Learning to thrive in the new life Jesus offers us – 2 Corinthians 5:16-17

Interpretations and Applications of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35

Interpretations and Applications of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35

The women [or wives] are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject [or control] themselves, just as the law also says. If they want to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.  1 Corinthians 14:34-35  

Several New Testament passages are regarded as critical in the current debate about the roles of women in the church. 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 is one of these passages.[2] Throughout the Church’s history, many explanations have been offered by biblical scholars about how 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 is to be interpreted and applied. The purpose of this article is to present brief summaries of some of these interpretations by a few well-known classical and contemporary scholars, and attempt to determine what 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 might mean and how it might be applied in contemporary church life.

 Women must be Completely Silent during Church Meetings

At first glance, 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 seems clear: women are not permitted to talk in congregational meetings and must be silent. This is the stance that many have taken throughout much of the Church’s history.

From Tertullian[3] to Thomas Aquinas[4], commentators concluded that women could not even sing or pray audibly among men. Although the Reformers relaxed some of these restrictions, as late as the 1890s certain Presbyterians still forbade women’s singing in the context of church worship. (Grenz 1995:121) 

Silence is called for three times in 1 Corinthians 14: in verses 28, 30 and 34.[5] In 1 Corinthians 14:28 and 30, silence is called for in specific situations to regulate congregational contributions to the meetings. (The “silence” in verses 28 and 30 is not gender specific.) It is very likely that the silence called for in verse 34 is also addressing a specific situation and is not meant to be a blanket statement to silence all women for all time in church meetings.

In fact, Paul’s intention could not have been to silence women at all the times during church meetings. In 1 Corinthians 11:5 Paul acknowledges, without disapproval, that women prophesied and prayed aloud in church.

Paul not only approved of praying and prophesying by women in the assembly but he encouraged it! Reading 1 Corinthians 11:10 with the literal, active voice (“has authority”) instead of the presumed, passive voice (“sign of authority”), Paul states that a woman has authority[6] (has the right!) to pray and prophesy . . .  (Hicks  1990) 

If Paul condones verbal ministry from women in chapter 11 it is very unlikely that he censures it in chapter 14. Paul was probably prohibiting a certain form of speech from the women in 14:34-35. Several theologians have tried to identify the type of speech that Paul appears to be disallowing.

Women must not Engage in Idle Chatter in Church Meetings

In his Homily 9 on First Timothy, Early Church Father John Chrysostom refers to 1 Corinthians 14:34-35. Here he wrote that the Corinthian women regarded congregational meetings as an opportunity for socialising and recreation. He observed that they chatted more during church gatherings then they did in the marketplace or the public bath. Chrysostom wrote that this idle conversation brought confusion into church meetings.

Chrysostom[7] and many others believe that the instructions in verses 34-35 were designed to prohibit nuisance chatter from the women. To support this understanding, some people have interpreted the Greek word laleō, used in both verse 34 and 35, to mean “chatter” or “babbling”. Laleō, however, is a very common word in the New Testament which simply means “speak”. Moreover, in the immediate context of verses 34-35, Paul used the word laleō three times to refer to the speaking ministries of tongues and prophecy, and not to chatter (1 Cor. 14:27-29).

If the intent of verses 34-35 was to silence women who were disrupting congregational meetings with inconsiderate chatter, then these verses cannot be used to silence women who have a valid speaking ministry.[8]

Women must not Disrupt Church Meetings with Rudimentary Questions

1 Corinthians 14:35 begins with, “But if they [the women] wish ‘to learn’ (Greek-mathein) . . .”  Craig S. Keener, who takes into consideration the culture of learning in the first-century, believes that the problem being addressed in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 was that women were interrupting the flow of congregational meetings by asking too many rudimentary questions. He writes, “Throughout the first-century Mediterranean world, novices were expected to learn quietly, but more advanced students were expected to interrupt all kinds of public lectures with questions.” (Keener 2001:50) Keener believes that the Corinthian women may not have realised that interrupting the meetings with their very basic questions was culturally inappropriate, even shameful. According to Keener’s explanation, 14:34-35 was not aimed at silencing women with valid speaking ministries, but was intended to silence inappropriate, ignorant questions posed by uneducated women.

Today, in most churches in the western world, spontaneous questions from the congregation are dissuaded, and women are mostly well-educated, so if Keener’s explanation is correct, 14:34-35 has little application in contemporary church life.

