Women Supporting Jesus & The Twelve

I was reading this morning and this passage stuck out to me:

Soon afterwards, He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means. -(Luke 8:1-3, ephasis added)

Am I understanding this correctly that these women were supporting Jesus and the Twelve as they traveled and did ministry? The “many others” seems to refer specifically to the women mentioned earlier, so I don’t know how else to read it.

What do you all think about this passage, specifically the apparent (someone might argue) reversal of the created order, where these women are financially supporting the men? Is this appropriate because of the uniqueness of the time, because Jesus was physically walking the earth? Can we make application for today, say, that it might be appropriate for a wife to earn a wage to support her husband in the work of ministry? If so, what circumstances would allow this?

I’m interested to hear any thoughts you have.


Glad you brought this up, as I had the same question this morning. I’m wondering if this would be akin to something like patronage? It would be easy, it seems to me, to imagine someone like the Proverbs 31 woman who “considers a field and buys it” and who “extends her hand to the poor” also deciding to financially support a public teacher with funds she has at her disposal.

To use an analogy, if a woman was a financial patron of Warhorn Media we wouldn’t think of it as a “role reversal” even though a woman would be technically supporting the work of (mainly) men.


You’d think the wife of Herod’s steward would have a bit of ching.


“Soon afterwards, He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. 1. The twelve were with Him, and 2. also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and 3. many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means.” -Luke 8:1-3

Couldn’t that last phrase also be a continuation of the list which began with the twelve, and not a continuation of a list within a list? (see my numbers in bold) In which case it could easily include men?

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“Soon afterwards, He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. 1. The twelve were with Him, and 2. also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: 2a. Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and 2b. Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and 2c. Susanna, and 2d. many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means.” -Luke 8:1-3

This seems to be the more natural reading to me, that the “many others” are a continuation of the list of women. But I could certainly be wrong.

Yes, I think I’ve always heard it that way, but the alternate reading seems at least worth suggesting.

Edited because brain fog…


I’ve always read it the way you suggest, Kelly, especially because the phrase is still referring to who was with Jesus. The basic list goes like this:

  1. The Twelve.
  2. Some women (who were healed).
  3. Many others (who were supporting).

I think it’s much more difficult to read it the other way.

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That’s funny - I’ve always read it the first way, with the “many others” being more women.

Here it is from the NKJV: “Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.”

The punctuation there seems to confirm @Zak_Carter’s original reading.

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Yep, that version tips it the other way.

Here’s more support for the many others being the healed women:

  1. Matthew 27:55
  2. Mark 15:40-41
  3. Matthew Henry assumes this in his commentary on Luke.

I see how this could give us pause, but at the same time I don’t see their support as a reversal of the creation order at all.

The idea that the essence of manhood is to provide is an idea that, I think, has expanded since the industrial revolution. Primarily, men are to lead. And that generally includes leading in the area of provision. Yes, men are to reflect God’s “fatherness” in his provision. But if you consider pre-industrial times, you see the family unit working together to provide, not the father leaving the home for the day to make a buck and bring it back so the mother can purchase everything at the store. If you look at biblical examples and instructions, you see women working to provide for family, for those around them, though not instructions to lead.

If the women were telling Jesus where to direct his ministry, what to teach, who to call as disciples, then that would be a reversal of the creation order. If they were saying, , You are using our money, so you have to do what we say that would be a reversal and a sinful offense. But the women contributing does not reverse it. Even if all of the money came only from women it would not do this, esp considering that it is God who owns all of the cattle on a thousand hills. Jesus, who led his ministry, certainly understood that God was the actual provider, even if some of his disciples, followers or supporters needed the occasional correction.

I think the women contributing - though not leading - actually displays the creation order and speaks to the dignity and value of women in the Kingdom. We people who are so prone to sin and to thinking wrongly need to see this. When we relegate women to second place in the Kingdom we get reactionary false teachers pervading our churches. (I could drop names here but we all know that’s not necessary.) But when we embrace and display the value of women in the Kingdom, the proper duties of women in the Kingdom (in-disposable duties!) then it helps us see the God’s Kingdom Come.

(Sorry if leaned on italics too much, something about italics this morning…)


Assuming we’ve established that 1) it was the women who were supporting Jesus & the Twelve and 2) this is not a reversal of the created order, let me play the Devil’s Advocate. :smiling_imp:

So why do all you patriarchal male-headship types always make such a fuss about men needing to be the providers? Even in Nathan’s response he said, “Yes, men are to reflect God’s ‘fatherness’ in his provision.” But what is uniquely “fathery” about provision if the family unit is supposed to work as a whole? Here we have the man called “Eternal Father” (Isaiah 9:6) who had no problem letting women earn the bread he ate while he was doing the work of God’s kingdom–which never earned him a dime. Blame the industrial revolution all you want, but in this passage we don’t see them all working together, but the women doing the earning and the men doing the spending (or at least the eating).

Yet I always hear people like you making whipping boys of young seminarians who rely on their wives to earn a wage while they prepare for the pastorate. Isn’t that just following the model of Jesus–or at least the Twelve, who were supported by women while in Jesus’ 3-year ministry training program? Or what about men who stay home to educate their children while their wives earn wages for the family? Don’t we need more fathers giving their children a Christ-centered education? And isn’t giving such an education just as much kingdom work as anything else? Yet people like you call these men effeminate for “making” their women work for them. But if that’s the case, you’d better be prepared to call Jesus and the Twelve effeminate, too.

And I agree that this text displays the value of women. Jesus empowered women to work in the world just as much as men. He was the first feminist, after all.

