1Co 14:33b-35 As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.In verse 34, Paul used the word σιγατωσαν which is translated "keep silent", "be silent" "remain silent" and similarly in the various translations. From Thayer's Greek Definitions:
σιγατωσανThis is the same word used a few verses earlier teaching that, if an interpreter is not present, the tongue-speaker should keep quiet. The general idea is that they may have something to say, but they should keep it to themselves. Just as in the case of the tongue-speakers, it did not imply that they were prohibited from singing or speaking to individuals in fellowship. It only prohibited their publicly addressing the congregation.
1) to keep silence, hold one’s peace
2) to be kept in silence, be concealed
λαλεινAnd to further deter any argument, Paul said that the women were not even permitted to ask a question in the assembly. If they had a question, they should ask their husbands at home.
1) to utter a voice or emit a sound
2) to speak
2a) to use the tongue or the faculty of speech
2b) to utter articulate sounds
3) to talk
4) to utter, tell
5) to use words in order to declare one’s mind and disclose one’s thoughts
5a) to speak
1Ti 2:11-14 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.Paul provided Timothy with the justification for the teaching. It was based on the order of creation, and the facts surrounding the fall from Eden. Neither reason was specific to the culture of a particular church. Neither reason has ceased to be valid today.
1Co 14:36 Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached?Of course the answer to both questions was "No!" Yet the Corinthians were so presumptuous that they took upon themselves the right to ignore this teaching in their assemblies. They were introducing customs that were foreign to the other churches, and contrary to what they had been taught. They were violating the order Paul had set in place only few years earlier when he had established the church in Corinth.
1Co 14:38 If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored.Paul clearly recognized that this teaching would face opposition. Some people would not like what he was saying. But despite the unpopularity of the teaching, Paul insisted on the silence of women in the assembly. And he left no doubt: this command was not Paul's idea. It came from God himself.
1) Some people hold that Paul was just wrong in saying these things. In effect they are saying that Paul's first letter to the Corinthians is not inspired scripture. One variant on this is advanced by Gordon Fee in his commentary. He holds that 1 Cor 14:34-35 are not inspired scripture, but were added later. We have absolutely no evidence that this is the case. The verses appear in every existing manuscript. The fact that Fee found it necessary to exclude these verses to support his position speaks volumes. A scholar like Fee could not find a way to reconcile these verses with the practice of permitting women to speak in the church. For more on the disputed verses, see the excellent translation notes on the subject in the NET Bible.Is there any command of scripture given to the church in more emphatic terms than those on head coverings and silence of women? The Corinthian church must have been much like the church today. Many in the church did not want to comply with this teaching. The Holy Spirit anticipated that resistance, and supplied some of the clearest and strongest language in scripture to emphasize the point. Whether we like it or not, this is the command of God.
If we were to accept that some of the scriptures we have are not inspired, we would be opening Pandora's Box. We would then be in a position where mortal men would have to decide which scriptures are from God and which are not.
2) Some people hold that Paul's teachings applied only to Corinth, due to specific things that were going on in that church. But Paul clearly stated that this was the practice in all the churches. And in 1 Tim 2:11-14 he provided the reasons for the teaching--reasons that were equally true in every church in that day, and in every church today. Those reasons have not changed in nearly 2000 years, and will not change if Jesus delays another 2000 years.
3) Some people attempt to refute the teaching using Gal 3:28
Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Of course that scripture is not addressing the role of women in the worship service. It is addressing our oneness in Christ. Men and women are one in Christ -- parts of the same body, but with different roles. Just as Paul had specific instructions for slaves, and different instructions for their masters, Paul also had different instructions for men and women. Gal 3:28 does not refute the New Testament teachings in many places about the roles of men and women. It must be understood in the context of those other teachings, which are also the inspired word of God.
4) Some people point to the teaching on head coverings in 1 Cor 11 as evidence that women were allowed to speak in the assembly in Corinth. However, as previously mentioned, that passage was not addressing the assembly. Paul did not open up the discussion of the assembly until 1 Cor 11:17, which is the first mention of the assembly in the entire letter. The discussion of head coverings precedes the discussion of the assembly. So, it is true that Christian women in Corinth prayed and even prophesied. But they were prohibited from doing so in the assembly, based on 1 Cor 14:34-35.
It is interesting to note the inconsistency of those who teach, based on 1 Cor 11, that women can speak in the assembly--since (in my experience) they universally do not require the woman to wear a head covering when she speaks.
Labels: First Corinthians