12 Women of the Bible: Women of Faith and Strength

Throughout the Bible, numerous women have showcased strength, faith, and resilience, leaving an indelible mark on history and the faith journey. Ruth (Book of Ruth), a Moabite, demonstrated loyalty and devotion, leading her to become the great-grandmother of King David.

Esther (Book of Esther) courageously used her position as queen to save her people from annihilation.

Mary (Matthew 1:16-25; Luke 1:26-56), the mother of Jesus, exhibited profound faith and obedience, accepting her divine role in salvation history.

Deborah (Judges 4-5) was a fearless leader and prophetess who led Israel to victory against oppressive foes.

Mary Magdalene (John 20:1-18) was a devoted follower of Jesus and was the first to witness and proclaim His resurrection. These women, among many others, exemplify the power of faith, courage, and dedication, serving as inspirations for generations to come.

Below are the stories of 12 faithful women of the Bible, and the roles they played in the story of Jesus.

Table of Contents


When Abraham was very old, Sarah, his wife, had died, and his son Isaac was still unmarried. Fearful that Isaac would marry a Canaanite woman, Abraham summoned a trusted servant and bade him set out to find, with God’s help, a suitable wife for Isaac.

The servant went to Nahor, a city of Mesopotamia, and waited by the well, where the women came in the evening to draw water. He prayed that God would indicate by a sign the woman Isaac should marry. The one who would give him a drink and water his camels would be Isaac’s future wife.

Eventually, Rebekah, “very fair to look upon, a virgin,” and the daughter of Abraham’s kinsman, came to the well. As he had planned, the servant asked her for a drink of water. Rebekah gave him some water, saying, “Drink, my lord.” When he had done so, she spoke again: “I will draw water for thy camels also until they have done drinking.”

Grateful that his prayer had been answered clearly, the servant presented Rebekah with a golden ring and two bracelets. The servant was invited to Rebekah’s home, where he explained his mission. Rebekah was called and asked if she would accept the proposal. “And she said I will go.”

After negotiations for the marriage had been completed, she left her family and went to Isaac, who “took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her,” After twenty years of marriage, they still had no children. Then, in answer to Isaac’s prayer, Rebekah conceived twins, Esau and Jacob, between whom a great hostility would arise a hostility, Rebekah maintained, that existed between them even in her womb.

Main Scriptures about Rebekah

Genesis 22:23 – This is the first mention of Rebekah, where it’s announced that she was born to Bethuel, Abraham’s nephew.

Genesis 24 – This chapter provides a detailed account of how Abraham’s servant was led to Rebekah as a wife for Isaac. It includes the story of the servant’s prayer by the well and Rebekah’s act of kindness in offering water to him and his camels.

Genesis 25:20-28 – These verses mention Isaac’s marriage to Rebekah, their prayer for children due to Rebekah’s barrenness, and the birth of their twin sons, Esau and Jacob. Rebekah receives a prophecy about the two nations that would come from her womb.

Genesis 26:7-11 – Here, Isaac lies about Rebekah being his sister (similar to what Abraham did with Sarah) when they were in Gerar, out of fear that he might be killed because of her beauty.

Genesis 27 – This chapter details Rebekah’s role in helping Jacob receive Isaac’s blessing, which was originally intended for Esau.

Genesis 28:5 – Isaac sends Jacob to Paddan-Aram, to the house of Bethuel, Rebekah’s father.

Genesis 29:12 – Jacob tells Rachel that he is a relative of her father and that he is Rebekah’s son.

Genesis 49:31 – This verse mentions the burial place of Rebekah along with other patriarchs and matriarchs.


Life for Miriam began in Egypt, where the Hebrew people were held as slaves. To her parents, a child was born, a son. Pharaoh had decreed that all male Hebrew babies be put to death. But the child’s mother hid her son for three months. When she could no longer conceal him, she made a basket of bulrushes, daubed it with mud and pitch, laid the baby in it, and placed it in the rushes by the river Nile.

Miriam, the baby’s sister, stood on watch nearby. The daughter of Pharaoh came down to the river to bathe and as she and her attendants walked along the river’s side, she saw the basket and directed that it be brought to her. She opened it and saw the child; the baby cried, and Pharaoh’s daughter was touched. “This,” she said., “is one of the Hebrews’ children.”

At this, Miriam stepped forward and asked, “Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee?” Pharaoh’s daughter agreed, and Miriam brought the child’s own mother.

