The Bible and the Christian Woman

Jesus and the Woman of Samaria at Jacob’s Well

Jesus and the Woman of Samaria at Jacob’s Well

How Just and Fair is The Bible to The Christian Woman? An Inquiry Epistle to the Churches of Christ around the World and the Comparative Study of the Spiritual, Practical and the holistic interpretation of Paul’s letter to Corinthians(1 Cor 14:34-36) and the doctrine of equality as set out in Galatians 3:26-28.


God is just and the fairness in Him was demonstrated when He sent His only begotten son- Jesus, to the world so that we might not forever be under bondage. Acts 17:31 puts it this way: “because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” The faithful and righteous Job provides at Chapter 34:17: “Shall one who hates justice rule? And will you condemn the righteous mighty One. In Job Chapter 36:6, it is stated that “He does not keep the wicked alive, But gives justice to the afflicted. The Book of Hebrews 6:10 has this to say: “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” The phrase “your work” here could relate to both man and the woman. In Ecclesiastes 3:17, it is said: “God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.” The interpretation here could be that irrespective of our gender or whether or not we are within or outside the Church- righteous or disobedient and here, within the congregation or in the world, the just and righteous God will pass judgment on our deeds on this planet earth. So, how fair and just could the words of a mortal Apostle Paul, be, if it had sought to stifle the voice of the Christian Woman?


There are many academic/religious debates which indeed are not within the scope of this article regarding why Jesus, perhaps, in order not to offend his Jewish tradition or probably, on the basis of the fragility of the metabolism of the woman, decided not have a woman among his Twelve Disciples who formed the nucleus of early Christian work. Truth is, Jesus himself broke what appeared then as “religious inequality or discrimination” when as the John’s account [John 4] puts it, he gave audience to what had been described by Bible scholars as one of the longest evangelical encounter of the Messiah with a woman when even at the distaste of the 12, he spoke to the Samaritan Woman at the Jacob’s well.


We came across this Bible passage from 1 Corinthians (14:34-36)[English Standard Version (ESV)]. It reads: “34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. 36 Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached?” Immediately, Esi asks: “Dad and Mom, does it mean that in the midst of men, women have no place in the teaching and winning of souls for Christ? I learn as Christians, our body is the Church/Temple of God (1 Cor 3:16). So which church are we talking of? The debate shifted to an earlier Scripture in Galatians 3:26-28 (ESV): “26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave[a] nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” What a revelation to the young inquiring Samaritan Woman!

John 4 says the following about Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan Woman: “Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— 2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. 3 So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee. 4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. 7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” In the contemporary parlance, this could be interpreted as direct discrimination- (on racial or gender grounds- and accordingly, unfair and unjust- for Jews it is said do not mingle with Samaritans.

But let us consider what Jesus said and here by juxtaposing it with 1 Timothy 2:8-12 (ESV): “8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; 9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.” The emphasis here is “I do not permit a woman to teach… she is to remain quiet”- this appears inconsistent with the Samaritan Woman’s drive in chronicling the trouble history and tradition of Judea and Samaria to Jesus.

The might well be understood if we consider the following dialogue: “10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” 11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” 13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” 16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” 17 “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” What then, when Apostle Paul admonished Corinthian women to confer with their own husbands?

Like most churches or congregations in our time, the church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 14:34) had its own internal triumphs and squabbles, prompting Apostle Paul with this directive: “34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. But were the early Christian in Corinth under the Mosaic Law or the Grace of God? The Apostle Paul himself once puzzled why some of us insist that Christians are ‘under law’ today. We are not under law but grace and truth which came through Jesus? “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (Jn. 1:17).” This could be inferred from the Samaritan encounter with Jesus when she made this solemn confession [John 4: 19-20] 19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” And Jesus replied, 21 “Woman, “believe me, a time is coming when you will not worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem,” Jesus added.

Jesus broke the curtain of inequality and discrimination when he said: “22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” 25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” 26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” 27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” 28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.”

It might be worthy to note that save Mary Magdalene (Luke 8:2), not forgetting Mary of Bethany and Martha [the sisters of Lazarus (Luke 10:38, 39; John 11:1, 2) described by some Bible Commentators as Jesus’ disciples- for these women usually sat on the feet of Jesus and accompanied Him during His second Galilean tour, the equal treatment given to the Samaritan Woman, most probably revoked the law: “34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says.” Indeed, Brother Malcolm had tutored that this text among others, dealing with the subject under consideration do not mean that women should completely isolated or sidelined in the church and there could many areas that the skills/services of the woman, could be engaged in the expansion of the Kingdom of God but not teaching and preaching that is meant for men.

