In the New Testament, we find many women who display aspects of every gift of the Spirit whether or not they were aware of it.
For example, take the Samaritan woman at the well, whose name is lost to history (see John 4:7–29). Jesus singled her out and she is considered by many to be the first true evangelist in the Bible.
When she told the townspeople the Good News about the Christ, many of them believed.
Consider Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist and cousin of Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus.
Both of these devout women were active in prayer, worship, and faithful waiting on the Lord for the fulfillment of His prophetic promises. The interchange between these God-fearing women resulted in exuberant praises and prophesying concerning the destiny of Mary’s Child, the Messiah Jesus. The magnificent prophetic exchange that unfolded is recorded in Luke 1:39–55.
In addition to these prophetic songs of Elizabeth and Mary in the first chapter of Luke, we also see mention of “a prophetess Anna” in the second chapter:
And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers (Luke 2:36–37).
In other words, Anna’s prophetic ministry was expressed through intercession. Somehow she had come to know about all of the prophetic promises concerning the Messiah, promises that had not yet been fulfilled.
She was on the lookout for this promised Messiah, the Deliverer and hope of Israel. Like Simeon a moment before, Anna’s spirit leapt within her when she saw the little bundle in Mary’s arms.
This was the One! She blessed Him, knowing that all of the words of the prophets were coming to pass. I love Anna, and I know that women who are prophetic intercessors love her even more.
Other Notable Women Mentioned in the New Testament
We must cast a light on Phillip’s four daughters. Phillip, known to us as “the Evangelist,” had “four virgin daughters who were prophetesses” (Acts 21:9).
Apparently all four of Phillip’s unmarried daughters had been acknowledged by the local body of believers as having prophetic gifts. We do not know any words or actions specifically attributed to them, but surely the term “prophetesses” must have been well-deserved.
Sometimes I think that God plays favorites, and Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” were surely among them. Those two women arrived first at the empty tomb, were the first to hear the words, “He is risen,” and the first to announce His resurrection (see Matthew 28:1–10). Their unwavering loyalty and faith put them in the forefront of prophetic fulfillment.
The Holy Spirit also highlights a distinct woman in the market place. A prominent lady named Lydia, the well-to-do businesswoman from the city of Thyatira in modern-day Turkey whose conversion outside the Macedonian city of Philippi and subsequent outreach opened the door to the Gospel of the Kingdom throughout Europe (see Acts 16:14–15). She is considered the first convert in Europe, since she lived and worked far to the west and north of the rest of the Middle East and Asia.
Priscilla and Aquila are mentioned in several places in the book of Acts and also in Paul’s letters to the Romans, the Corinthians, and to Timothy. Like Paul, they worked as tentmakers, but they were also a husband-and-wife team in another way, evidently explaining the Gospel message with exceptional clarity, moving from Rome to Corinth to Ephesus and elsewhere as the Spirit of God led them. (See Acts 18:1-3,18-19, 24-26; Romans 16:3-4; 1 Corinthians 16:19; and 2 Timothy 4:19.)
Some commentators note the fact that Priscilla’s name is almost always mentioned first which was as unusual then as it is now. This may indicate that she was the most engaging teacher of the pair, the one who brought the Word to life as not many other men or women could do.
Phoebe, an early deaconess in the growing church at Cenchrea, was well known for her servant’s heart and her works of mercy (see Romans 16:1). Chloe hosted a church in her home (see 1 Corinthians 1:11). It is difficult to tell if she was simply the homeowner-hostess or actually the pastor of the house church.
The listing of the name Junia—or Junias, as some translators prefer—in Romans 16:7 has caused a lot of controversy over the years. Was this person male or female? If female, was she actually considered an apostle, with all the implications raised by such an unusual role, or was she possibly married to Andronicus, the name listed right before hers, and thus serving along-side him as Priscilla and Aquila did together?
My point in cataloging so many of the women in the Bible is not to declare that all of them were prophetic in the narrowest definition of the term, but rather to highlight the idea that women have always been gifted to serve God’s people in the same ways as men.
Prominent Women in Church History
Throughout the history of the church we know of many women of vibrant faith whose gifts and courage made a difference for the Kingdom in many nations of the earth.