The child was named Moses and was brought up in the care of the Pharaoh’s daughter. While Moses. grew to manhood, Miriam ministered to her people as a prophetess. Many years later, Miriam assisted Moses in leading their people out of Egyptian bondage.

When the Hebrews had crossed the Red Sea, Miriam sang her song of thanksgiving to the Lord-the song of Moses and Miriam–one of the earliest canticles in Hebrew literature. During the years of wandering in the wilderness, Miriam was cured of leprosy through Moses’ prayers, but she died before her people reached the Promised Land.

Main Scriptures about Miriam

Exodus 2:4-8 – This passage describes a young Miriam watching over her baby brother Moses when he’s placed in a basket on the Nile River. She later approaches Pharaoh’s daughter with the suggestion of getting a Hebrew woman (their mother) to nurse the baby.

Exodus 15:20-21 – After the Israelites cross the Red Sea and are delivered from the Egyptians, Miriam is described as a prophetess. She leads the women in song and dance, playing tambourines and singing in celebration of the victory.

Numbers 12:1-15 – Miriam and Aaron speak against Moses because of the Cushite woman he married. Miriam is struck with leprosy as punishment for her criticism, but after Moses prays for her, she is healed after seven days outside the camp.

Numbers 20:1 – This verse briefly mentions the death of Miriam and her burial in Kadesh.

Micah 6:4 – Miriam is mentioned alongside Moses and Aaron as leaders whom God sent to guide the Israelites.


Deborah lived with her husband, Lapidoth, between Ramah and Bethel in Mount Ephraim. To her, a judge of Israel and a prophetess, the people came from near and far and received wise counsel and prudent decisions. It was, however, during a period when her nation was menaced by war that Deborah rendered her greatest service to her country and won for herself lasting fame.

Though she was well aware that the Israelites had incurred God’s disfavor by their neglect and offenses, nevertheless, her faith in the Lord’s help never wavered. She knew that the Lord would rescue His chosen people if only they would honor Him and return to His service. Realizing that Israel lacked good military leadership, she summoned Barak, in whom she saw the promise of greatness.

With him, she planned a campaign against Sisera, the Canaanite commander and long-time oppressor of the Israelites, who had formidable military power at his disposal. Barak, however, agreed to cooperate only on one condition: “If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go.” The courageous Deborah met his condition immediately: “I will surely go with thee.” Deborah went with Barak into battle.

When the Israelites faced Sisera and his forces, Deborah cried out to Barak, “Up; for this is the day in which the Lord hath delivered Sisera into thine hand.” The Israelites, trusting in God, vanquished their Canaanite enemies, and Deborah and Barak sang their song of praise to God. Thanks to this gifted woman, the dire threat to the Israelites was averted, and a period of peace that lasted forty years was inaugurated.

Main Scriptures about Deborah

Judges 4:1-10 – This passage introduces Deborah as a prophetess who was judging Israel at that time. She held court under the Palm of Deborah. When the Israelites were oppressed by Jabin, the king of Canaan, Deborah sent for Barak and instructed him to gather an army to fight against Sisera, Jabin’s army commander.

Judges 4:14-16 – Deborah gives the signal to Barak to attack, assuring him that the Lord has given Sisera into his hands. Barak and his army defeat the Canaanites, but Sisera flees on foot.

Judges 4:17-24 – While this portion focuses more on Jael’s act of killing Sisera, Deborah’s prophecy that the honor of killing Sisera would go to a woman (referring to Jael) is fulfilled.

Judges 5 – This entire chapter is the Song of Deborah, a victory hymn sung by Deborah and Barak, celebrating the defeat of the Canaanites. The song recounts the events leading up to the battle, the battle itself, and praises the tribes of Israel that participated.

Judges 5:7 – In the song, Deborah refers to herself as “a mother in Israel,” highlighting her leadership and protective role over the people.

Judges 5:12 – “Wake up, wake up, Deborah! Wake up, wake up, break out in song!” This verse emphasizes Deborah’s role in rousing the Israelites to action.

Judges 5:31 – The song concludes with a prayer that all of God’s enemies perish and that those who love Him be as the sun when it rises in its strength. This marks the end of the oppression by the Canaanites, and the land had peace for forty years.


Famine had driven Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and his two sons from their home in Bethlehem to the land of Moab. There, his two sons took Moabite wives, Orpah and Ruth. Within a short space of time, all three men died, leaving Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth widows.

