The Missing Women at the Last Supper

Did Jesus only share the Last Supper with his twelve male disciples? This would be unusual when the Passover was an event which included the entire family. We know that the mother of Jesus was present in Jerusalem at the time of the Passover, along with the women who followed Him from Galilee. It would seem almost unthinkable that Jesus would share this special time without his mother and other close disciples.  A closer reading of the text implies the twelve being singled out from the other disciples – it was “one of the twelve” who would betray Jesus – as opposed to one of the others – it was the 12 who arrived with Jesus as opposed to the ‘disciples in general ‘ (including the 12) who prepared the Passover –

“The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.  When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve.  While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me. And they began to be sorrowful, and to say to him, one by one, ‘Is it I?’ and another, ‘Is it I?’ It is one of the Twelve, he replied.”   Mark 14:16-20

The fact that twelve disciples are mentioned does not mean they were the only ones present, rather it seems to be distinguishing them from all the rest – how sad that it would be one of the 12 to betray their Master.

We are often left to fill in the big picture by piecing together the clues. Four Gospels mention the five thousand men who were fed by Jesus. We know from only one of the four  records that an unknown number of women and children were also present.

Were it not for a careful reading of the Gospel of Luke it would be easy to miss the fact that a group of women went with Jesus through all the towns and villages of Israel –

Jesus travelled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women.”  Luke 8:1

There are enough clues in the gospels to put together a more comprehensive picture of Jesus’ ministry than church traditions have left us with.  It not only seems obvious that an unknown number of women and children would have been present in the large upper room at the Last Supper, but there is also good evidence for it.

WHO WAS THE 13th DISCIPLE ?

The gospel of Matthew  mentions a special person the disciples are to find –

“Go into the city to a certain man one and tell him, them ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house with you.”  Matt. 26:18

This should read “toward you, or with you” and no mention of house. The word ‘house’ was added by translators. 

In this passage the phrase ‘certain man’ or ‘certain one’ is deliberately not identifying who the person is. An unidentified person defaults to masculine – thus ‘him’ is better read as ‘them’. At first it’s not clear if  this person is the water carrier or the house owner referred to in the other gospels, or another person entirely.  I believe closer investigation rules out this person as the owner of the house.

The word for ‘certain one’ occurs only once in the New Testament. This is Strong’s definition:

such a one, a certain one, i.e. one whose name I cannot call on the instant, or whose name it is of no importance to mention.

Yet it’s a derivative of the  Greek word for suffering – δεῖνα. A close derivative of the same word appears in the Greek Septuagint of the Old Testament describing the awful suffering of Job.

The disciples are to give this deliberately unidentified person the message that “my appointed time is near – with you I will keep the Passover”.

This is a very cryptic message. There is far more to it than appears on the surface.  It’s not about the person, but their special mission (involving suffering).  A prominent message of the Gospels is that it’s not about who we are but what we are – we are to lose our identity. John the Baptist was ‘a voice in the wilderness’. The writer of the  4th Gospel was a ‘Beloved Disciple’ and never identified as John (except by later Church traditions).

A MESSAGE FOR HIS MOTHER?

Who would this statement be most relevant to? Surely it would be to Jesus’ mother. At the wedding in Cana Jesus said to her

“Woman, what have I to do with you, my hour has not yet come”.

How appropriate to tell her now– this is it – now is the time – “my appointed time is near” – now I have everything to do with you – this is the time we both complete our missions – the Woman who would have the chosen seed, and her Son – and a sword was to pass through Mary’s soul also.
The rest of Jesus’ message was that He would celebrate the Passover with this person.

The phrase “at your house” in Matthew is not correct. The word ‘house’ does not appear in the original Greek in the  account. It would be more correct to say

“I will keep the feast of the Passover at your house with you or “toward you” with my disciples”.

Youngs Literal Translation reads – “Go away to the city, to such a one, and say to him, The Teacher says, My time is nigh; near you I keep the Passover, with my disciples”.

