Discipling Young Women (Part 1): Biblical Rationale

Scripture offers numerous reasons to focus on the discipleship of young women. This discussion will consider four major aspects of this biblical mandate. First, Jesus gave the Great Commission so that his followers would make and develop disciples. Second, the example of Jesus and other New Testament writers demonstrated the importance of teaching adults. Third, Paul specifically addressed the need to disciple young women in the season of marriage, parenting, and homemaking. Fourth, sin distorted the blessing of childbearing and relationships for women, and made this season of life painful and challenging.

The Great Commission Calls the Church to Make Disciples

When Jesus gave the Great Commission to his disciples he said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:18b-20). Followers of Christ are commanded to share the gospel with the nations, to baptize those who believe, and to teach them to observe all that Jesus had taught. The body of Christ is called to make and develop disciples by the work of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the local church is to teach all of Scripture to everyone who believes in Christ.

The New Testament Calls the Church to Disciple Adults

More specifically, the Bible demonstrates that adults are to be taught the truths of Scripture. The gospel accounts demonstrated Jesus teaching adults such as Nicodemus, the woman at the well, and so many others. Lawson observed, “The accounts of Jesus’ teaching His disciples and others in the Gospels all deal with adults. Once in a while He used a child as ‘visual aid,’ but He went to great lengths to make sure adults understood His teaching. His first opportunity to teach in the temple amazed His adult listeners. Each time He dealt with a faith issue. He was talking to adults.”[2] The theme of teaching adults was also consistent throughout the early church. Lawson continued, “Other New Testament writers, such as the apostle Paul, also make continual reference to teaching the adults in the churches. In letters to the believers in the churches he had visited, he frequently addressed the need for them to mature in their faith and grow up in Christ.”[3] Scripture is clear that it is valuable and necessary to teach adults the truths of God’s Word.

Paul Exhorted the Church to Disciple Young Women

Even more specifically, Paul addressed the need to disciple young women. In Titus 2, Paul gave instructions for the elders to teach proper conduct that reflects sound doctrine to older men, older women, and younger men. The older women then have the responsibility to teach and encourage the young women. Paul wrote, “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored” (Titus 2:3-5). In this text, Paul focused in on the demographic of older women who are then exhorted to teach what is good and encourage the young women in seven main areas. He specifically addressed marriage, parenting, and homemaking.

In addition to Titus 2, there are many other places in the Bible that address the marriage and parenting season of life for young women. At creation, God designed woman to be in relationship with man and to help and support him in his mandate (Gen 2:15-25). God blessed man and woman saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28). As Schrock noted, “In Christ women find blessing in God’s work by bearing fruit as they orient themselves towards the home (variously defined) so as to produce fruit through their Spirit-empowered calling to be a helper (Gen 2:18).”[4] The wise woman described in Proverbs 31 was praised for fearing the Lord, and caring for her husband, children, and home. Wives were exhorted to be subject to their husbands (Eph. 5:22, Col. 3:18, 1 Pet. 3:1-6). Paul taught that women will be “preserved through the bearing of children” (1 Tim. 2:15) and urged young widows to “get married, bear children, keep house” (1 Tim. 5:14). The Scriptures offer much insight into the lives of young women.

The Consequences of the Fall for Young Women

There is much evidence in the Bible of the roles and responsibilities for young women. Yet the duties that were intended to be a joy and blessing were distorted when sin entered the world in Genesis 3. After the forbidden fruit had been eaten, God described the consequences of the Fall for the serpent, the woman, and the man. “To the woman He said, ‘I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children; yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you’” (Gen. 3:16). Women were to find joy and fulfillment in bearing children and being a helper to their husbands. Sin has so distorted these functions, now making them painful and difficult. Schrock noted, “God’s curse does not generally afflict men and women; it targets areas of vocation unique to each of them. For the man, the field (variously defined) becomes a place of burden; for the woman, the home (variously defined) is filled with pain and difficulty.”[5] The consequences of sin have made the blessing of marriage, parenting, and homemaking extremely challenging for young women in this season of life.

Summary: A Biblical Rationale to Disciple Young Women

The Bible offers extensive insight for the reason to disciple young women. First, Jesus exhorted his followers to make and grow disciples. Second, Jesus and other New Testament writers emphasized the value of teaching adults. Third, Paul exhorted the church to disciple young women in the season of marriage, parenting, and homemaking. Fourth, sin distorted these functions by making them painful and challenging for women. In the next two posts we will consider the questions: Who Are the Young Women? and How Can the Local Church Disciple Young Women?

   [1]Margaret Lawson, “The Adult Learner,” in Teaching Ministry of the Church, 2nd ed., ed. William R. Yount (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2008), 347.

     [2]Ibid.

     [3]David Schrock, “Gender Specific Blessings: Bolstering a Biblical Theology of Gender Roles,” The Journal for Biblical Manhood & Womanhood 21.1 (Spring 2016):18.

     [4]Ibid, 16.

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