In this situation, Naomi decided to return home to Bethlehem, where she was known and might be able to get some help. For the same reason, she advised Orpah and Ruth to remain in Moab, their own land. Orpah took Naomi’s advice and went back to her own people. But Ruth, declaring total loyalty and devotion to her mother-in-law, refused to leave Naomi and went with her to Bethlehem.

At the outset, Naomi and Ruth found very little help in Bethlehem. For food, they had to rely on the few ears of corn Ruth was able to gather in the fields after the gleaners had passed. One day, however, the owner of the fields, Boaz, a kinsman of Naomi, noticed Ruth. He made inquiries about her and learned of her devotion to her mother-in-law. Impressed by all he heard, Boaz offered Ruth his friendship and eventually married her. Obed, the child of their marriage, was the grandfather of King David.

The Book of Ruth is often cited as the perfect example of the It does, of course, tell a beautiful and heart-warming story, but it has a much weightier significance. It shows that God’s favor is not restricted to the Israelites but extends to the Gentiles also: Ruth, a Gentile woman from Moab, became the ancestor of David, from whom the Messiah was descended.

Main Scriptures about Ruth

Ruth 1:1-5 – The story begins with a famine in Bethlehem, leading Elimelek and his wife Naomi to move to Moab with their two sons. The sons marry Moabite women, one of whom is Ruth. Over time, Elimelek and his two sons die, leaving Naomi with her two daughters-in-law.

Ruth 1:6-22 – Naomi decides to return to Bethlehem and urges her daughters-in-law to stay in Moab. While Orpah stays, Ruth insists on going with Naomi, uttering the famous words, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.”

Ruth 2 – Ruth goes to glean in the fields of Boaz, a relative of Elimelek. Boaz shows kindness to Ruth because of her loyalty to Naomi. He ensures she is protected and has enough to gather.

Ruth 3 – On Naomi’s advice, Ruth approaches Boaz at the threshing floor to ask him to be her kinsman-redeemer. Boaz is honored by the request and promises to do all he can to protect and provide for Ruth and Naomi.

Ruth 4:1-12 – Boaz arranges to redeem Naomi’s land and marry Ruth. He ensures this is done legally by discussing it with the town elders and the closer relative who had the first right to redeem the land.

Ruth 4:13-22 – Ruth and Boaz marry and have a son named Obed, who becomes the grandfather of King David. The book concludes with a genealogy that connects Ruth to David, highlighting her significant role in the lineage of the Messiah.


At Carmel lived Nabal, a rich landowner with thousands of sheep and goats. To this man, David, who had been outlawed by King Saul and depended on the help of friendly neighbors for survival, sent ten of his men, asking for provisions. A mean and boorish man, Nabal angrily rejected the request: “There be many servants nowadays that break away every man from his master.

Shall I then take my bread and my water, and the flesh that I have killed for my shearers, and give it unto men, whom I know not where they are?” Thereupon, David’s men left and reported to their leader the churlish Nabal’s rejection of their request. Incensed by this news, David girded on his sword and set out with four hundred men to punish Nabal for his refusal.

Meanwhile, Abigail, Nabal’s prudent and lovely wife, learned of her husband’s inhospitable behavior towards David and of David’s resolve to take revenge. Abigail, therefore, had several hundred loaves of bread packed, a number of sheep dressed, measures of grain parched, and other gifts prepared. These stores were loaded on donkeys, and she set out for David’s camp at once.

As she approached, David went out to meet her, and Abigail dismounted and prostrated herself at his feet. With great courage and tact, she apologized for her husband’s rudeness; then, she begged David to accept the food she had brought and forgive them. When Abigail returned home, she told her husband of her mission and of how close he had come to perishing by David’s sword.

Overcome by fright, Nabal was sickened and died within ten days. As soon as David learned of his death, he recalled Abigail’s wisdom and beauty. He sent for her, therefore, and made her his wife.

Main Scriptures about Abigail

1 Samuel 25:1-13 – The story introduces Nabal, a wealthy but harsh and evil man, and his wife Abigail, described as intelligent and beautiful. David, who is in hiding from King Saul, sends messengers to Nabal requesting provisions, as David and his men had protected Nabal’s shepherds in the wilderness. Nabal rudely refuses.

1 Samuel 25:14-22 – One of Nabal’s servants informs Abigail of the situation, warning that harm might come to them because of Nabal’s foolishness. David, angered by Nabal’s response, prepares to attack.

