10 Bible Mothers Who Changed the Church

10 Bible Mothers Who Changed the Church

The fact that a mother’s influence is a powerful force over the destinies of her children is undeniable. While the Bible is filled with snapshots of courageous women, no mother is held up as a specific parenting example. We must read the short, tender stories of Biblical moms to identify their actions and character traits.

Even though Christianity didn’t begin until after Jesus died, Biblical mothers from the Old and New Testaments were all women who changed the church because they were women who transformed history. They laid the foundation for nations to follow God’s commandments and accept Jesus.

These mothers endured real problems, yet influenced their children to follow God.

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  • 1. Jocabed

    1. Jocabed

    Jocabed was mother to Moses, Miriam, and Aaron. By placing baby Moses in a basket in the Nile, Jocabed showed remarkable courage. She defied Pharaoh’s decree while actively involving her other children in her bold act of faith (Miriam guarded the basket and secured Jocabed as Moses’ nurse.) Moses spent his formative years with his own family, learning about God and Israel. His siblings, who were a part of his remarkable story, became his co-leaders in the exodus.

    “By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born because they saw he was no ordinary child and they were not afraid of the king’s edict” (Hebrews 11:23). 


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  • 2. Hannah

    2. Hannah

    Hannah was the mother of Samuel. Her heartache and fervent prayer life touched God, and He blessed her with a son after years of barrenness. Desiring to raise Samuel for God’s service, Hannah gave him to God so that he could work in the temple. By age three, Samuel had already learned to worship; by age seven, God was speaking to him directly. Samuel became one of Israel’s greatest leaders. I suspect Hannah’s prayers supported him throughout his lifetime.

    “And she made a vow, saying, ‘O Lord Almighty, if you will . . . remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life’” (1 Samuel 1:11). 


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  • 3. Shunammite Woman

    3. Shunammite Woman

    Shunammite woman was mother to a boy and hostess to Elisha. The Shunammite woman built a room into her house so the prophet Elisha had a place to stay on his journeys; a place where she could serve him and care for him. Finally, after years of a childless marriage, God blessed the woman with a boy. When the boy died suddenly, the Shunammite saddled a donkey and rode 25 miles to get Elisha, willing him to pray over her son. Her desire for God’s blessing gave her the faith to trust God with her life, even amidst tragedy. And God raised the boy from the dead.

    “But the child’s mother said, ‘As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you’” (2 Kings 4:30). 


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  • 4. Widow

    4. Widow

    Widow was the mother of two sons. After a faithful prophet died, his widow implored Elisha to help her. She could not pay her debts, so the creditor had decided to take her two sons into slavery as payment. Elisha instructed her to pour out the only thing she had in the house—a small flask of olive oil—into as many jars as she could find. After she had borrowed dozens of jars from her neighbors, she followed Elisha’s instructions. The oil in her flask did not run out until she had filled enough jars with oil to sell for the payment. She paid off her debts and then lived off the rest. Her faith in God’s provision and reliance on God’s people set an incredible example for her sons when all hope seemed lost.

    “’Your servant has nothing there at all,’ she said, ‘except a little oil’” (2 Kings 4:2). 


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  • 5. Naomi

    5. Naomi

    Naomi was mother-in-law to Ruth. When a famine struck Israel, Naomi and her family made the decision to leave the country and live awhile in Moab, a nation of idol-worshippers. Although Naomi’s sons married Moabite women, Naomi must have reflected the hope of God in that culture because when tragedy struck, both of her daughters-in-law looked to her for guidance and hope. Her example, even while she grieved her husband and sons’ deaths, prompted Ruth to leave her own family and follow Naomi back to Israel. And God redeemed Naomi’s land, heritage, and family.

    “The women said to Naomi: ‘Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer’” (Ruth 4:14). 


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  • 6. Ruth

    6. Ruth

    Ruth was mother to Obed, grandmother to Jesse, great-grandmother to David, and great-great-grandmother to Solomon. Her faith in God and her willingness to care for her mother-in-law, Naomi, during a desperate time served as proof of her remarkable devotion. Ruth obeyed God’s laws in the midst of poverty, fear, and hopelessness. Some theologians think that Ruth is the inspiration for the Virtuous Woman of Proverbs 31. Her famous great-great-grandson, Solomon, must surely have known her story of love and loyalty.

    “’All my fellow townsmen know that you are a woman of noble character’” (Ruth 2:11-12). 


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  • 7. Elizabeth

    7. Elizabeth

    Elizabeth was mother to John the Baptist, mentor to Mary. Late in life, Elizabeth became pregnant with a special child—John the Baptist—who would live in the wilderness, evangelizing the Jews and predicting the coming Messiah. Her young cousin Mary was also pregnant, with Jesus Christ. For three months, Mary stayed with Elizabeth and benefited from her example of encouragement and faith.

    “Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice, she exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?’” (Luke 1:43). 


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  • 8. Mary

    8. Mary

    Mary was the mother of Jesus, James, Joseph, and Jude. The most revered woman in all of history, Mary was a young, unwed mother, chosen by God for a daunting task: train and teach the Savior of the world. In addition to guiding Jesus toward His calling, she also reared other children, two of which wrote New Testament books. Mary’s obedience to God’s Will amidst the rumors, fame, rejection, and torture of her Son is remarkable.

    “And Mary said, ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior’” (Luke 2:46). 


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  • 9. Mary

    9. Mary

    Mary was mother to James and John. As Jesus’ ministry grew, the two sons of Zebedee and Mary catapulted with Peter into Jesus’ closest circle of friends. Known as “sons of thunder,” Mary’s boys displayed natural leadership skills and eagerly embraced a tough calling into ministry. Mary often followed Jesus and her sons to their events. Although she was criticized for her boldness in asking Jesus to let her boys sit beside Him in heaven, Mary’s commitment to the kingdom of God is unmistakable. She knew who Jesus was, and she wanted her sons as close to Him as possible.

    “Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.” (Matthew 27:54)


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  • 10. Mary

    10. Mary

    Mary was mother to John-Mark. A wealthy woman in Jerusalem, Mary housed Jesus and His disciples for the Last Supper, welcomed Jesus’ grieving throng of followers after His crucifixion, and kept the disciples during Jesus’ appearances after the resurrection. The first church met in Mary’s house. Her example of service to Christ must surely have influenced her young son John-Mark, who went with Barnabas on two missionary journeys. John-Mark also worked with Paul and Peter, and penned the Gospel of Mark. Mary led her son toward the Lord and ministry through her courageous service to the church.

    “He went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying” (Acts 12:12).


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    Sue Schlesman is a Christian writer, teacher, blogger, and speaker. Her blogs, fiction, and non-fiction reach a wide audience. She has a BA in Creative Writing and is earning a MA in Theology and Culture. You can find her philosophizing about life, education, family, and Jesus at www.susanwalleyschlesman.com.