Taking A Careful Look At The Ministry Of Women In The New Testament Church (Part Twelve)

It is written:

“Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. 35  And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.” (1 Corinthians 14:34-35)

In these words being spoken by the Apostle, it is important to understand specifically WHO he is addressing.

Some contend that Paul is speaking to all women in every church of Christ throughout the world with these words. However, that fails to take into account the specific wording of this passage.

“Which is the correct interpretation? A closer look at verses 34–35 helps to narrow the options. It is clear Paul is addressing married women. The women creating the disturbance are those who could “ask their own husbands at home” (v. 35). Some claim that “women should remain silent” includes all women (married or otherwise). 108This is not technically correct. The Greek could mean either “wife” or “woman.” Only the context determines which is correct; and here the context explicitly states that these women are married (“ If they want” = the women of v. 34)….These are, rather, married women in the congregation who are asking questions because they want to learn (“ they should ask . . . ” [v. 35]). Their fault was not in the asking per se but in the corporate disorder their asking produced.” (James R. Beck, Two Views Of Women In Ministry, 73-74 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan)

That Paul is addressing certain married women at Corinth, and not all Christian women everywhere under every circumstance, is made clear by several facts.

First, Paul teaches that in the assembly of the saints, women (who were appropriately dressed in regarding to the culture of the day to avoid the appearance of being pagan prostitutes) were allowed to “speak,” “prophesy,” and “pray” (1 Corinthians 11:5). This same pattern follows with this other statements in the New Testament which we have examined up to this point.

Second, the passage clearly affirms that every member of the church in Corinth was involved (appropriately or inappropriately) with the worship and teaching of the congregation, to some degree.

1 Corinthians 14:26-How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.

Third, all Christian women are permitted to “speak” and “teach” when singing hymns together and joining in the congregational “amen” (1 Corinthians 14:15-16; Colossians 3:16-17). Therefore, the context of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 is not intended as a blanket statement of the Apostle, claiming that all women everywhere are forbidden to speak in the worship assembly!

It is clear from the passage and its’ context that Paul is restricting certain women from speaking in a certain way at a specific time and place.

What kind of “speaking” is Paul some of the women in Corinth from doing? Furthermore, what bearing does this have on the work and ministry of women in the church today?

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