What are we to make of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 where Paul says, “Women should remain silent in the churches.”?
Did he mean it the way we hear it?
The first question we need to answer is: Was this a regulation for all of Christ's churches everywhere and for all time? The clear answer from scripture is, "No." At the end of the gospels God chose women to be the first evangelists and to preach to the disciples that Jesus was alive. In Acts 2 we are told the Spirit of God fell on "men and women....sons and daughters" and that both genders would prophesy. To prophesy means to preach and proclaim God's will with authority. In Romans 16:7 we learn that there is a female apostle (yes you read that correctly) named, Junia (a Greek feminine name for which there is no masculine equivalent). Apostle was the highest office of authority in the early church. The evidence from God’s word is clear, woman have God’s permission to preach in church.
The second question we should answer is: Was the prohibition against women speaking in church applied only to the Corinthian church? Again the clear answer from Paul's own letter to the Corinthian church is, "No." At the end of chapter 14 in verse 39 Paul encourages both men and women to be eager to prophesy. In 1 Corinthians 11:5 Paul explains that women should cover their heads when praying and prophesying in a worship service (I believe the issue here is the beauty/glory of a women distracting from the glory of God). In First Corinthians Paul actually encourages women to prophesy in church. He wants them to speak.
Now the obvious question is: What did Paul really mean in 14:34-35? The key to understanding is to recognize that Paul was condemning a particular kind of speech, namely, inquiry. In verse 35 we learn the women were disruptively asking questions and it was interfering with the worship service. We don't know what their questions were or why they were disruptive, but we do know they were distracting people from worshipping and hearing God's word. We have a clue to the nature of these questions in verse 37. They had something to do with assuming the authority of a prophet. One possible explanation is that these women were once prophetesses in a pagan religion and were questioning Christ's prophets or had questions that were better addressed in the privacy of their own homes (v. 35).
Here is what we can be sure of from Scripture: Both men and women have been gifted and authorized to preach and teach and must do so orderly and in be in agreement with God’s word (1 Timothy 1:3-4).
Hope this helps you understand the Bible.
I can plod. I can persevere in any definite pursuit. To this I owe everything.
- William Carey
My name is Tim Kirkes. I am honored to be the a child of my heavenly Father, the husband of Lisa, the father of two boys and the pastor of San Dimas Wesleyan church.