It is difficult to see how verses 36-37 follows on from the idea of ignorant, nuisance questions from women, unless the women were monopolising the meetings with their questions and were behaving arrogantly. Verse 38, on the other hand, seems to fit very well with the idea of ignorant people with ignorant questions.

But if anyone ignores this [or, is ignorant][9], they themselves will be ignored. 1 Corinthians 14:38 (NIV 2011)

Keener’s interpretation is plausible, especially as the idea of ignorance is emphasised in verse 38. A popular view, somewhat similar to Keener’s explanation, is that men and women were segregated in the Corinthian church that met in a synagogue; and that women were calling out questions to their husbands, seated some distance away, thus disturbing the meeting. However, there is no historical or archaeological evidence that supports the idea that men and women were segregated in church (or synagogue meetings) at that time. Moreover, while the Corinthian church started in a synagogue (Acts 18:4), at the time of Paul’s letter, the church met in homes (Acts 18:7). (Keener 2004:161)

Women must not Evaluate Prophecy Audibly

1 Corinthians chapter 14 is largely advice concerned with the regulation of prophecy in church meetings. In 14:29 Paul wrote, “Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said.” With this context in mind, Wayne Grudem proposes that Paul’s intent in 14:34-35 is to silence women from evaluating prophecy.

On this view, Paul would be saying, “Let the others [that is the rest of the congregation] weigh what is said [by the prophets . . . but] the women should keep silence in the churches.” In other words, women could not give spoken criticisms of the prophecies . . . (Grudem 1988:220-221) (Grudem’s use of square brackets)

Grudem goes on to say that women may evaluate prophecy silently in their own mind, but cannot voice these evaluations audibly.

Grudem acknowledges that Paul allows women to pray, speak in tongues, and prophecy aloud in church meetings; yet he maintains that women may not minister in any way that can be construed as exercising spiritual authority.[10] Prophecy is arguably a very influential ministry which can carry a great deal of spiritual authority. Significantly, Paul lists the ministry of prophecy before the ministry of teaching in the lists of ministries in 1 Corinthians 12:28 and in Ephesians 4:11 (cf. Eph. 2:20a; 3:5b). It is unclear why Grudem considers the ministry of prophecy to lack spiritual authority. Wayne Grudem is well-known for espousing a hierarchical complementarian ideology.[11] It seems Grudem has allowed his complementarian views to influence his assumption that the ministry of prophecy lacks spiritual authority simply because the scriptures show that prophecy is a ministry open to women.[12]

While Grudem claims his position is consistent with the context of Chapter 14, it is difficult to see how verse 36 fits with his view. The subject shifts suddenly from instructions about women (in verses 34-35), to a reprimand to a group which includes men or consists only of men, in verse 36. (More on this below.) Grudem’s view is not as neat as he claims it to be.

Women must not ask Personal Questions of the Prophets

Ben Witherington takes into account the broader Corinthian culture in trying to determine the meaning of 14:34-35. Witherington believes it is very likely that the Christians in Corinth, in particular, those with pagan backgrounds, had incorporated inappropriate pagan worship practices into Christian worship. (Witherington 1995:274 cf. Keener 1992:78; Kroeger 1978) 

Since the sixth-century BC, Corinth was very well-known for the oracle at Delphi. In the Temple of Apollos at Delphi, a prophetess called the Pythia[13] would respond to questions asked from inquirers.[14] In ancient times, people travelled great distances to visit Corinth and ask the Pythia questions.[15] Ben Witherington (1995:287) suggests this following context for 14:34-35:

It is very believable that these women [in the Corinthian church] assumed that Christian prophets or prophetesses functioned much like the oracle at Delphi, who only prophesied in response to questions, including questions about purely personal matters. Paul argues that Christian prophecy is different: Prophets and prophetesses speak in response to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, without any human priming of the pump. Paul then limits such questions to another location, namely home.

By mistaking the true function of prophets, the women were hampering the real ministry of Christian prophecy and may have been asking questions about mundane, domestic concerns that would not have interested others.[16] If Witherington’s suggestion is correct, and Paul sought to silence the women from asking personal questions of the prophets then, again, 14:34-35 cannot be used to silence gifted women with a valid speaking ministry.

