LESSON 94.

THE ANOINTING OF WOMEN WITNESSES.

770.     There is some difference of opinion as regards whether Jesus said those words, “Ye are witnesses of these things,” as recorded in Luke 24:48, on the evening of the resurrection, an interview at which others besides the Apostles are distinctly mentioned as present, or on a subsequent occasion to the Apostles alone. We merely mention the matter to call attention to the fact that it does not materially affect the argument, though someone might attempt to use it for the purpose. The women themselves stood in a better position to understand the Lord’s wishes than anyone else, either then or now, and we know they believed He wished them to tarry and get that power for witnessing, for they tarried for it. Nay, more, they got that power, which is the strongest possible proof that they were doing precisely what Jesus Christ wished them to do,—had required of them.

771.     We have proved that they were able to witness concerning the most important points which would be disputed regarding His resurrection; that they alone had witnessed those many important things concerning His crucifixion; and His mother alone was the repository of certain testimony regarding His being the very Son of God, incarnated in human flesh. In other words, these women were Jesus Christ’s most important witnesses. When He said, “Ye are witnesses of these things,” the God of all truth could but state facts. He did not create or ordain, as witnesses of certain events, those who had not witnessed those events,¾else had He been guilty of a fraud. Rather, those who have imagined that Jesus Christ appointed men only as His witnesses, and have taught others this, have practiced a fraud upon themselves as well as upon others. Jesus said again, as He was about to be taken up into heaven, “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The women believed that the commandment to tarry and receive that power included themselves. One hundred and twenty persons tarried for the power; and among them, the mother of Jesus “with the women” (Acts 1:14-15). 

772.     Had there been a man present among that company of one hundred and twenty who had doubted whether these women were to become qualified witnesses (or to be veiled, subdued and silenced creatures, because Eve sinned), the last remnant of such a delusion must have been swept away, when “there appeared unto them cloven tongues, like as of fire, and sat upon each one [R. V.] of them: And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:3). But a man can be convinced, and recoil again to his position of past bigotry. If such a thing happened to one present at that assembly, he must have been again shaken to the foundation, out of his prepossessions, when he listened to Peter, sweeping all prejudices before him, saying, in the power, and by the authority of the Holy Spirit: “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel: . . . You daughters shall prophesy . . . and on my handmaidens I will pour out, in those days, of My Spirit, and they shall prophesy” (Acts 2:16, 18).

773.     These women were now prepared to do in type what the Holy Spirit through the prophet Isaiah (40:9), has commanded women to do, near the close of the Gospel dispensation in full: “Oh thou woman, that bringest good tidings to Zion, get thee up into the high mountain; Oh thou woman, that bringest good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!”[2] They knew the story of the Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection, with a completeness of detail such as none of the Apostles had. It is not likely, however, that they, being women, could speak in the Jewish synagogues of Palestine. The men disciples must have been the spokesmen here. The women could speak to those who came to their home to hear their story. And after all but the twelve Apostles were driven out of Jerusalem (Acts 8:1), the women would find many opportunities in the Gentile world to give their message. At any rate, we may be sure that the women, even at Jerusalem, before they were driven out, had made their message heard in Christian meetings for both sexes in private homes. They have their witness with power and to good effect, and the first Christian Church was in the home of the mother of Mark, who was presumably a widow, Acts 12:12.

774.     How do we know that women were active witnesses? Listen to Saul, one of the persecutors of the Christians of these days: “I persecuted this way [Christianity] unto the death, binding both men and WOMEN (Acts 22:4). And listen to this testimony against Saul: “As for Saul, he made great havoc of the Church, entering every house and haling men and WOMEN, committed them to prison” (Acts 8:3). Again, “Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and desired letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of the way, whether they were men or WOMEN, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem” (Acts 9:1, 2).

775.     Now we submit: Had these women been veiled and silenced creatures, who would not presume to teach anyone, who would have persecuted them? Men could not, for lack of proof against their teaching, if they had not taught. At a later date in the history of the Church, it was only necessary to raise the cry, “A Christian!” to get one punished. But in these days of ignorance as to what Christians taught, some sort of proof on that score must have been brought forward to secure conviction. The fact that women were prosecuted, in these very early days, proves that women were giving their testimony,¾witnessing as to what they had seen and heard¾and this witness of theirs was heard by men, who reported the same, and conviction was had thereon. It is not enough to say they were giving this witness to women only, and that other women testified against them. The testimony of women was very lightly esteemed in Jewish courts,¾would not have been accepted, in fact. No, Paul, or Paul’s spies, were in meetings attended by both sexes, and heard women give their testimony in “power” to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and because of this testimony which women gave, women were punished. All must agree to this excepting those willing to sin against their reasoning faculties.

776.     The conquests made by the Pentecostal Christians were marvellous. On the first day, 3,000 were converted; a little later, 5,000 more, and so they progressed. Most of the first converts lived about Jerusalem, and many of them must have witnessed, as unbelievers, some of those events, which, at first, the women disciples alone knew. Now they could give their testimony too. Perhaps of this number of new converts were Stephen and Philip. To the testimony of the former, God added “great wonders and miracles” (Acts 6:8), and from the time these began to appear, to attest the genuineness of the first witnesses, the earlier testimony as to particular incidents in the life of Christ would become less important because well known.

777.     The necessity for the testimony of the women, in the region of Jerusalem, soon passed. Their testimony in other cities, like Damascus, to which Paul starts in pursuit of them, was given; then in more distant places. Finally, that persecuting fury of Satan, which is always visited upon women with special malignity, was the occasion of a Divine interposition, and we have the Apostle Paul, under Nero, at a much later date, because of the special attacks upon the virtue of women Christians, and upon the reputation of the churches as to chastity, advising as a matter of prudence, something of a separation of the sexes, and a quieter part for women (see Lessons 40, 41).

Notes 

[2] See par. 209, and our leaflet, “Woman Preachers.”

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