WATER TO WINE – THE BOOKENDS OF JESUS’ MINISTRY

In Luke 22:10 the unidentified ‘person’ carrying a pitcher of water may likewise have defaulted to masculine – there was no word for ‘person’ in Koine Greek. Perhaps the point wasn’t ‘a man carrying water’ but a reminder that there was water used for Passover purification and it would soon be turned to the blood of Christ –  harking back to Jesus first miracle when the jars of water used for purification at the wedding in Cana became wine  (when Jesus said ‘Woman what have I to do with you’).

The Passover sacrifice was to be the culmination of Jesus ministry – water into wine – the old purification ceremonies no longer needed – His  blood would cleanse sinners, not water and animal offerings.

It was Jesus mother who prompted the first miracle of water to wine – it would seem fitting that she would be at the Passover when He shared the wine as the symbol of this – the two events being the bookends of His ministry and both pointing to the future wedding of the ages when Jesus will taste the fruit of the vine with all His disciples. All the males disciples (including John) forsook Jesus and fled. But Mary shared the entire Passover with her Son and remained at the foot of the cross while a sword passed through her own soul as well. Some of Jesus final words were addressed to His mother “Woman, behold your Son”. (See ‘Under the Banner of Love’)

AT LEAST 13 DISCIPLES WITH JESUS

The Matthew account clearly shows that there was an ‘extra’ person at the Passover, there were not just the 12. It would seem right that Jesus told His mother his hour was near and He would share this Passover with her, she was part of the destiny – the Woman and the Son together.

Witness of Women Rejected
The witness of women was often left out of the records and rejected by the male disciples. The classic example is Mary Magdalene – Jesus later rebuked the  11 Disciples (including John and Peter) for rejecting her witness –

Mark 16:9 When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene…She went and told those who had been with him…Yet, when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe

… v 14 Finally he appeared to his eleven disciples while they were eating. He rebuked them for their unbelief and stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.

It’s interesting that the Gospel of Mark records a sharp rebuke as the first words of Jesus to his 11 Disciples after His resurrection. I wonder if He will likewise rebuke those who silenced women and their witness when He returns.

In a patriarchal society it was the witness of men which mattered – and even the early Disciples seemed to place more importance on it.  Just because the Bible records the witness of men over women doesn’t mean that God endorses it – indeed He says He doesn’t

“To all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” John 1:12-13

Many things in the Bible need to be compared for the fuller picture, as Jesus said “It is also written” – See – How is the Bible Inspired

Witness of Men Accepted

The Gospel of Luke and even Paul, testify to the witness of Simon over Mary –

Luke 24:34 “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.”

1 Cor 15:3-5 “What I received I passed on to you as of first importance : that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.” – Interestingly no mention of Mary Magdalene as the first to witness His resurrection.  But God wants us to go beyond the isolation of texts and see the big picture – to compare scripture with scripture to see things as He does, not as man does.

spot the difference

The writer of the 4th Gospel – identified as the ‘Beloved Disciple’ (not John) endorses that in Christ it is discipleship which matters, not the testimony of men. That is why the 4th Gospel was written from the perspective of ‘A Beloved Disciple’ – so that we can all understand how to put ourselves last, lose our own identity and put on Jesus, thus becoming Beloved Disciples.

WHO WAS AT THE CROSS?

In Comparing the 4 Gospel Records prior to Jesus crucifixion, we see that 3 of them tell us that the disciples all fled. The 4th Gospel alone does not say this – it considers women to be reliable witnesses and makes the point that all who are born again are Jesus disciples. It seems that the anonymous disciples in the 4th Gospel were women, for example the one who was with Peter who was known to the High Priest. It is absurd to think this was John and not mentioned in the other gospels.

MATTHEW – Then all the disciples deserted Him and fled. Matt. 26:56

MARK – Then everyone deserted Him and fled. Mark 14:50

LUKE – Then they seized Jesus, led Him away, and took Him into the house of the high priest. And Peter followed at a distance. Luke 22:54….v62 And he went outside and away and wept bitterly.

