Both Joel's prophecy and Peter's description of what was happening indicated women would prophesy when the Holy Spirit was poured out (Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:13-18). Obviously, Peter's quote tells us that the women were included in the event. One might suggest that when this event occurred, the Church was not assembled because the Church didn't begin until the time the Holy Spirit indwelt His disciples. It may be true that when that particular gathering started, the Church had not officially begun, but it is clear the Church existed before the day was over. Those who spoke in the languages of those from other nations, including the women, did in fact prophesy.
Prophecy is the best of the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 14:1). It was given to members of the Church to be used to speak to the congregation (1 Cor. 14:19-24). Paul speaks of men speaking in tongues (v. 21), but we know that women also had that gift. The ability to prophesy, as I have shown above, was also given to both. As for women using the gift in the assembly, the context of the passage gives us two important facts: prophecy is for the benefit of believers, and it is done within the assembly (1 Cor. 14:22-32). Notice in verse twenty-seven that Paul addresses the use of tongues to men. In this same passage, he speaks of all prophesying (1 Cor. 14:24, 26, 31). There is no gender mentioned in connection to the gift of prophecy in the chapter except for a rebuke to men who think they are the only person through whom God speaks (1 Cor. 14:37).
Paul appears to shift gears in the following two verses where he addresses disruptive women in the assembly. He does not rebuke them for speaking in tongues. He does not rebuke them for prophesying. He rebukes them for asking questions (1 Cor. 14:34-35). If we look at the way the Jews held their assemblies, we find that one would read the Scripture and then they would discuss its meaning (Lk. 2:46; 4:16-29). If I understand it correctly, women were encouraged to prophesy, but were forbidden to participate in the discussions. Paul refers to the Law which forbids a woman to speak, but no one has satisfactorily shown an Old Testament reference to match it, and there certainly is none in the New Testament. Again, there is irony that Paul, who vehemently opposed legalism, would refer to the Law to support this prohibition. Speaking of the Old Testament, women did participate in worship (Ex. 15:20-21; 38:8; Deut. 31:12; Josh. 8:35; 1 Sam. 2:22; 1 Chron. 25:5-6; Ezra 2:65; Neh.7:67).
Tomorrow, Lord willing, I will begin discussing the role women played in early Church. Here is a list of the women named in the Gospels prior to the Day of Pentecost: Mary of Nazareth, Elizabeth, Anna, Herodias, Solome, Mary, Martha, Susanna, Johanna, Mary Magdalene, and Mary (wife of Cleopas). There are many mentioned for whom we have no name, including the group of women who ministered to Jesus and His disciples for three years (Mk. 15:41). If one considers the Gospels as a partial biography of the life of Christ, and the male dominated Psyche of the culture at His first coming, it is amazing how many women played a part in His life.