“On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison. Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.” (Acts 8:1b-4, NIV)
The above paragraph from Acts includes six actions:
• Persecution breaks out. Clearly this persecution was against men and women.
• Believers are scattered. The text says, “all except the apostles” were scattered; which would of course include men and women.
• Stephen is buried. The text clarifies that men did this, perhaps because all other actions in the passage pertain to both men and women.
• Saul begins to destroy the church. Again, men and women.
• Believers are dragged off to prison. Here the text specifies that both men and women were imprisoned.
• Scattered believers preach the word. Given that “all except the apostles” were scattered in verse 1, when verse 4 refers to “those who had been scattered” we have no reason to infer that only men are meant.
This paragraph of Acts is one text that calls into question the oft-heard claim that the New Testament contains no record of women preaching. The verb here is euangelízō, which Luke uses numerous times. In the Gospel of Luke, for example, it describes the preaching of John the Baptist (3:18), of the Twelve (9:6), and of Jesus himself (4:18; 4:43; 7:22; 8:1; 20:1). In Acts the word describes the preaching of the apostles (5:42), Philip (8:12, 35, 40), Peter and John (8:25), Paul and Barnabas (13:32; 14:7, 15, 21; 15:35; 17:18), and others (11:20; 16:10). Indeed, Acts 8:4 testifies to women evangelists in the earliest Church!