Biblical Principles Taught By Prophetess and other Key Women in the Bible


Here consideration is given to some principles demonstrated in the life of prophetess and some other key women in the bible.

A prophet is a male God set aside to prophesy as God leads him. A prophetess is a female that God set aside to prophesy as God leads her. A prophetess is not a female prophet. The role of a prophetess and prophet markedly differ in scope and authority.

The Bible lists a number of prophetess as well as reference to women who prophesied. 1 Cor 11:4-5 speaks of women prophesying in the assembly and Philip’s daughters (Acts 21:9) who prophesied.

Note that in the Bible Phillips daughters nor the women in 1 Cor 11 are called prophetess. This is similar to the principle that God can use anyone to evangelize but not everyone of such people is called an evangelist. Same goes for preaching. So not everyone God uses to prophesy is called a prophet or prophetess.

Note that the same Greek word (Strong’s G4395) is used in 1 Cor 11:4-5 and Acts 21:9 for the word prophecy. Yet the Greek word for prophetess (Strong’s G4398) is used in Luke 2:37 in calling Anna a prophetess. Hence, the biblical text does not say the women of 1 Cor 11:5 and Acts 21:9 operated in a standing prophetess office but rather that God occasionally used them to prophesy to the people.

Note that all of these women participated in ministry in a non-structured assembly setting except for Miriam in Exodus 15. Yet, Miriam participation was in singing rather than formal preaching.

A Note of Miriam

The prophetess Miriam (Exodus 15:20-21) sang publicly but this is not what we generally mean by formal preaching.

A Note on Deborah

Deborah is one of the well known women in the bible. She was a prophetess and a judge. The reference section below provides a link to my article on her.

A Note on Esther

Esther was a Jewish woman who used leadership to help the Jews avoid slaughter while in exile. As Queen she used her access to the King in her interaction with Mordecai to protect the Jews from natural destruction by Haman. The book of Esther describes her role in the history of the Jews.

A Note on Huldah

Huldah was an Old Testament prophetess in responding to the questions of the King and other men gave a private word from the Lord as recorded in 2 Kings 22:8-20 and 2 Chronicles 34:14-29.

Some say that since the KJV associates the word college (2 King 22:14; 2 Chronicles 34:22) with Huldah then she taught a school of male and female. But note it says she dwelt there. The bible does not say she taught there. Maybe she dwelt there with her husband as she served as a prophetess not a teacher. Note also that the word college does not always mean school as in the example of the electoral college.

A Note on Anna

Anna was a prophetess spoke of Jesus to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem (Luke 2:36-38). She did so in the temple when Jesus parents brought him into the temple to dedicate him to the Lord. Yet, there is not scriptural clarity that she spoke as one having spiritual authority over men in the midst of an assembly consisting of both men and women. The reference section provides a link to my article on her.

A Note on Mary Magdalene

There is no mention of Mary Magdalene preaching/teaching before a congregation. She witnessed and carried the message of truth to others like every believer is to do.

A Note on the Samaritan Woman of John 4

The Samaritan woman had a conversation with Jesus. When she finally realized Jesus was a prophet, she began to speak with him about the prophetic Messiah as if to inquire if Jesus was that Messiah. Jesus realizing what she really wanted to know told her outrightly that he is the Messiah of whom the prophets spoke. She then ran into the city and told the “men” about the man (Jesus) who had told her all about her life. She invited them to come and meet Jesus. The scripture says she “testified” (John 4:39); it does not say she preached. She sowed and Jesus says it was for him and the apostles (preachers) to reap the harvest.

Her act in no way justifies a female regularly “preaching” in the streets or on television or radio or internet or any other media as a “ministry”.

So now we notice that what she did is what every born again believer should do: tell people about Jesus and invite them to come to see (know, accept) him. This is not preaching as a person called and set apart from others to preach publicly on a regular basis to others. It is not as an evangelist like Philip who God set apart to travel to various places to preach.

She reminds that we all are called to evangelize but not all are called an evangelist. To evangelize is to share our testimony about Christ and to invite others to join him. It is about witnessing to the gospel of salvation through Christ Jesus.