I don’t remember the DAA going off, so here you go. :alarm_clock::alarm_clock::alarm_clock::rotating_light::rotating_light::rotating_light:

Consider the Devil’s Advocate Alarm sounded.

Calling @jacob.mentzel, @nathanalberson, and @bstormcrow. How do we turn this thing off?


First, I love the italics brother. Keep it up!

Second, let me mull it over a bit. Not sure I can completely answer but I could begin to. First, I gotta put the thoughts together better. Certainly others could do a better job, but I’ll jump back in if I decide I can contribute.


I’ll take the bait…

Can I go back to Mrs. Chuza Steward? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that she wasn’t the breadwinner. And the Scriptures aren’t quite specific to how the other women obtained their ‘private means’, so calling them the ‘providers’ with an eye toward the ladies bringing home the bacon, is a little presumptuous.

And we’re not seeing the women doing the earning, but actually the spending. They are using their (unknown-to-us-how-obtained) money in ways they see fit. There is no ‘making women work’ while Jesus and the boyz sit on their duff. That’s just reading into it.

There is neither an argument for or against women working/earning/providing here. But it does reveal where their treasure lies, and thus what was in their heart, and in that way serves as a valid example to all followers of Jesus.


I heard my name called.

Ditto what deepermagic said—this is Chuza and other women spending money that is at their disposal. And for what? To support their Pastor, the great Shepherd of the sheep. Scripture says mere men are worth supporting for the shepherding they do (1 Cor 9:1ff). How much more was Jesus worth supporting! And not only women but men supported Jesus, of course. Take the wealthy Joseph of Arimethea as an example, who would later donate a tomb for the Lord. It’s not feminism to support your pastor.

To the other/broader points of mr. devil’s advocate, well… Nathan Smith already made short work of those before they were written (would that you had known it, DA!). But I’ll at least reiterate.

Women have often helped win bread for the family, and often had disposable income. Proverbs 31 shows a wife with a home business who invests in real estate. She uses her earnings to do a lot of things for the family. And what is the outcome? She’s a support to her husband as he deals with matters at the city gate. She’s his subordinate. And Prov 31 doesn’t say she’s the primary breadwinner. In fact the whole context of Proverbs—a book written first to sons—assumes that men need wisdom for making and increasing wealth. Meaning it puts the primary breadwinning responsibility on the man, as a rule. As Nathan already said, it’s part of a man’s leadership responsibilities.

None of the men in the Gospel accounts were staying home to educate their kids while their wives went out and worked. They went out and worked hard and lots of people supported the work they did. So that one’s a red herring.

Come back at us, Zak?

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Well, you guys are just proving your hypocrisy on this and contradicting yourselves. First you say that these women weren’t the breadwinners, but gave out of their husbands’ breadwinning, then you say that women have always been breadwinners alongside their husbands. Which is it?.

Also, I brought up two specific examples of women supporting the ministry of men: a wife supporting a husband through seminary and a mother supporting a family financially while the father educates their children. Both of these involve a lot of hard work, and I find your implying that these guys must not be working hard (just “sitting on their duff”) to be insulting. You’re also dodging the issue. Sure, if these guys are lazy men leeching off their wives, then I agree with you that that’s wrong. But why is your only objection that these guys must not be working hard? Why is it OK, according to you, for a woman to support someone else’s husband (i.e. her pastor) but not her own husband? That’s totally arbitrary.

You say that Proverbs is about men needing wisdom for making and increasing wealth (IMHO it’s more about righteousness than making money, but I’m sure you know best). If that’s the case, then why aren’t Jesus and the Twelve following this pattern during the 3 years of public ministry? Paul at least was a tentmaker and paid his own way at least some of the time. Why is it that, according to your interpretation, Paul was better at putting the Proverbs into practice than Jesus, who was happy to let daughters of the kingdom win his bread?

You guys aren’t dealing with the text, either. It specifically mentions the women. It specifically mentions the women supporting Jesus and the Twelve out of their own means. Yet your response is to say, “well, other people must have supported them too, so it doesn’t matter.” Sounds like all that talk about how every word of scripture matters just goes out the window when the Bible isn’t lining up with one of your pet issues.

Well…I did deal with the text…which is also why I didn’t deal with the seminary situation. I mean, I have opinions about that, but stuck to the text since that was the springboard that led to the examples. Again, this text doesn’t address the issue the way I think you’re trying to say it does.

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You never heard me do it. I was never a young seminarian but I went to med school for four years. My wife worked 3 of that - before we had kids - to help pay the bills and keep loans lower. There’s a principle but it applies in different situations differently. If I had been sitting on my duff playing video games while she worked, that would be a problem but that is not what happened, and it is not the picture you have with Jesus either. He was working. He was doing the work of the Kingdom. The women were part of the body and they were doing their part.

The father leads. He sees that the family is provided for. That doesnt mean he does all the bread-winning, and it doesnt mean he does nothing else. What it means is the responsibility rests on him.

I dont know what to say about families that the mother works and father cares for the kids. I know a man who does this and I respect him a lot. He’s great. But it gives me the heeby-jeebies. Part of leading is showing as an example to your sons what their job is. For me, that would be hard if I wasn’t working. But I wouldn’t call it absolutely wrong in every instance.

You dishonor the principle when you try to draw lines everyone has to color in. Every situation is different. We can trust that Jesus did the right thing, even if we don’t know the details.In our own lives we have to work to apply the principle in a way that honors our Lord.

I’ll try to circle back to more of your critiques later.

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