Women of the Bible 12: Who are we?

We’re only mentioned once in the Bible, but what it says about us is important: we “labor in the Lord.” Currently, we serve in the church in Rome.

Some think we’re twins. We are surely sisters. Since the Bible doesn’t reveal our identity and we don’t appear in other sources, history will only surmise. Our names indicate we were brought up “delicately,” which might indicate nobility. Some even think we’re in Ceasar’s household.

Whoever we are, we’re famous throughout the centuries for one thing: being active in our local church. Laboring—working hard—for the Lord.

And, this positive testimony is the legacy we would desire.

A few years after we’re mentioned in the Epistle of Paul to the Romans, he would write: That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:10-14).

We are thankful for God’s redemption in our lives—two gentile sisters, able to serve God thanks to His power in us.

Who are we?

Where in Romans are we mentioned?

Image thanks to: www.LumoProject.com.

Women of the Bible 11: Who am I?

As a child, I was trafficked into slavery and purchased by a rich family. Away from parents, home, and country, I became a lady’s maid. At first, I cried and cried. I wanted my mommy and daddy.

After a few years, I could hardly remember what they looked like. I feel bad that I cannot even remember their faces. I am still a little girl and not yet a woman.

My mistress makes sure I do my work, but she also speaks kindly to me. I am thankful. I have heard stories.

When my master becomes ill, I am sad. Will I lose another father? Will my mistress always be depressed? Will I be sold?

I find it hard to sleep these nights.

This morning, I told my mistress, “Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! For he would recover him of his leprosy.”

Word of my suggestion reaches the ears of the king, who writes a letter and sends ten talents of silver, six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of clothing to the king of Israel, along with my master and his servants.

When the king of Israel reads the letter, he is so disturbed that he tears his clothes and says, “Am I God?” He knows he cannot heal my master. The prophet of Israel hears about the king’s actions and sends a messenger to my master. He tells him what to do in order to be healed. But, my master is a proud and powerful man, and he is insulted. He thinks the prophet should have come in person and done some kind of a show while healing him.

My master scoffs.

His servants convince him to obey the prophet’s directions, and he finally does.

He looks down at his skin and notices it looks brand new. He is completely healed.

I am glad for him. My mistress is happy again. Both my master and mistress are beginning to believe in the power of my God.

I praise my God for answering my prayers.

Who am I?

Who is my master?

In which nation do I live?

For bragging rights, who was the king of that nation, the one who wrote the letter to the king of Israel?

Women of the Bible 10: Who am I?

I am a sceptic and always have been. If I can’t prove it, I don’t believe it.

So, I hear about a king, north of here. (I live in Yemen.) They say he is the greatest on earth. He has the most powerful army, the best-dressed courtiers, and is the richest, wisest…. They say he’s the greatest ever.

How can anyone be all that?

The reports keep coming. His throne room is like no other. His houses … they drink from gold vessels….

In order to disprove the rumors and satisfy my curiosity, I prepare to go and meet this great so-and-so. It’s an official visit, since I am queen.

I take spices, gold, and precious stones. After all, what do you give to someone who has everything?

As I’ve heard he is wise, I take with me a list of hard questions, to test him. What does this king know and believe?

After many long hot days, we arrive with our caravan of camels and find him welcoming and amicable. I feel that I can talk with him about anything. I’m almost embarrassed, as I realize I have told him all that is in my heart.

I ask my questions—my long list—and he answers every single one. To my satisfaction. With wisdom. I’m in awe.

His house, the gourmet food, the manner of the servants and their attendance to details, his ministers, the sparkling robes on everyone, his cupbearers, and the reverence with which he procedes to the house of his God leave me speechless—a rarity for me.

When I find my tongue, I say to him: It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard. Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom. Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice.

I give the king 120 talents of gold, many pounds of spices, including frankincense from my country, and precious stones. In fact, I heard he had never received so many spices ever before as he did from me.

What the king do, then? He asked me what I wanted. I could choose anything. Believe me, I took advantage of his generosity. I chose silk, gold-studded robes for me and my household, some golden chalices, and a large box of silver. He wasn’t satisfied. He gave me more as a present. I am overwhelmed.

When my servants and I turn towards home, I am a different person. I have put my faith in the God of Israel. I am a believer in two senses: I now believe what I was told—and they hadn’t described even the half of what I saw with my own eyes. And, more importantly, I found the most powerful, awesome God.

Who am I?

