Q&A: Old Testament Women and Salvation

Old Testament Women and Salvation

Question

Since Old Testament woman could not be saved (only men received the covenant sign of circumcision), why can they be saved in the New Testament?

Answer

First, many women in the Old Testament were saved. Hebrews 11:31 mentions a woman of faith (the prostitute Rahab), and elsewhere we see other woman of faith, such as Sarah in 1 Pet. 3:6, held forth by the Word of God as saved (born again). It was even through an Old Testament woman, Mary (Matt. 1:18-25) that the Messiah came to save his people from their sins (Matt. 1:21).

Second, receiving the sign of circumcision did not necessarily mean that a male was saved, but that the male "and his family" were members of the covenant of God. Many who received the covenant sign and seal of circumcision were still lost and without God (e.g. Esau, Ishmael). Paul makes an argument concerning the very salvation of Israelites in Romans 9:3-5: "For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ." But as the text reveals, Paul clearly understood that not all Israel were born again (Rom. 9:10-21; 10:1-4; 11:7, etc.). Being a member of the covenant does not necessitate being a member of the invisible church the elect of God.

Third, not only were there woman of the Old Covenant who were born again, but we see members of the New Covenant born again as well (1 Cor. 7:13, 15; 1 Tim. 5:16), for example, the Samaritan woman (John 4), Mary Magdalene (Luke 8:2; John 20:18), and Priscilla (Acts 18: 24-28). Paul states in Galatians 3:26-29: "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."

We can see then, that it is an error to believe that everyone who has received the covenant sign of circumcision/baptism is saved, and it is an error to believe that women in the Old Covenant could not be saved.

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).