Photo Reporting- Imagination: Jesus with Mary and Martha

Photo Reporting- Imagination: Jesus with Mary and Martha

Yet, 1 Corinthians 12 New International Version (NIV)- talks about spiritual gifts and the Unity and Diversity in the Body: “21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”

Looking through the bookshelves we got hold of a learning manual- Studying Law, and we find the question- What is justice, defined generally as similar to fairness and as treatment in accordance with desert? It is said that Justice has to do with how human beings treat each other and that generally, if someone is born with a disease, we do not claim they have been treated unjustly. “Justice is individualistic. Collectivism is generally considered unethical. I can’t collect your test grades, average them out and give everyone the same grade because some students deserve higher grades and some students deserve lower grades. Collectivist thinking can be a result of either hasty or sweeping generalizations. Any time we lump a group of people together and try to make judgments about them. The poor, the rich, African Americans, Hispanics, women, men, and so on. There are individual differences within groups. Some people are skilled and some are unskilled. Some may be lazy and some may be hardworking, and so forth.”[1] This means that politically, we cannot always be treated equally.

This has some semblance in the Christian tradition, where it had been observed that “justice” has often been seen as something far removed from Jesus’ life and teaching. Influential theologian Reinhold Niebuhr [2], it is told, famously wrote of Jesus Christ providing our ideals, the “impossible possibility” of loving our neighbors and forgiving seventy time seven. However, when we enter the “real world” of politics and the balancing of egos that the political process necessarily involves, the best we can hope for is a kind of “rough justice.” This kind of justice, Grimsrud[2] notes, finds its sources not in the message of Jesus but in the common sense of power struggles, coercion, and necessary violence and punishment.

Niebuhr’s reflections it is found, often were filled with wisdom, especially when he challenged socio-political absolutisms that fostered holy wars and a loss of awareness of one’s own selfishness and pride. However, by positing a polarity between Jesus’ message and justice, Ted Grimsrud[3] argues forcefully that Niebuhr undermined both our ability to understand justice in more redemptive and restorative terms and our ability to see in Jesus a political approach that indeed did directly speak to the “real world.” “If we read the gospels through the lenses of restorative rather than retributive justice, we see that Jesus’ message in fact has a close connection, not a stance of tension, with justice. Psalm 89:14 (“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.” Amos’ words about justice, it is said, spoke to Israel’s failure to embody Torah’s concerns for the wellbeing of all people in Israel.” What was the compassion of Jesus for the meek and the unrighteous?

He began his ministry with a call to repent (Mark 1:15)- turn from injustice and alienation and turn toward life- stating His Father has special concern for the wellbeing of the vulnerable, the excluded, and oppressed (Luke 4). “As the Holy One in the midst of humanity, Jesus brings a message of compassion and healing, not condemnation and punishment. God as seen in Jesus is “holy” not in the sense of being unable to be in the presence of sin and evil but in the sense of willingly entering directly into the reality of sin and evil with a message of compassion. Matthew 8–9 gives a series of healing stories that illustrates this type of holiness. Jesus heals all sorts of unclean and excluded people—touching their uncleanness with transformative love. In the midst of these healings, the Pharisees challenge Jesus directly on our point. They confront Jesus’ followers. “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He said: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” [2]

Per Grimsrud[2], then he makes a direct link with the message of the prophets-[Hosea 6:6] “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners” (Matthew 9:11-13). As Grimsrud comments, the justice of God (God’s response to wrong-doing) has to do with the logic of mercy, not the logic of retribution that requires violence to balance the moral scales. Indeed in politics, a debate is posed whether it is an injustice if you are an employer and required by law not to discriminate based on race or gender in your recruitment? Some employers, it is argued, think it is discrimination because it is their money and they should have the right to hire whoever they want. But through its connection with justice, equality, like justice itself, has, per Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy [3] different justitianda, i.e., objects the term ‘just’ or ‘equal’ or their opposites can be applied to. These are mainly actions, persons, social institutions, and circumstances (e.g. distributions). Justice is hence primarily related to individual actions and individuals have to take responsibility for their individual actions and for circumstances they could change through such actions or omissions [3].

Yes, the Holy Bible is not a piece of legislation for which an interpretation can be suggested to a judge. So we leave you with Proverbs 24 (NIV): “Do not envy the wicked, do not desire their company;2 for their hearts plot violence, and their lips talk about making trouble” and Ecclesiastes 4:4 (ESV): “Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.” So, I can envy the righteous but not the wicked? Esi is still searching for the truth!
[1] Justice and Equality,
[2] Ted Grimsrud, “Jesus and Justice”,
[3] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “Equality” (2001/2007),

Researched and Compiled By The Samaritan Research Group


Written by

Gina is the Director of Health and Publisher, JusticeGhana Group.

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