The apostle Paul has been hated for 2000 years by many men and women, with endless papers, books and talks about how awful he was and how he got things so wrong.
But that’s not the whole story. There are also many of us—including many women—who love him. There are countless reasons why I love Paul but these are five that focus on women, and I wrote this originally for a conference of the Priscilla and Aquila Centre, which encourages the ministries of women in partnership with men. This is kind of a love letter about Paul!
1. Paul preached and wrote about the gospel of grace
Paul shows through his writing that the most important thing about a woman’s identity is not her physical appearance, marital status, children, education, career, health, wealth or age. The most important thing about a women’s identity is whether she is in Christ, or out of Christ. This is what impacts eternity. Women (and men) therefore need to be saved, and so the gospel needs to be preached (Acts 20:20-24; Eph 1:1-3:13). Paul preached and wrote about the gospel of grace; Paul wanted what was best for women.
2. Paul was a Christlike leader
Paul loved the church and he loved the lost. He was self-sacrificial. He endured suffering. He did all he could so that women and men could hear the saving gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 11:1; 2 Cor 11:16-33; Phil 1:7-26; 3:1-21; 1 Thess 2).
Paul was Christlike to women, and so women can imitate Paul.
3. Paul trusted God
Paul’s letters are full of prayers and references to his prayer life, which show that his trust was foremost in God, not in any man or woman (Phil 1:3-11; Eph 1:3-23).
Paul was not concerned to be popular. He was concerned to glorify God. He didn’t fear human opinion; he entrusted himself to God. Paul’s trust in God made him trustworthy. Paul trusted God, so Paul was someone women could trust.
4. Paul was a great team player
Paul recognised God’s good plan to give gifts to men and women so that they can minister together to build Christ’s Church and reach the lost with the saving gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. He made it clear that Christian women have been gifted, and are co-workers in the gospel (Rom 12:3-8; 16; 1 Cor 12-14). Paul rejoiced in the gifts of his female co-workers, so that the church would be built up, and many would hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.
5. Paul showed what it means to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ
Paul’s letters explain clearly what it means for us to live with Jesus as our Saviour and Lord (1 Cor; Eph 4-6; 1 Tim). Since they are fundamentally about God and not us, these truths don’t change—no matter who we are or what our culture is saying. More than anyone else, Paul helps me (and all of us) to understand what it means to be a Christian woman in 2020. Paul is an Apostle whom women can still trust to teach us how to live as Christians today, and every day, until our Lord Jesus returns in glory.
This was originally given as a talk at the 2020 Conference of the Priscilla and Aquila Centre.