Spiritual Growth and Encouragement for Christian Women

11 Biblical Women We Can Learn From

  • Donna Jones Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2018 30 Apr
11 Biblical Women We Can Learn From

When I was a child, my mother used to call life experiences, “learning lessons”. Mom had a way of turning every situation—good or bad, major or minor—into a teachable moment. 

Every once in awhile, a life lesson came not from my own personal experience, but from someone else’s experience. In my estimation, these were the best kind of learning lessons; they had all the benefits of wisdom, with none of the downsides of pain. Exploring the lives of people in the Bible is this type of learning lesson—the best type.

Here’s a list of biblical women—some familiar, some not—which can provide invaluable learning lessons, and positively shape the way we live our lives.

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1. Eve

1. Eve

For obvious reasons, we’ll start with Eve. Eve fell prey to the lies of the devil because she failed to stand on the truth of God’s words. But here’s the real kicker: she didn’t set out to sin. What happened to Eve can easily happen to me, or you. Few of us wake up thinking, “Today, I’ll be putty in the hands of the devil.” I’m sure Eve didn’t, either. So how did it happen? 

First, the serpent created confusion, (“Did God really say…?”). Then he created doubt (“You certainly won’t die!”). Finally, he created suspicion (“God knows when you eat it you’ll be like him.”). Eve could have chosen to ignore the serpent’s lies. She could have walked away. She could have combated the lies with truth. Instead, Eve listened. And kept listening. With Eve’s truth meter weakened, Satan pulled the final punch: he placed the fruit right before her eyes. Suddenly, what Eve could see (the fruit) trumped what she couldn’t see (God’s goodness and God’s purpose). Once she was deceived, it was only a matter of time before she was defeated.

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2. Joanna

2. Joanna

This little known woman from the Bible had a powerful impact on Jesus’ ministry and the proclamation of the gospel. Joanna’s husband, Chuza, was Herod’s household manager. Any way you slice it, working for Herod was no picnic in the park. Herod ordered the beheading of John the Baptist, participated in the trial of Jesus the night before his crucifixion, threw Peter into jail, and violently persecuted Christians.

But the fact that her husband’s boss hated Christ and Christians didn’t thwart Joanna or her mission. She used a portion of their income to provide for the needs of Jesus and his disciples as they traveled from city to city. Joanna was present at the empty tomb, and Joanna was one of several women who ran to tell the disciples Jesus had risen. No wonder people still name their daughters Joanna.

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3. Lois

3. Lois

You’ve probably never heard of Lois without hearing her paired with her daughter, Eunice, or grandson, Timothy. But Lois is a force in her own right. The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you.” (2 Timothy 1:5)

Timothy’s faith really began with Lois’ faith. Lois remained a primary influence in the spiritual development of her grandson—otherwise only Timothy’s mother would have been mentioned. Likely, her husband and son were either non-believers (we’re told in Acts 16:1 Timothy’s mom was Jewish and his dad was Greek), or deceased, since there is no mention of male spiritual role models. Lois reminds us that one woman, fully committed to Christ, can influence her children and grandchildren’s eternal destiny. Never underestimate the power of a godly grandmother.

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4. Euodia and Syntyche

4. Euodia and Syntyche

These two Christian women started out as friends and co-workers for Christ, but some disagreement—we aren’t told what—turned the relationship sour. Their little spat made its way into the pages of the Bible

And you know what? I’m glad it did. 

Their story reminds us how easily unresolved conflict between friends can create an unhealthy context for everyone else. Because they didn’t work out their issue privately, Paul told them (begged them, actually) to do so, publicly. Were they embarrassed? Probably. But I’m betting they got their act together as a result. 

The real key though, is how Paul told them to work their disagreement: focus on what you do agree on, rather than what you don’t. Realize you’re on the same team. If you can’t work it out alone, get help.  

“I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel…” (Philippians 4:2-3)

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5. Hagar

5. Hagar

I love Hagar’s story, mainly because she’s not a superstar Bible character—she’s a servant. A nobody. Hagar’s story tells us how God deals with nobody's. 

Here’s the backdrop: Hagar was Sarai’s handmaid. When Sarai couldn’t get pregnant naturally, she gave Hagar to her husband, Abram, to produce a family heir. Why Sarai couldn’t see how that little plan could go south in about a million directions, I’ll never know, but the end result (surprise, surprise) was jealousy and conflict between the two women. The conflict became so intense, Hagar ran away.

But the story doesn’t end there. God finds Hagar, and whispers the most interesting question: “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” Obviously, God knew the answer. But Hagar didn’t. She hadn’t thought things through that far. 

But God knew every bit of her story; saw every moment of her life. God tenderly instructs her to go back. And guess what? She does. Not because her circumstances would change (they wouldn’t), but because she came to realize something every single one of us can take comfort in, too: God. Sees. Me. 

“So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, ‘You are a God of seeing,’ for she said, ‘Truly, here I have seen him who looks after me’.” (Genesis 16:13)

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6. The Shulammite Woman

6. The Shulammite Woman

My oldest daughter got married recently. Shortly before their wedding I caught a glimpse of her waiting in our entryway as her soon-to-be-husband made his way to the door. He’d barely reached the front step when she flung the door open, looked adoringly into his eyes, and stood tiptoe, so her 5’2” inch frame could hug his 6’4” one. As I stood in the shadows, I wondered if I still make my man feel the way she made hers feel. 

Because honestly, why shouldn’t all of us—no matter how young or old—experience a little bit of heaven like this? 