Who is the great king?

For extra credit, how far did I travel from Sana’a, Yemen to the king’s palace in Jerusalem?

Women of the Bible 9: Who am I?

I became a believer just beyond the city walls. There were regular services with Jewish God-fearing people, meeting beside the river on the Sabbath day. Women sat on one side, and men on the other. On this particular Sabbath, a teacher approached our women’s group, sat down, and clearly shared the good news of Jesus with us. I don’t exactly know how to explain it, but God opened my understanding. I felt so dirty and unworthy because of my sins. The way the teacher explained what Jesus did for me, I could only cry out to Him for my soul’s salvation.

My heart was unburdened in that moment. Joy and peace filled me, and I began to praise God. It wasn’t long before my whole household believed in Jesus as Messiah. I was baptized, and so were they.

I am fortunate to be a woman of means. Knowing Jesus makes me want to serve Him. One way I do this is by opening my spacious home to God’s servants. I began showing hospitality to the teacher who led me to Christ, along with those traveling with him.

When I opened my home and my heart, believe me, I received more from my visitors than I could ever have given. The talk around my table—teaching, laughter, sharing blessings and experiences—I learned so much from my new brothers and sisters in Jesus.

Not long after my decision to follow Christ, two of the teachers were jailed in my city. They were flogged and locked in a cell, their feet clamped in irons. They actually sang and praised God after experiencing that. Instead of bitterness, they demonstrated their joy in Jesus. That’s not all. These two men used the opportunity to preach to the other prisoners. Hurting and bleeding and not able to move, they cared for other peoples’ souls.

God honored their faithfulness and sent an earthquake. I felt it in my home. Water sloshed in the fountain, and a large oil jar tipped over and broke. Thankfully, there wasn’t a lot of oil in that pot, and that was the extent of it. Apparently, the earthquake inside the city was strong enough to free all the prisoners. The prison keeper saw that the gates were open and was about to kill himself, surmising that all had run away.

But the prisoners hadn’t left. They called out to the jailor. He was later saved when he listened to the gospel. When he invited the teacher to come to his home, the prison keeper’s family and household were saved—just as mine had been. The jailor washed the teachers’ stripes and cared for them.

Unfortunately, the governors expelled the teachers from our city. They lodged at my house outside the wall, where one of my servants tended to their physical needs until they were well enough to travel again. All the while, the teachers invited our church members into my home and comforted them. These men were suffering, yet they comforted others.

What a blessing it has been to host these men of faith!

Who am I?

Outside which city do I live?

I’m a working woman. What do I do for a living?

Who were the two teachers that went to jail?

What spiritual lesson can we learn from my story?

And, for added credit, do you think this biblical woman was married, a widow, or single–and why?

Women of the Bible 8: Who are we?

S was shopping with Helena, who also went to her church and was in her clique of friends. “If E wouldn’t be so stubborn, she might be a nice person. Except, did you know … she has a special ‘friendship’ with that butcher man? Her husband hasn’t found out yet, but I thought I’d let you in on it, so you can pray for her.”

S continued on her way, picking up pomegranates to examine them for ripeness, pushing the tips of melons and choosing a large one, collecting rice, wheat kernels, and dried beans in cloth bags, and chatting it up with Helena all the while, lots of gossip in her wake.

Suddenly, she spotted E, the woman she was gossiping about, and ducked behind a fruit stand, finally silent. No way did she want to meet that person.

But E had seen her. She and S went to the same church, but they were archenemies. E couldn’t believe how S acted. Why did she always have to take the other side of every issue? Why did S have to seek the limelight, even publicly putting her down? Oh well, E would do the Christian thing and greet her, even though she’d rather stab her in the back—which she often did with her words.

E embraced and kissed S as if they were friends. It was good no one could see her facial expression. Oh, how she hated pretense—but in order to look good, she’d stoop to anything.

Apparently, word got out that E and S made trouble in their local church. The traveling leader called them out by name in his letter. I beseech E, and beseech S, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. How embarrassing!

Seriously, what right had he to name them?

Who were E and S? These are their real initials.

Who was the traveling leader?

For extra credit, where was the missionary when he wrote the letter naming these women? And, what authority did he have to call out two contentious people in the church?

Can you think of another Bible verse about divisive people in the church? Please share.

Why is it so serious when Christians don’t get along in a local church?

Do you think E and S changed their ways and made peace?

What’s the lesson for us today?