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The Apostle Who Defied Women’s Destiny
Who was Thecla? Little known today, especially in Protestant churches, Thecla of Iconium enjoyed fame perhaps second only to Mary, mother of Jesus, in the early Christian era.
Thecla’s anonymity is all the more remarkable because women were so prominent in the formation of the church. The Gospels mention women who accompanied Jesus and the 12 apostles from town to town and supported them financially—Joanna, Mary Magdala, Susanna “and many others” (Luke 8:3). We know that Jesus considered himself “at home” in the home of Mary and her sister Martha (Luke 10:38–41; John 11:1–3, 12:2). After Jesus’ death, women evidently traveled as missionaries with their husbands or brothers (Romans 16:3, 7, 15); in Romans 16:7, Paul calls Junia an apostle, and he greets Euodia and Syntyche as “coworkers” (Philippians 4:2–3)—a term (in Greek, sunergos) that he usually reserved for apostles. Paul also makes it clear that women were expected to “prophesy” in the churches (1 Corinthians 11:5–10).

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