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The Roman woman who instructed her husband in the Faith

This week I read the apocryphal Acts of Peter which was written sometime around 150–200.[1] Here are a couple of lines that caught my attention.

When Paul was in Rome confirming many in the faith, it also happened that a certain woman named Candida, wife of Quartus the prison warder, heard Paul and listened to his words and became a believer. And when she had instructed her husband he became a believer.[2]

The Acts of Peter is most likely a work of fiction, or heavily laced with fiction. Eusebius considered it spurious.[3] Nevertheless, the sentences I’ve quoted tell of a situation that has occurred countless times in the last two millennia: that of a woman telling her husband or another male relative about Jesus, and leading him to saving faith in the Lord Jesus.[4]

And it is still happening.

Not too long ago one of our male pastors simply stated one Sunday that his girlfriend (now wife of 30+ years) had led him to Christ. Perhaps we all know of similar stories.

How does this scenario of a woman leading a man to Christ square with complementarians and patriarchalists who frown on a woman teaching and leading a man, especially on matters of vital theological significance? (Cf. 1 Timothy 2:12)

I imagine that while some Christians are frowning over such ministry from a woman, the angels are rejoicing (Luke 15:7, 10). Here’s to more rejoicing over the ministry of women and its results.


[1] I read the version translated into English from the Latin Codex Vercellensis. Codex Vercellensis is the earliest manuscript of the Gospels in Latin. It also contains many of the apocryphal Acts of the apostles (sometimes called the Vercelli Acts). Scholars such as Peter Head date the Codex to the early or middle of the fourth century. A tradition states that Eusebius, the bishop of Vercelli (in northern Italy), oversaw the writing of the manuscript. And he died in August, 371.

J.K. Elliot writes about the extant manuscripts of the Acts of Peter, and gives the Codex Vercellensis a later date.

The original Greek of the Acts of Peter has survived only in the [account of Peter’s] Martyrdom, and in a small Oxyrhynchus fragment (P. Oxy 849) outside of the Martyrdom [account]. There is, however, a long Latin text found in the Vercelli manuscript which contains some of the Acts of Peter. This Latin manuscript (Codex Vercellensis 158) dates from the sixth-seventh century, but its text is likely to be a fourth-fifth century translation of the original Greek Acts. . . Vercelli [sections] 1–3 could have been added to the original Acts by the writer of the Greek underlying the Vercelli manuscript . . .
J.K. Elliot, The Apocryphal New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon, 1993), 391.

[2] Section 1, “Acts of Peter,” translated by J.K. Elliot, in The Apocryphal New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon, 1993), 399.

[3] In Book 3 of his Ecclesiastical History, Eusebius (bishop of Caesarea and church historian) mentions the apocryphal writings that are concerned with the apostle Peter.

The so-called Acts of Peter, however, and the Gospel which bears his name, and the Preaching and the Apocalypse, as they are called, we know have not been universally accepted, because no ecclesiastical writer, ancient or modern, has made use of testimonies drawn from them. (E.H.3.3.2)

The Acts of Peter can be read in English on the Early Christian Writings website.

[4] Henry Chadwick writes about the appeal of Christianity to Roman women.

Christianity seems to have been especially successful among women. It was often through the wives that it penetrated the upper classes of society in the first instance. Christians believed in the equality of men and women before God and found in the New Testament commands that husbands should treat their wives with such consideration and love as Christ manifested for his Church. Christian teaching about the sanctity of marriage offered a powerful safeguard to married women
Chadwick, The Early Church (Penguin), 58–59.

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Explore more

Theonoe and Myrte: Prophetesses in Corinth 
The Church at Smyrna and her Women
“Kyria” in Papyrus Letters and the Elect Lady
Eusebius and Letter Writing in the Early Church
Various articles on 1 Timothy 2:12 are here.

4 thoughts on “The Roman woman who instructed her husband in the Faith

  1. Hi Tammy,

    I wish all Christians realised that women are just as much a part of the body of Christ as men are. Women, just like men, should be full participants in all aspects of church life, and function as fully as their individual gifts and abilities allow.

  2. “Women, just like men, should be full participants in all aspects of church life, and function as fully as their individual gifts and abilities allow.”

    Should…alas. But. Would that men were no respecters of persons in response to the God they claim to follow.

  3. Hi My name is Matthew. I have just stumbled upon your website. Some very good reading. I do believe in the equality of women and men in the sight of God and that we are one in spirit. I do not believe that I am a legalist. I do listen to some good woman teachers and preachers and Katherine Kuhlman was partly instrumental in bringing me to Jesus. I have had many a discussion with men and women about this subject. I have read the books that have been given to me and still can’t justify the reason or why this conclusion. The reason that men are the head of the home and the church is because God is a God of order it really does explain it really well in Ephesians chapter 5 verses 21-33. I know that all men and women are not perfect but if we follow God and His will. JESUS said not my will but your will be done. There are many other scriptures but we need not go into them. If the Lord want’s women to teach or preach then I am sure that He has a reason for it. If a woman is leading in the home there should be a very good reason for that. That is through his bad health or lack of wanting to, which is often the case. Or they are unequally yoked. I hope that I do not offend anyone but that is how I see this in scripture. I could go on but many of you may have fallen asleep by now. Yours sincerely Matthew Campbell. From Australia. ..

    1. Hi Matthew, I’m also Australian. 🙂

      Ephesians 5:23 doesn’t actually say the husband is the head of the home. Rather children are told to obey their parents, father and mother (Eph. 6:1).

      And no scripture says a man, other than Jesus, is the head of the church.

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