1 Samuel 25:23-31 – Abigail acts quickly, preparing a generous gift of food and supplies. She goes out to meet David and his men. Without her husband’s knowledge, she bows before David, apologizing for Nabal’s behavior. She praises David and advises him against shedding blood in vengeance, reminding him of God’s promise for his future.

1 Samuel 25:32-35 – David blesses Abigail for her wisdom and thanks her for preventing him from committing a rash act. He accepts her gift and sends her home in peace.

1 Samuel 25:36-38 – When Abigail returns home, she finds Nabal feasting and drunk. She waits until the next morning to tell him what she did. Upon hearing the news, Nabal’s heart fails him, and he becomes like stone. Ten days later, he dies.

1 Samuel 25:39-42 – When David hears of Nabal’s death, he praises God for avenging the insult and keeping him from doing wrong. Recognizing Abigail’s exceptional qualities, David sends messengers to propose to her. Abigail quickly accepts and becomes one of David’s wives.


When Ahasuerus, king of the Persians, repudiated Vashti, he resolved to find another queen. Word went out through his dominions to summon all the beautiful virgins and send them to the king. Among those who were sent was the Jewish maiden Esther. She was preferred by Ahasuerus to all the other beauties of his land, and he made her his queen.

Haman, the king’s prime minister, planned to massacre every Jew in the empire. Hearing this, Mordecai, Esther’s kinsman, clothed himself in sackcloth and ashes and mourned before the palace gate. A servant brought to Esther a message from Mordecai informing her of Haman’s cruel design and insisting that she intercede with Ahasuerus to spare her people.

The law forbade anyone to approach the king without being summoned. If anyone did so, that person was subject to the death sentence. Though compliance with Mordecai’s request involved risking her life, Esther decided to seek a meeting with the king: “And so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.” The king received Esther kindly, promising to grant her whatever she desired.

Thereupon, she told Ahasuerus of the plans to destroy her people. “Who is he,” asked the king, “and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so?” Esther replied, “The adversary and enemy are this wicked Haman.” Then Ahasuerus ordered that Haman be hanged on the gibbet that had been prepared for Mordecai. Thus did Esther, the queen, whose parents had been deported from Jerusalem to Babylon in the sixth century B.C., risk her own life on her people’s behalf with incredible selflessness and courage.

Main Scriptures about Esther

Esther 1 – King Ahasuerus of Persia holds a grand feast. When Queen Vashti refuses his command to display her beauty, she is banished from the kingdom.

Esther 2:1-18 – The king decides to find a new queen. Beautiful young women from the provinces are brought to the palace. Among them is Esther, a Jewish orphan raised by her cousin Mordecai. Esther finds favor with everyone, including the king, and is crowned the new queen. Importantly, Mordecai advises her to keep her Jewish identity a secret.

Esther 2:19-23 – Mordecai uncovers a plot to assassinate the king. He informs Esther, who then reports it to the king in Mordecai’s name. The conspirators are executed, and the event is recorded in the royal chronicles.

Esther 3 – Haman, an official elevated by the king, becomes enraged when Mordecai refuses to bow to him. In retaliation, Haman convinces the king to issue a decree to annihilate all Jews in the kingdom.

Esther 4 – Mordecai and the Jews mourn the decree. He sends word to Esther, urging her to approach the king and plead for her people. Esther decides to risk her life by going to the king unsummoned, famously saying, “If I perish, I perish.”

Esther 5 – Esther invites the king and Haman to a banquet. At the banquet, she invites them to another feast the following day.

Esther 6 – The king, unable to sleep, has the royal chronicles read to him and learns of Mordecai’s earlier loyalty. Realizing Mordecai was never rewarded, the king has Haman honor Mordecai in a public procession.

Esther 7 – At the second banquet, Esther reveals her Jewish identity and pleads for her life and the lives of her people. She exposes Haman’s plot, leading to his execution.

Esther 8 – Esther and Mordecai are given Haman’s estate. The king allows Esther and Mordecai to issue a new decree, granting Jews the right to defend themselves against their enemies.

Esther 9 – The Jews successfully defend themselves, and the days of victory are established as the Jewish festival of Purim.

Esther 10 – Mordecai is honored as a great official in the king’s court, and the story concludes with his achievements.


