At one time in early biblical history, the writings of the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts were combined. Luke, called the “beloved physician” by Apostle Paul (Colossians 4:14), was one of the most prolific writers of the New Testament. Luke’s record starts with the birth of John the Baptist (in the gospel of Luke) and ends with Paul back in Rome (in the Book of Acts), determined to continue the conversion of the Gentiles into the church of Jesus. In the record of Luke-Acts, we discover fascinating stories of men and women of the early church, who maintained the new faith called Christianity, that would outpace its original roots in Judaism, and usurp the power of the Roman Empire, as well.
The story of Rhoda, the young servant (or slave) of Mary, the mother of John Mark, is embedded within the narrative of Peter and his escape from a Roman jail. This much-preached text is a staple within the Christian church and most believers are familiar with this story. Peter is imprisoned in jail by King Herod, after Herod beheads James (the brother of John). It is obvious from the details of Acts, chapter 12, that King Herod is determined to break the established momentum of “The Way,” the small community of believers who are worshipping Jesus, as Messiah and King. Peter, the leader of the fragile community, has been jailed by Herod, as his life hangs in the balance. Within the tension of the narrative, a young girl named Rhoda becomes a part of the story. At the hand of another writer, Rhoda’s involvement in the events of Peter and the ecclesia (the community of Christian believers) may have been omitted; however, Luke writes more about the stories of women than any of the four evangelists. Rhoda’s story, while brief in length, highlights the importance and the involvement of women in the development of the early Christian community.
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