You may recognize many of these names; they are some of my favorites:
- Vibia Perpetua (A.D. 181–203)
- Joan of Arc (1412–1431)
- Madame Jeanne Guyon (1648–1717)
- Susanna Wesley (1669–1742)
- Catherine Booth (1829–1890)
- Fanny Crosby (1820–1915)
- Maria Woodworth-Etter (1844–1924)
- Aimee Semple McPherson (1890–1944)
- Amy Carmichael (1867–1951)
- Lydia Prince (1890–1975)
- Mother (now Saint) Teresa of Calcutta (1910–1997)
- Basilea Schlink (1904–2001).
If you want examples of prophetic trances (being caught up into a state of ecstasy with prophetic revelation) look no further than the life of St. Teresa of Avila (1515–1582), who revived the Carmelite order of nuns and wrote about her experiences (her books include The Interior Castle, for example), to the lasting benefit of generations of believers. And we can each add others to this list, right?
In modern times, healing evangelist Kathryn Kuhlman (1907–1976) exercised supernatural gifts and words of knowledge along with gifts of healing and more in her public healing crusades in the United States. And the list goes on and on.
Gwen Shaw (1924–2013), was the founder of End-Time Handmaidens ministered as a pioneer in China and India, was guided by God’s prophetic light and sustained by His Spirit, well into her older age. Another one of the women who has impacted my life in a special way is Elizabeth (Beth) Alves, who recently graduated to her heavenly reward. I have referred to Beth as the “Grandma of the Prayer Shield.”
How can forget the fiery prophet Jill Austin of Master Potter Ministries? Then there is a woman in her own category, the endearing Michal Ann Goll, my late wife, founder of Compassion Acts and Women on the Frontlines. They both ascended to the Lord within 4 months of one another. What a lineage and legacy and shadow of Jesus they both cast. Mercy!
Women on the Frontlines Today
Today, preaching the Good News, prophesying and praying as the Spirit directs are many women of great diversity.
Some of these valiant woman include Jane Hamon, daughter-in-law of Bill Hamon, and also Sharon Stone of England, both accurate prophets of Christian International.
I must point out the tenacious Bonnie Chavda, prophetic lioness and wife of Mahesh Chavda. Joan Hunter doesn’t only carry on the mantle of the Happy Hunters, she carries her own healing grace raising up women of faith and courage.
Then there is Cindy Jacobs, founder of Generals International and one of the leading prophetic and prayer voices internationally in modern times. Among her many books is Possessing the Gates of the Enemy, which is about prophetic intercession.
In their diverse ways, prophetic leaders are often forerunners who carry a breaker anointing into the various seven cultural mountains of influence. This is especially true concerning my dear friend in ministry, adventuresome and articulate media entrepreneur, Patricia King.
When you add in the mix a woman such as the ecstatic prophetess, Stacey Campbell of Canada you begin to appreciate the immense diversity in giftedness among female prophets today.
Then there is the laid down lover of Jesus who states, “Have you stopped for the one?” I can just hear Heidi Baker challenging us all right now as the co-founder of Iris Ministries. She has provokes us all to be all we can be in Christ Jesus.
They are so different woman leaders today and yet each is so effective in their distinct fields of endeavor. Marilyn Hickey. Joyce Meyer. Beth Moore. Jane Jansen. And now we have a new generation coming forth such as Christine Cain, Alex Seeley, Katherine Ruonala, Jennifer Eviaz, Jessi Green and so many more.
Destined for Greatness Together
Whether male or female, we can be totally secure in our identity as chosen sons and daughters of the King.
As the apostle Paul put it, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
We belong to Him, body, soul, and spirit, and we want Him to use us however He desires.
One of His desires is that we would desire prophetic gifts that will enable us to teach and preach and interpret God’s will and purpose for ourselves and others (see 1 Corinthians 14:39).
I think it’s time to declare a no competition zone.
Why not be cheerleaders for one another instead of critics?
The New Wine is found in the cluster. Right? So let’s put aside the pointing of the finger of religious opinion and debate and let’s declare that we want each member of the body of Christ to excel and fulfill God’s highest purpose.
Bottom line, not only are we better together, but I believe we are destined for greatness together!
I encourage you follow the example of these exemplary women of faith and make a difference in the kingdom of God for Jesus’ sake!
Yes, Together, in Christ Jesus, We Make a Great Team!
James W. Goll
This article has been adapted from Chapter 8: “Prophetic Women” in The Prophet book by James W. Goll.
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