While Zacharias was performing his religious functions in the Temple, an angel appeared beside the altar and announced that his prayers for a child had been answered. “Thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John,” doubting that he and Elisabeth could have a child at their advanced age, Zacharias was told by the angel that he would be struck dumb.

Elisabeth had been carrying her baby for about six months when the angel Gabriel announced to her cousin, Mary, that she, too, would bear a Son. Thrilled with this wonderful news, Mary visited Elisabeth, who greeted her with the words: “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.” The two cousins, Mary and Elisabeth, one beyond the natural age of child-bearing, the other almost too young, dwelt together for three months.

Then Mary returned home to prepare for the great event that lay ahead. Shortly after Elisabeth had given birth to her son, her relatives proposed that the child be named after Zacharias, his father. Elisabeth said, “Not so, but he shall be called John.” The relatives then appealed to the father, sure that he would agree. But Zacharias took a tablet and wrote: “His name is John.” Immediately, his tongue was loosed, and his speech returned, and Zacharias joyfully praised God.

Throughout the ages, Elisabeth has rightly been remembered as an outstanding mother. Though well beyond the natural age of child-bearing, her great faith and prayers won from God the birth of a son. Not just an ordinary son, but a son of whom Jesus said, “Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist.”

Main Scriptures about Elisabeth

Luke 1:5-7 – Introduces Elisabeth and her husband Zechariah. Both are described as righteous before God, but they had no children because Elisabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years.

Luke 1:8-25 – While Zechariah is performing his priestly duties, the angel Gabriel appears to him, announcing that Elisabeth will bear a son named John. Zechariah doubts the message because of their old age, and as a result, he is made mute until the prophecy is fulfilled. When he returns home, Elisabeth conceives.

Luke 1:36 – The angel Gabriel, while announcing to Mary about her conception of Jesus, mentions that Elisabeth, her relative, has also conceived in her old age and is in her sixth month, for “nothing will be impossible with God.”

Luke 1:39-45 – Mary visits Elisabeth. When Elisabeth hears Mary’s greeting, the baby (John) leaps in her womb, and Elisabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit. She blesses Mary and acknowledges her as the mother of the Lord. Elisabeth expresses joy that Mary, the mother of her Lord, has come to visit her.

Luke 1:56 – Mary stays with Elisabeth for about three months before returning home.

Luke 1:57-60 – Elisabeth gives birth to a son. On the eighth day, during the circumcision ceremony, relatives assume the child will be named Zechariah after his father. Elisabeth insists his name will be John.

Luke 1:61-66 – The relatives are surprised by the name choice, as no one in their family is named John. When they ask Zechariah, he writes on a tablet, “His name is John.” Immediately, Zechariah’s speech is restored, and he praises God. The neighbors are filled with awe, and word of these events spreads throughout the Judean hills.

Mary, Mother of Jesus

Mary, the mother of Jesus, is the most exalted and honored woman of all time. A young, unknown girl, she was chosen by God to give birth to the Messiah, a privilege prayed for and desired by every Jewish maid throughout the centuries. Announcing her great privilege, an angel appeared to her and declared that her child “shall be called the Son of God.”

Though so young and greatly startled by the wondrous news, Mary sought further explanation: “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” The angel answered her question. “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee.” Thereupon, demonstrating her great holiness and total submission to God’s will, Mary said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it unto me according to thy word.”

According to a tradition drawn from the apocryphal literature, Mary’s parents were Joachim and Anna. We are told that in response to their prayers for a child, an angel appeared to Anna and announced: “I am that angel who hath offered up your prayers and alms before God, and am sent to you, that I may inform you that a daughter will be born unto you, who shall be called Mary and shall be blessed above all women.”

With tender love and abiding faith, Mary ministered to her Son from His birth in the stable at Bethlehem until His burial in the sepulcher near Calvary. Her entire life was dedicated to the love and service of Jesus. The suffering and grief foretold to her by Simeon, Jerusalem’s just and devout man, reached its came to be as she watched Jesus die on the cross.

Main Scriptures about Mary, Mother of Jesus

Matthew 1:18-25 – The angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in a dream, informing him that Mary, his betrothed, will conceive by the Holy Spirit and give birth to Jesus. Joseph takes Mary as his wife but does not consummate the marriage until she gives birth to Jesus.