The Shulammite Woman teaches us the same lesson. Her courtship and marriage to King Solomon is recorded in Song of Solomon. Here’s a peek into how she treated him:

She was excited to see him: “The voice of my beloved! Look! Here he comes…” (Song of Solomon 2:8). She was thrilled that he was hers: “My beloved is mine, and I am his” (2:16). She found him desirable, and let him know it. “His mouth is most sweet, and he is altogether desirable. This is my beloved and this is my friend.” (5:16)

Who says the romance has to end? The Shulamite woman reminds us it doesn’t, and shouldn’t.

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7. Anna

7. Anna

When we meet Anna she’s an old woman, 84 years old, to be exact. In her younger days, Anna was married, but just seven years into her marriage, Anna’s husband died. We see no hint of bitterness or despair in Anna’s life. Instead, the Lord became her true companion. She spent hours at the Temple worshipping God with prayer and fasting.  

One day, while at the Temple, Anna noticed a young couple who had come to dedicate their infant child. As it turns out, the couple was Mary and Joseph; the infant was Jesus. Anna immediately recognized Jesus as the Messiah. But Anna didn’t keep the knowledge of Jesus to herself. What this 84-year-old woman did next is the real inspiration:

“… she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:38)

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8. Michal

8. Michal

Michal was King Saul’s daughter and King David’s wife. One day, Michal looked down from her window and saw her husband dancing and singing before the Lord as he led a procession of people bringing the Ark of God to Jerusalem. Many women might have been filled with joy to see their husbands fully engaged in worship. Not Michal. “She was filled with contempt for him” (2 Samuel 6:16).  

Of course, David had no idea Michal had seen him, or how Michal felt. After the Ark was safely in place, King David pronounced a blessing over the people. Then David returned home to bless his own family. 

But the blessing never came. 

“When David returned home to bless his own family, Michal, the daughter of Saul, came out to meet him. She said in disgust, ‘How distinguished the king of Israel looked today, shamelessly exposing himself to the servant girls like any vulgar person might do!’” (2 Samuel 6:20)

Michal could be the poster child for “What will people think?” mentality. And because of her pride, Michal missed her blessing.

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9. Priscilla

9. Priscilla

Priscilla shows us the beauty of partnership in marriage. Priscilla and her husband, Aquila, are never mentioned separately—their names are always linked together. Priscilla and Aquila were Italian Jews who were forced to leave Italy and relocate to Corinth. The move turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to them.

Tentmakers by trade, Priscilla and Aquila set up shop in Corinth where Paul, who was also a tentmaker, met the couple. Because of their common trade and common faith, Paul, Priscilla, and Aquila became close friends. Paul worked with them, and stayed with them for 18 months, while he taught at the Synagogue. Priscilla and Aquila traveled with Paul to Ephesus. They helped Apollos (who later became a great teacher and evangelist) fully understand the way of God. They opened their home to become a New Testament house church, and they influenced many Gentile churches, as well. Priscilla and Aquila embody two equal partners in marriage, in ministry, and in mission.

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10. Miriam

10. Miriam

Miriam was Moses’ older sister. She’s the little girl who watched from a distance after her mother placed Moses in a basket in the reeds of the Nile, in hopes of saving his life. When the basket—and the baby in the basket—was intercepted by Pharaoh’s daughter, Miriam volunteered to find a Hebrew woman (their mother) to nurse the infant. So Miriam, Aaron, and Moses lived with their parents until Moses was weaned and given back to Pharaoh’s daughter. 

Year passed. Moses, Aaron, and Miriam grew up—Moses in the palace of the king, Miriam and Aaron in the home of Hebrew slaves. But when Moses led his people out of Egypt, Miriam and Aaron stood with him. When the Israelites passed through the Red Sea on dry land, Miriam led the women in a song of praise. She was a prophet. A leader. A worshiper. 

But she was also a sister, who all-too-freely criticized her brother—the people’s leader.

God didn’t take her critical attitude lightly. God never takes anything that stirs up dissension among his people lightly. Miriam paid a high price for her critical attitude. It was an attitude she came to regret.

“Aaron and Miriam!” he called, and they stepped forward. And the Lord said to them, “Now listen to what I say: “… why were you not afraid to criticize my servant Moses?” (Numbers 12:5-8)

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11. Peter's Mother-in-Law

11. Peter's Mother-in-Law

Interestingly, the Bible never mentions Peter’s wife, but it does tell us a bit about Peter’s mother-in-law. She lay sick in bed with a high fever. But when Jesus saw her, he touched her hand and she was healed. She immediately began serving him.

Though we don’t know her name, her simple, two-verse reference reveals a profound lesson for all of us: We are healed so we can help. We are saved so we can serve. 

“When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.” (Matthew 8:14-15)

A pastor’s wife and national speaker, Donna Jones travels from coast to coast, guiding women to the wisdom they need, for the life they want. She’s the author of Seek: A Woman’s Guide to MeetingGod, Raising Kids with Good Mannersand Taming Your Family Zoo, and has been a guest on numerous radio and television shows including Focus on the Family, At Home, Live! and Good Day Dallas. Raised in the south, she’s now a southern California girl who loves a good biscuit as much as she loves a good beach day. Donna and her husband planted Crossline Church in in Laguna Hills, CA, in 2005.  She is mom to their three young adult kids, who frequently sit on her kitchen counter, just to chat. Connect with Donna at www.donnajones.org or on Instagram @donnaajones.

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