1 Corinthians 14:34-35 is a Quote

While many of the theologians mentioned thus far have tried to determine the meaning of 14:34-35 by exploring the broader sociological context of the first-century Corinthian church, other theologians have explored the textual evidence of 14:34-35 in trying to determine how to interpret and apply these verses.

First Corinthians was written in response to a verbal report from Chloe’s people (1 Cor. 1:11), and in response to a letter Paul had received from the Corinthians asking his advice (1 Cor. 7:1).[17] At times it is evident in his letter that Paul is quoting from the Corinthian’s letter as he deals with its contents. Some of these quotes include, “It is not good for a man to touch a woman” (1 Cor. 7:1); “We all possess knowledge” (1 Cor. 8:1); “There is no resurrection” and “Christ has not been raised” (1 Cor. 15:12, 14). Some scholars believe that 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 may also be a quote. This would account for the way it does not seem to fit with what Paul is saying in the surrounding verses.

1 Corinthians 1:10ff tells us that there were competing factions in the Corinthian church (cf. 1 Cor. 11:18-19). It is possible that one of these factions was trying to silence women in church meetings. This would have been a real concern for Chloe! Perhaps Paul quotes the faction’s injunction for women to be silent in 14:34-35, and then reprimands the faction (which includes men) with, “Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only ones it has reached?” (1 Cor. 14:36, NRSV, my italics). The Greek adjective monous, which occurs in verse 36 and is translated as “only ones” in the NRSV, is grammatically masculine. According to Greek grammar, this adjective cannot refer only to women. The masculine gender in verse 36 does not seem to follow logically after 14:34-35 and its instructions to women. (Flanagan 1981) 

The view that 14:34-35 is a non-Pauline quote is one of the few which offers a plausible explanation for the jarring change of tone which verses 34-35 bring into the text, and the subsequent abrupt change of topic, tone and gender in verse 36. If this explanation is the correct one, then Paul is not silencing women in 14:34-35. Rather, Paul quotes and then rebukes the people who are trying to silence the women.

1 Corinthians 14:34-35 is an Interpolation [18]

As noted, verses 34-35 sit uncomfortably within 1 Corinthians 14, both grammatically and hermeneutically. In fact, if you skip over verses 33b-35, and go straight from verse 33a to verse 36, the passage flows and makes good sense. Furthermore, because of the existence of textual variations involving verses 34-35 in several early manuscripts of 1 Corinthians, some scholars, notably Gordon D. Fee and Philip B. Payne, suggest that 14:34-35 may have been inserted into the text of Paul’s letter by an unknown author at a very early date.[19]

In several early (mostly Western) texts of 1 Corinthians 14, verses 34-35 are located after verse 40. Metzger (1994:499) offers an explanation for the different location of these verses and suggests, “Such scribal alterations represent attempts to find a more appropriate location in the context for Paul’s directive concerning women.”

The sixth-century Codex Fuldensis is especially ambiguous in its treatment of verses 34-35.

The Latin text of 1 Corinthians 14 runs onward throughout the chapter to ver. 40. Following ver. 33 is a scribal siglum that directs the reader to a note standing in the margin of the page. This note provides the text of verses 36 through 40. [But omits verses 34-35.] Does the scribe, without actually deleting verses 34-35 from the [main] text, intend the liturgist to omit them when reading the lesson? (Metzger 1994:499)  [My square brackets.]

These textual variations, plus others,[20] suggests that 34-35 may not be original. If 14:34-35 is a non-Pauline interpolation, then the scriptural authority of this verse is dubious, and its use to silence women is questionable.

“Women are to subject themselves, just as ‘the Law’ also says.”

Apart from the uncertainty as to what sort of speech is being prohibited, another significant problem with understanding the intent of 14:34-35 is knowing what is meant by the “law” (nomos) mentioned in verse 34. Nowhere in the Hebrew Bible, referred to in the New Testament as “the Law” (nomos), does it command or instruct women to be silent, or to be in submission. Yet Chrysostom, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther and many other theologians took “the Law” in 14:34-35 to refer to the Old Testament, and specifically to Genesis 3:16. (Krizo 2009:33) 

Grudem, however, is careful to distance himself from linking the complementarian concept of male authority with Genesis 3:16 and the Fall. Grudem claims that “the Law” probably refers to the Old Testament in general, and Genesis 2 in particular “where Adam is the ‘firstborn’.” (Grudem 1988:223) Hierarchical complementarians use the created order of Adam first, and Eve second, to support their view that God has ordained men to be the authorities over women. [I have written about The Complementarian Concept of the Created Order here.]

