Were there women Apostles?
The apostleship of women is a huge factor to be considered as we define the apostolic church today. Interestingly, there are many ancient historical records regarding the work of women apostles in the early church:
Though not mentioned in Scripture, according to several highly respected extra-Biblical manuscripts, many women in the early church were said to be commissioned to operate in significant positions as apostolic leaders.
Susanna (the daughter of the former chazan of the Nazareth synagogue) was elected "chief leader of the women." Suzanna is widely mentioned in historical documents and there are many pictures of Suzanna in the Italian catacombs. She is always shown in powerful leadership over others - both male and female.
Next there was Joanna (the wife of Chuza, the steward of Herod Antipas) who was elected Herod's treasurer); Elizabeth (the daughter of a wealthy Jew of iberias and Sepphoris); Martha (the older sister of Andrew and Peter); Rachel (the sister-in-law of Jude, the brother of Jesus); Nasanta (the daughter of Elman, the Syrian physician); Milcha (a cousin of the Apostle Thomas); Ruth (Matthew's oldest daughter); Celta (the daughter of the Roman centurion); Agaman (a widow of Damascus), and Rebecca (the daughter of Joseph of Arimathea).
According to these records, it is said that Jesus authorized these women to preach, teach, build, and direct others. Apparently, Judas was instructed to provide funds for their equipment and necessary animals for transportation. It is documented that after the initial offerings, they furnished their own monetary support.
The Gnostic Gospels name Mary Magdalene as the "apostle to all apostles" or "the favorite apostle." Also to be considered as apostles were: Lydia, Phoebe (called a diakonos or "fellow worker" in Romans 16.1-2), The Elect Lady (who ran a church in her home), Priscilla, Junia (whom Paul said was his compatriot who was prominent among the apostles before he was), Euodia, and Syntyche. There were many more.
One of my favorites was the well known apostle named Thecla. Though not mentioned in Scripture, much historical narrative evidence considers Thecla to have been an apostle and associate of Paul. "The Acts of Paul" contains her first century accounts, which were probably greatly embellished as time went on.
I visited her still existing gigantic complex that included a huge church, a monastery, convent, and hospital that SHE BUILT near Selleucia. Amazingly, much of these remains still stand today. In 1902, Germans excavated Thecla's center, which apparently remained in active use for over 1,000 years under strong female apostleship and oversight.
Batalia led the huge congregation in Naples. I saw her fresco that covers the entire entry of the Catacombs there. This particular catacomb is closed to the public - but I have photographs from my visit.
God's friend and yours --
Dr. Kluane Spake
A servant of the Lord, called to be an apostle.
An excerpt from “From Enmity to Equality.” by Dr Kluane Spake.
Available here - http://www.kluane.org/books.html