JOHN – Now Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. John 18:15

The 4th gospel does not record all the disciples going away, because it considers women to be disciples also. The other disciple with Peter known to the High Priest was most likely Joanna – See Case for Manaen as the Author of Luke – Acts

 – MALE BY DEFAULT

When speaking of a man – the Greek always uses masculine gender.
When speaking of a woman – the Greek always use feminine gender.
BUT –
When speaking of a group of men and women – it always defaults to masculine gender, although there are men and women there.

Rom 16:7 “Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.”

The ‘who’ and ‘apostles’ are masculine, and yet they relate to a man and a woman.

MORE TO THE POINT –

When a person is not identified by being male or female –
it defaults to the masculine gender – but they may in fact be female.
The male gender is the default gender in Koine Greek.

Matt 10:24 “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.”

Here, ‘disciple’ is singular, but may be either male or female, but ‘disciple’ is the default masculine (as is the ‘his’).

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Rev 3:20

This passage plainly refers to one person who may be male or female (unless women are excluded from the kingdom) but it’s all in masculine gender.

SO

If the unknown disciple is not identified from the perspective of a female, but is spoken of in the third person from the perspective of an unidentified witness or disciple – The text would default to masculine gender everywhere.
The beloved disciple wrote the fourth gospel in the third person as a narrator. To be identified as “the beloved disciple” – is to be unidentified as to whether you are male or female, thus the default to masculine gender. There were only 3 women at the foot of the cross – one was the Beloved Disciple.  See Under the Banner of Love

Click here for LINKS  to ARTICLES,  YOUTUBES and Book on  Silencing  Women

About alsowritten

Another voice in the wilderness
This entry was posted in Beloved Disciple, Last Supper, Miscellaneous, Myth Busting, Silencing of Women and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to The Missing Women at the Last Supper

  1. Hannah Gaston says:

    Interesting, but I had understood before that the disciples were to look out for a man carrying a water pitcher as usually women were the water carriers , not men so a man carrying a pitcher would be unusual and thus would be recognized as “the one”. Otherwise I agree that the women aren’t always mentioned when they were obviously there .

    • alsowritten says:

      Yes, that’s the standard theory. But if it was an unidentified ‘person’ carrying a pitcher of water it would default to ‘man’. Perhaps the point wasn’t ‘a man carrying water’ but that the water used for Passover purification would soon be turned to the blood of Christ – sort of a harking back to Jesus first miracle when the jars of water used for purification at the wedding in Cana became wine – this was to be the culmination of Jesus ministry – water into wine – His blood. I’ll include this in the article… thanks Hannah for your thoughts.

  2. Laura Gagnon says:

    I SO appreciate this essay. I’ve been struggling with this issue of women’s ordiation for so long . This has given me a glimmer of hope seeing that there are cracks in the wall where the sun is shining through.

  3. Pingback: Re-Thinking How We Read the Old Testament | alsowritten – Robin's Blog

  4. D. E. Franklin says:

    I am really glad to have found your blog, Robin. I’ve been a “christian” for much of my 37 years, but I was only born again on my 37th birthday. Within not much more than a month, the Spirit has dismantled the thinking and theology fed into me by “churches”. It’s wonderful being in communion with my Saviour, and I don’t feel lonely. But I do feel cut off from fellowship with people: what fellowship can light have with darkness? Here I feel at home, and your repeated emphasis on losing ourselves and who we are, in the purpose to which we are called, resonates. Thank you!

    • alsowritten says:

      Am glad you found some encouragement – and can see the message that many miss. You summed it up well, we “lose ourselves in the purpose to which we are called”. God bless you

  5. Pingback: How is the Bible Inspired? | alsowritten – Robin's Blog

  6. Pingback: Under The Banner of Love – Mary Magdalene Author of the Fourth Gospel | alsowritten – Robin Jones' Blog

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