message of Christ to the synagogues? “What should I do now?” he asked her. “Get out there and do what you were called to do.” She said smiling. “Go and preach the gospel of Christ. You are the man for the hour.” And so he did. And again, no one seemed able to refute him. But how could they? The Scriptures were so clear on the Christ.
The time came for him to leave Ephesus. They walked him to the boat. Her husband, kindly, went to arrange for the passage. He watched him warmly, his new stalwart friend, Aquila, saunter off down the dock. Then he turned to her.
“You have been just wonderful.” Apollos sighed. “I wonder if I could be doing this without you.”
“Of course you could.” Priscilla laughed. “Just not as well.”
You may have guessed that this is a retelling of the story of Apollos and Priscilla and Aquila, in Acts 18. It gives beautiful expression to how gender leads us to, at times, limit ourselves for one another. Priscilla did not go out to preach herself, though perhaps she could have, but instead with her husband helped her brother Apollos to do so. Our next post will look at the Priscilla passage more closely.
Do you ever hear the call to limit yourself in relationship for the other gender?
Does it echo Boaz’s command to Ruth, “stand fast here by my maidens.”?
Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I am not sure of what you are getting at with a parallel to Boaz and Ruth. I would say that Boaz was genderly securing Ruth with that comment.
The OT parallel I see to Priscilla with Aquila is Deborah with Barak, when she called him to say, “get out there and lead in the fight!”
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