Luke 1:26-38 – The angel Gabriel visits Mary in Nazareth, announcing that she will conceive by the Holy Spirit and give birth to Jesus, the Son of God. Mary responds with faith, saying, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

Luke 1:39-56 – Mary visits her relative Elisabeth. Upon hearing Mary’s greeting, Elisabeth’s unborn baby leaps in her womb, and Elisabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, blesses Mary. Mary responds with the Magnificat, a song of praise to God.

Luke 2:1-7 – Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem due to a census. There, Mary gives birth to Jesus and lays Him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.

Luke 2:21-38 – Mary and Joseph present Jesus at the Temple in Jerusalem. Simeon and Anna, two devout individuals, recognize Jesus as the Messiah and prophesy about His role in salvation.

Luke 2:41-52 – When Jesus is twelve, the family travels to Jerusalem for the Passover. On their way back, they realize Jesus is missing and find Him in the Temple, discussing the scriptures with the teachers. Mary treasures these events in her heart.

John 2:1-12 – At the wedding in Cana, Mary informs Jesus that the wine has run out. This leads to Jesus performing His first miracle, turning water into wine.

Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21 – Mary and Jesus’ brothers come to see Him while He’s teaching. Jesus uses the opportunity to teach that whoever does God’s will is His family.

John 19:25-27 – Mary is present at the crucifixion of Jesus. From the cross, Jesus entrusts her care to the disciple John.

Acts 1:14 – After Jesus’ ascension, Mary is mentioned as being with the disciples, continually devoting herself to prayer.

Mary of Bethany

Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha, lived at Bethany, a  village near Jerusalem. They were close friends of Jesus, who, with His disciples, often visited their home. There, the Master and His disciples could always find rest and generous hospitality. There, He would withdraw briefly and rest among friends. Whenever Jesus visited His friends in Bethany, Mary would settle at His feet, gaze up at His face, and listen attentively to His every word.

Meanwhile, her sister Martha would apply herself to the household tasks and prepare a meal for the visitors. During one such visit, Martha complained about Mary leaving all the work to her. Answering Martha, Jesus gently chided her and pointed out that Mary had chosen the better part. In other words, Martha is a good woman, pursuing worthy and necessary tasks.

Nevertheless, these cannot compare in importance with the eternal truths that claimed Mary’s total attention. Mary of Bethany, then, was a woman whose greatest delight consisted in hearing and meditating on the message of Jesus. To Him and to His message, all her interest and attention were directed. Her gift of holiness is very special: it is the holiness that gives a person the vision to see the goodness and wonder of God with great clarity. However, few are gifted with Mary’s special holiness. And we did not expect Martha to be like Mary. 

He simply taught her that everything we do must have a meaning that reaches beyond this life to the kingdom of heaven. Mark and John relate to Mary anointed Jesus in the house of Simon the leper. Mark tells us that Jesus foretold that wherever the gospel is preached, Mary’s anointing of Him would be remembered.

Main Scriptures about Mary of Bethany

Luke 10:38-42 – Jesus visits the home of Mary and Martha in Bethany. While Martha is busy with preparations, Mary sits at Jesus’ feet, listening to His teachings. When Martha complains about Mary not helping, Jesus commends Mary for choosing the “better part,” emphasizing the importance of spiritual over temporal concerns.

John 11:1-44 – When Lazarus falls ill, the sisters send word to Jesus. By the time Jesus arrives in Bethany, Lazarus has been dead for four days. Both sisters express faith in Jesus, but it’s Mary’s deep grief that moves Jesus to tears. He then raises Lazarus from the dead.

John 12:1-8 – Six days before the Passover, Jesus dines in Bethany. Mary anoints Jesus’ feet with a costly perfume and wipes them with her hair. Judas Iscariot criticizes her for not selling the perfume and giving the money to the poor. Jesus defends Mary’s act, interpreting it as an anointing for His burial and stating, “The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”

Matthew 26:6-13 and Mark 14:3-9 – These passages also recount the anointing incident, though the woman’s name is not specified in these accounts. Given the similarities in the narrative and the location (Bethany), many scholars believe it refers to the same event described in John, involving Mary of Bethany.


It is a measure of our human weakness that we tend to remember people’s faults and forget their virtues. The apostle Thomas, for instance, is mostly remembered for his doubt; seldom remembered is his loyalty and courage in urging the disciples to accompany Jesus to Bethany even if it cost them their lives. Likewise, Martha, the sister of Mary and Lazarus, is most often thought of as the woman who complained to Jesus, the one who was unfavorably compared with her sister.

