As we read through the Scriptures we discover that whether a person is a man or a woman is one more consideration that doesn’t seem to matter to God as He looks for agents of his inbreaking redemptive work.
God reminds the Israelites through Micah, “I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam.” Miriam is called a “prophetess” in Exodus when she leads a song after the Red Sea crossing (NIV has “prophet” but the Hebrew form is not surprisingly feminine), and she and Aaron insist in Numbers (their words are true, even though their motives are unfortunately bad) that the Lord has spoken through them as well as through Moses.
Deborah is similarly describe in Judges as a “prophetess” and it’s said that she “judged Israel”: “The Israelites went up to her to have their disputes settled.” In this capacity she was performing a function that would belong to Israel’s later kings.
When David’s general Joab pursued a rebel leader to the city of Abel and besieged the city to capture him, a “wise woman” negotiated with Joab from the city wall and arranged to turn over the leader (actually, throw his severed head over the wall) so the city would be spared. She was functioning the way a city elder would, identifying a wise solution to a difficult social problem at the city gate. (In this case the gates were closed because of war so the walls served the same function.)
When the law of Moses was rediscovered in the temple during Josiah’s reign and God’s impending judgment was recognized, the king told his highest officials to “Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the people.” They went to Huldah the prophetess, even though Jeremiah and Zephaniah were also prophesying in Jerusalem at this time. She responds authoritatively, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says . . .”
We see similar examples in the New Testament: women accompany Jesus, learn from him, provide for him, and care for his crucified body; Philip’s four daughters prophesy; Phoebe reads Paul’s letter to the Roman church; Junia is identified in that letter as an “apostle”; etc.
Even though some interpreters try to parse these women’s roles finely to show that in some way they conform to Paul’s supposed prohibition of women in authority roles, the basic fact is undeniable: God uses women just as well as men throughout the Scriptures as agents of his inbreaking redemption. So why shouldn’t they be allowed to serve as similar agents today, without restriction?