A Note on Priscilla

Priscilla is not listed as a prophetess but she participated with her husband Aquila in expounding (preaching, teaching, explaining) the way of God and Jesus Christ more perfectly to the preacher Apollos (Acts 18:24-28); here Aquila and Priscilla does this privately for the scripture says they took Apollos aside. Also, Priscilla did not operate alone but with her husband. Note that her functioning with her husband is no justification for the concept of wife/female as “co-pastor” as here they operated in a private rather than public context and certainly as not one having spiritual authority over men. She is best viewed as witnessing or at most “lay preaching” to Apollos. Indeed with respect to “female co-pastor”, what happens when the husband is elevated to “Bishop”? Does his wife become co-bishop at least by his authority? Does he remain pastor as well as Bishop? Does he become Bishop and his wife becomes “Pastor” elevated from “co-pastor”? Note that in this context the words “co-pastor” and “Pastor” refer to those instances where the female assumes or is assigned headship over males; it does not refer here to the general sense of the word pastor.

A Note on Phoebe

Phoebe: Phoebe represented the church on some business matter as a servant of the church (Romans 16:1-2).  The Greek word translated servant in Rom 16:1 is the same Greek word translated servant in Matthew 23:11 where Jesus talks about all disciples serving each other.

A Note on Rachel

Rachel (Genesis 29:9-10) served as a shepherdess for her father’s sheep for verse 9 says she kept them (KJV) or was a shepherdess (NKJV) as the Hebrew word used here has to do with shepherding; indeed, the Hebrew word (raah, Strong’s H7462) translated here as kept (KJV) and shepherdess (NKJV) is the same Hebrew word variously translated herdsmen, feed, shepherd, and pastor elsewhere in the Old Testament. However, Rachel shepherdship here has to do with physical matters rather than spiritual matters. So this type of shepherding is akin to that which takes place in a business or commercial arena rather than in a spiritual arena. We must always be mindful that words may have both spiritual and non-spiritual meaning depending on the context in which they are being used.

A Note on Jezebel

Indeed, Jezebel assumes the authority of her husband King Ahab (1 Kings 21:8). God rebukes her action strongly and even rebukes her husband strongly for allowing her to assume such authority and take wrong actions using the authority of a King. Both women and males should be careful not to take on the spirit of Jezebel and Ahab.

A Note On Junia (Some Claim is a Female)

I include Junia here because some say that Junia mentioned in Romans 16:7 is a female apostle; but, I will establish that there is no biblical clarity concerning such a claim and therefore such a claim should not be the basis for biblical doctrine.

They claim the Greek Word translated Junia to be of a feminine form. They say that because Paul says that Junia is a fellow prisoner of Christ of note among the apostles then that makes Junia a female apostle.

But firstly, Junia is not necessarily a feminine form says some language scholars.

Secondly, the phrase of note could simply mean the apostles took note of (e.g., noticed, knew well, considered outstanding) Junia’s (whether male or female is insignificant) commitment to Christ in ministry; considering the rest of scripture this is most probable.

A Note on the Male Headship Principle and Role Of Women in Ministry.

Note that none of these prophetess and other women served as the leaders of an assembly. In 1 Cor 11:5 the women were part of the assembly but there is no indication they were leaders in the assembly. Moreover, Paul makes the point that they should function as those not having authority over men in the assembly.

The biblical model is clearly that females are to have a clear supporting role not headship role. They are to focus on teaching other women to be godly women and godly wives and teaching children to grow up to be godly men and women, husbands and wives. They are to apply spiritual principles in judging everyday life matters such as in a courtroom or on the job, etc.


Deborah the Prophetess and Judge

Anna the Prophetess

Esther the Queen

Mary Magdalene and Other Women With Jesus

Of Male Headship and Woman in Ministry

For example of a woman witnessing and in a sense preaching for Christ but not as one in authority see: War Room Movie Clip – Gospel & Grace (Marriage)

Church Organization and Worship

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