Yet Martha, though very different from her sister Mary, was a most conscientious and worthy woman, and Jesus loved her. When she complained to Jesus that she had to do all the work about the house, He did not censure her industriousness. He gently corrected her outlook; Mary’s total dedication to Himself was a sign of her holiness, not laziness. During His ministry on earth, the response most yearned for by Jesus was faith.

Constantly, He stressed this in His teaching, and invariably His miracles were a reward for faith. It is Martha’s greatness that she made one of the most earnest professions of faith recorded in the Gospel narrative. Though Lazarus, her brother, had been dead for four days when Jesus arrived in Bethany, Martha declared that had Jesus been present, her brother would not have died.

In reply, Jesus told her that He was the resurrection and the life: whoever believed  “Believest thou this?” Without a moment’s delay she professed her belief and declared: m even though dead shall live. “I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.”

Main Scriptures about Martha

Luke 10:38-42 – Jesus visits Martha’s home in Bethany. While Martha is preoccupied with serving and preparations, her sister Mary sits at Jesus’ feet, listening to His teachings. Martha, feeling overwhelmed, asks Jesus if He doesn’t care that Mary has left her to do all the work alone. Jesus responds by pointing out that Mary has chosen the “better part,” emphasizing the value of spiritual attentiveness over being overly concerned with tasks.

John 11:1-44 – When their brother Lazarus falls ill, Martha and Mary send word to Jesus. By the time Jesus arrives in Bethany, Lazarus has been dead for four days. Martha goes out to meet Jesus and expresses her faith in Him, saying, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus assures her that Lazarus will rise again, leading to a profound declaration from Martha: “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” Later in the chapter, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead.

John 12:1-2 – Six days before the Passover, Jesus returns to Bethany. A dinner is given in His honor, and Martha serves while Lazarus is among those reclining at the table with Jesus.

The Samaritan Woman

As Jesus rested by Jacob’s well near the village of Sychar, a Samaritan woman came to the well to draw water. She was startled when Jesus said, “Give me something to drink.” Jewish custom  was very strict regarding a man conversing with a woman in public. Jews regarded the Samaritans as outcasts and had no dealings with them.

Jesus would teach her that His message knew no boundaries. His love embraced every human being. He further startled the woman by declaring, “whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” The woman was deeply impressed and asked for this water that Jesus could give. Rewarding her for her good disposition, Jesus led her a step further in His lesson.

By showing her His knowledge of her personal life, He laid the foundations for her belief in Him. He told her she had had five husbands “and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband.” The woman then declared that He was a prophet. Jesus, therefore, proceeded to teach her the full truth about Himself. Yes, indeed, He was a Prophet-He was the Messiah.

At this point, the disciples, who had gone into the village to buy food, returned, and the woman hurried off to tell her neighbors of her experience. “Come.” she cried to them, “see a man who told me everything I ever did: is this not the Christ? They returned to the well with the woman, and Jesus taught them.  “And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in him.”

Main Scriptures about the Samaritan Woman

John 4:1-26 – Jesus travels through Samaria and stops at Jacob’s well near the town of Sychar. While His disciples go into town to buy food, a Samaritan woman comes to draw water. Jesus initiates a conversation by asking her for a drink. This surprises the woman, as Jews typically did not associate with Samaritans, especially a Jewish man with a Samaritan woman. Their conversation deepens, with Jesus speaking about “living water” and the gift of eternal life. The woman expresses her desire for this water, and the dialogue shifts to her personal life. Jesus reveals His knowledge of her having had five husbands and that the man she’s currently with is not her husband. This divine insight astonishes the woman. The conversation then turns to worship, with Jesus teaching about true worshippers worshipping the Father in spirit and truth. When the woman mentions the coming Messiah, Jesus reveals to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

John 4:27-30 – The disciples return and are surprised to find Jesus speaking with a Samaritan woman. The woman, leaving her water jar, goes back to her town and tells the people about her encounter with Jesus, asking, “Could this be the Messiah?”

John 4:39-42 – Many Samaritans from the town believe in Jesus because of the woman’s testimony. They urge Jesus to stay with them, and He does for two days. As a result, many more become believers, not just because of the woman’s words, but because they have heard Jesus for themselves.

Mary Magdalene

Mary, from the city of Magdala, an important Galilean trading center at the southern end of the Plain of Gennesaret, was one of the most prominent Galilean women who followed and ministered to Jesus. The New Testament identifies her as one of several women who had been cleansed of evil spirits-“Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils.” But we do not know whether this means she suffered from a spiritual or physical sickness.

