What biblical foundation does this have?
It may be based on the Jewish family rituals of Shabbat and Passover, where the male head of the house lead the family in prayer.
However, the New Covenant was ushered in when Jesus died on the cross. The apostles had run away except for John, the youngest, who was standing with Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
Therefore the soldiers did these things. But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He *said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” John 19:25-26 (NASB)
It was the women who returned to the tomb of Jesus on Sunday morning to embalm His body.
- It was the priests who were responsible for the sacrifices under the Old Covenant.
The priestly function of women is clearly demonstrated even before the cross.
Mary (the sister of Martha and Lazarus) therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. John 12:3 (ESV)
When Judas objected, Jesus defended her.
But Jesus said, Let her alone. It was [intended] that she should keep it for the time of My preparation for burial. [She has kept it that she might have it for the time of My embalming.] John 12:7 (AMP)
Under the Old Covenant, it was the High Priest who sacrificed the unblemished male lamb for the sins of Israel at Yom Kipur (The Day of Atonement) every year.
- He entered into the Holy of Holies and killed the lamb.
- Then he would come out to tell the people that God had accepted the sacrifice.
To whom did God give this office, to announce that God had accepted the sacrifice of His Son for our sins?
- Certainly it was the Apostle Peter who preached on the Day of Pentecost but this was a prophetic office.
When He returned alive from the tomb, Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene. Two angels appeared to her and then she saw Jesus Himself.
John 20:15-18 (NASB)
15 Jesus *said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she *said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”
16 Jesus *said to her, “Mary!” She turned and *said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher).
17 Jesus *said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'”
18 Mary Magdalene *came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her.
- It was the women who were given the high priestly privilege of being the first to announce that God had raised The Lamb of God from the tomb.
Sadly, the Apostles did not take the women seriously, just as many ordained men today dismiss revelations given to women who live close to God.
- Jesus was not impressed.
Afterward He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table; and He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen. Mark 16:14 (NASB)
- In the Old Testament, only men were priests but Jesus died and rose again as our Lamb of God to restore men and women to the high calling that God intends us all to enter into.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light. 1 Peter 2:9 (HCSB)
The ROYAL PRIESTHOOD of the New Testament includes all believers, not just ordained preachers and it also clearly includes women.