7 Women and the secret of their greatness: Eric Metaxas

I’ve really been enjoying reading ‘7 women, and the secret of their greatness’, but I have to admit, the subtitle of this book (‘and the secret of their greatness’) put me off at first. I was worried the book would focus only on the worldly successes of these women which led to their ‘greatness’. But since reading the book, this misconception was unfounded. Metaxas revealshow these Seven women all lived with courage and humility often in the face of incredible suffering and opposition. Metaxas shows the secret of these women’s greatness lies in their Christ-like humility and that by reading their stories from the past, we can be encouraged to live for Christ in our time and culture.

The book is more of an historical account of their lives rather than an in depth theological reflection on them. That being said, it’s hard to read these stories and not be challenged and encouraged by their life and boldness for living as a Christian in their time.

Previously I have read Metaxas’ biography of Bonhoeffer and really enjoyed his style and the way he is able to transport you to another time and life beyond your own. He does this again in 7 Women. I found myself enthralled by the stories of these women and many nights stayed up reading much later than was sensible! I was humbled reading of their actions in spite of great hardships, and even death for some. It’s made me stop and reflect upon my own actions given the culture I live in. How am I serving Christ and living for him? Have I been taken in by my culture rather than standing out from it? How will I serve Christ in this time, where he has placed me?

The 7 women who feature in the book are Joan of Arc, Susanna Wesley, Hannah More, Saint Maria of Paris, Corrie Ten Boom, Rosa Parks and Mother Teresa. Initially I was intrigued by his choice but Metaxas explains his reasons by saying:

 “I see that most of them were great for reasons that derive precisely from them being women, not in spite of it; and what made them great has nothing to do with them being measured against or competing with men”.

Metaxas wants to tell the stories of women who are ‘great’, not because of what they did in comparison to men, but because they used their uniqueness as women to bring God’s love and compassion to those around them. He explains how they all had a huge impact in shaping the world we live in today, such as Hannah More who was integral in the abolition of slavery, Susanna Wesley in the education of children and the poor, and Saint Maria who helped save many Jews during the holocaust.

These women and their example of faith remind me of Hebrews 10:36-39:

“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.  For,

“In just a little while,

    he who is coming will come

    and will not delay.”


“But my righteous one will live by faith.

    And I take no pleasure

    in the one who shrinks back.”

 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

The women I’ve met in this book are incredible examples of living out their faith for Christ and not shrinking back.

In the following two posts I'll talk in more detail about these ‘great’ women who served a great God.

Writer | Stephanie Philpott Stephanie lives in South West Sydney with her husband who serves as an Assistant minister, and their 3 school aged children. She enjoys sleeping in, teaching the Bible to kids, and this year is living the dream of going to cafes kid-free!