Though there is nothing in the Scriptures to warrant it, Mary Magdalene is often identified with the sinful woman who anointed Jesus, washed His feet with her tears, and dried them with her hair at the home of Simon the Pharisee. Mary Magdalene has also been identified with Mary of Bethany. But this is highly unlikely. Mary Magdalene was a Galilean. Mary of Bethany lived in Judea – the village of Bethany is just east of Jerusalem.

Finally, Mary of Bethany was contemplative; Mary Magdalene devoted herself to the active service of Jesus. The Gospel narrative shows us that Mary Magdalene’s great devotion to Jesus and to His cause was expressed in very practical ways. She was one of the women who followed Him and ministered to Him when He was in Galilee. She accompanied Him and His disciples when He went to Jerusalem just before His death. She was present at the Crucifixion.

She came to the tomb to anoint Jesus and reported that the tomb was empty and gave the angels’ message to the Disciples. Many feel that Jesus’ personal appearance to Mary Magdalene after His resurrection was a special reward for the unfailing loyalty and practical help she devoted to Him and His cause.

Main Scriptures about Mary Magdalene

Luke 8:1-3 – Mary Magdalene is introduced as one of the women who accompanied Jesus and the Twelve Apostles. She is described as having had seven demons cast out of her by Jesus. Along with other women, she helps support Jesus’ ministry from her own means.

Matthew 27:55-56 – Mary Magdalene is mentioned as one of the women who followed Jesus from Galilee and witnessed His crucifixion from a distance.

Mark 15:40-41 – Similar to Matthew’s account, Mary Magdalene is noted as one of the women who observed Jesus’ crucifixion.

John 19:25 – Mary Magdalene stands near the cross, alongside Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the apostle John, as Jesus is crucified.

Matthew 27:61 – After Jesus’ death, Mary Magdalene and another woman named Mary are present when Jesus is laid in the tomb.

Mark 15:47 – Mark’s account also notes that Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Joses, saw where Jesus was laid.

Matthew 28:1-10 – After the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary go to see the tomb. They experience an earthquake, and an angel rolls away the stone covering the tomb’s entrance. The angel tells them that Jesus has risen and instructs them to inform the disciples. As they leave, Jesus appears to them, and they worship Him.

Mark 16:1-11 – Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bring spices to anoint Jesus’ body. They discover the empty tomb and are informed of Jesus’ resurrection by a young man in white. Mary Magdalene is the first to see the risen Jesus and goes to tell the disciples, but they do not believe her.

John 20:1-18 – Mary Magdalene visits the tomb and sees that the stone has been removed. She runs to tell Peter and John. After they leave the tomb, Mary remains outside, weeping. She encounters two angels and then Jesus, though she initially mistakes Him for the gardener. Jesus reveals Himself to her with a single word, “Mary.” She recognizes Him and exclaims, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

Luke 24:1-12 – Women, including Mary Magdalene, visit the tomb and find it empty. They are told of Jesus’ resurrection by two men in dazzling apparel. The women report this to the apostles, but their words seem like nonsense to them.

The Elect Lady

John’s Second Epistle is addressed to “the elect Lady and her children..” This address has always puzzled Scripture scholars, who have wondered whether the Epistle was written to a particular woman and her family or to the church symbolically called “the elect Lady.” Though the latter interpretation is probably correct, the former is more suitable for our purposes. 

We should view this Epistle as advice to Christian mothers. The Epistle impresses an ageless truth: the fundamental importance of the mother’s role in family life. As the father is the “head,” she is the “heart.” She must foster and protect love in the home, love of God, and mutual love in the family.

She must strive to see that this love grows within the family, reaches outside the home, and expresses itself in the love of neighbor: “And this is love, that we walk after his commandments.” The author of this Epistle stresses the children’s dependence on their mother for their Christian training and formation. He commends “the elect Lady” because he found her children “walking in truth.”

Likewise, the mother would have received a rebuke had he found them otherwise. For, in normal circumstances, the mother is with the children most and has the greatest opportunity to build in them daily, the Christian character that will sustain them throughout life.

Since this is so, the Christian mother must also guard her home and her children against evil ideas and behavior. On this point, the author of the Epistle is quite blunt: Christian mothers must be alert to the dangers posed to their homes and families by those who at every age, teach false values.