I am going to present some evidence that shows females as leaders in the Early Church. It was presented to me by a professor of mine. To those who endure through this long post, I thank you. I think this is an important issue. The implications are that women were leaders of the early church so there is no reason why they shouldn't be now.
1) Galations 3:28 "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
2) 1 Corinthians 11:10 "For this reason a woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels."
3) Acts 2:17-18 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy."
---The three passages above are normative and lead to behavior documented in the descriptive texts below:
1. Romans 16:1-2 "I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me." Phoebe as a 'minister' and as patron]
2. Romans 16:6-7 "Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was."
[Junia as an outstanding apostle]
3. Philippians 4:1-3 "1 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends! I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life."
[Euodia and Syntuche as 'co-workers']
4. Acts 18:1-3 "After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them." [[Priscilla and Aquila as 'co-workers' and house-church leaders]
5. Acts 18: 24-26 "Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor[a] and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately."
[Priscilla and Aquila as 'co-workers' and house-church leaders]
6. 1 Corinthians 11:5 "But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved." [Female prophets]
7. Acts 21:9 "He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied." [Female prophets]
8. 1 Corinthians 7:13-16 "And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?" [Christian wife as spiritual leader in a mixed marriage]
9. Colossians 4:15 "Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house."
[Nympha as house-church leader]
---1 Corinthians 14:33-35 and 1 Timothy 2:8-15 are taken to be corrective texts that address specific time-limited pastoral problems; had they been normative instructions, no women leaders would have been mentioned in the writings of the NT.
St. John Chrysostom- "Homilies on Romans 31" on Romans 16:6-7
"Think how great the devotion of this woman Junia must have been , that she should be worthy to be called an apostle!"
Theoderet - "Interpretation of the Letter to the Romans" on Romans 16:7
"These people were companions of Paul in his sufferings and even shared imprisonment with him. Hence he says that they are men and women of note, not among the pupils but among the teachers, and not among the ordinary teachers but among the apostles!"
Origen - "Commentary of the Epistle to the Romans" on Romans 16:1-12
"This passage teaches that there were women ordained in the church's ministry by the apostle's authority."
---I would appreciate your thoughts. What is the church's response? Why aren't women allowed to be leaders in the church? Please use evidence from the first century. I am trying to prepare a counter-argument to my professor who believes that males just want to dominate and Jesus and Paul were working to reform the gender roles and power in society and there is no reason a woman could not be a priest. They were, in the first century, he would say.