Other theologians suggest that Paul is referring to a Rabbinical Law. Still others suggest that Paul is referring to a Roman Law. There were many Roman laws that governed various religious observances in the Roman world. Richard and Catherine Kroeger (1978:9) believe that Paul is referring to laws passed by the Roman Senate that were designed to curb women from engaging in wild, orgiastic Bacchanal worship. The Kroegers believe the Christian women in Corinth may have imitated Bacchanalian worship styles in church meetings, and so Paul instructs them in 14:34-35 to be silent, control themselves, and stop acting disgracefully.[21] Grudem (1988:223), however, writes that “. . . in the 119 occurrences of the word “law” (nomos) in Paul’s letters it never unambiguously refers to either Rabbinic law or Roman Law.” Cynthia Long Westfall (2016:237, fn85), on the other hand, states that nomos is used here with “its most common meaning ‘rule, principle, norm.'” According to this understanding, women were to be quiet and behave according to the cultural norms of the day.

As already noted, the Hebrew Bible contains no instructions, or even encouragements, for women to be silent or submissive.[22] Jim Reiher (2006:83) suggests that since the Greek Christians in Corinth would not have known the Jewish law as well as the Jewish Christians, it is possible the Corinthians may have simply been mistaken on this issue of “the Law”. Or perhaps the people who were trying to silence women in the Corinthian church mentioned “the Law” speciously to support their view.

The ambiguous reference to “the law” is a hindrance to understanding the real meaning of 14:34-35. The verb “be subject” (or “be submissive”) is less ambiguous.[23] Most people mistakenly assume that the submission called for in verse 34 is the submission of wives to husbands. Some apply it even more widely and believe that the women as a group were being commanded to be subordinate to the men. Importantly, however, the same verb is also used two verses earlier, in verse 32, where it literally says, “The spirits of prophets are subject to the prophets.” The Kroegers (1978), and others, believe that Paul is using the word “subject” to mean “control”, and that Paul is instructing the prophets to control their spiritual gift of prophecy and not get carried away like some pagan prophets. The NIV conveys this meaning in its translation of verse 32: “The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of the prophets.” (My italics.)  Similarly, the use of the word “subject/submission” in verse 34 may simply be an injunction to the women to exercise control in the manner they prophecy (or restraint in asking questions) and not get carried away.

Chloe of Corinth

One woman who may have ministered in the church at Corinth was Chloe. In the opening chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul writes that he has learnt that there are problems and factions within the Corinthian church from some people who had come from Chloe (1 Cor. 1:11).[24] These people somehow belonged to Chloe. They may have been members of her household and members of her church. [25]

Chloe had probably sent these people to Paul. Sending a delegation is clearly something only a person functioning as a leader can do. Considering the purpose of the delegation, it seems that Chloe was a church leader.[26] Perhaps Chloe’s people did not just bring a verbal report to Paul about the problems in the Corinthian church, perhaps they also brought the letter which Paul responds to in 1 Corinthians.[27] Could Chloe, as a concerned church leader in Corinth, have written this letter?

In New Testament times, most Christian congregations met in homes, and some house churches were hosted and led by women. Nympha was the host of a house church (Col. 4:15), and so was Priscilla, with her husband Aquila (1 Cor. 16:19).[28] It is unlikely that Paul would restrict Christian women from ministering in their own homes, especially as the New Testament provides ample evidence that Paul greatly valued the ministry of many of his female colleagues. Knowing that some early churches were hosted and led by women, makes the interpretation that women were not permitted to speak in church meetings unlikely.


The summaries presented in this article are just a sample of some of the better-known interpretations of 14:34-35. Still more interpretations have been proposed by respected scholars. Because of this vast variety of interpretations, it is difficult to know precisely how to apply these verses, especially in the context of the contemporary church.

One thing is certain. 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 cannot be used to completely silence women from speaking in church meetings, as Paul condones the verbal ministries of prayer and prophecy from women. Taking into account that Paul condones women who prophecy, it is difficult to see how 14:34-35 can be used to exclude women from other equally influential and authoritative speaking ministries in the church. [29]

The meaning, intent, and even the authorship, of 14:34-35 is uncertain. Because of this uncertainty, 14:34-35 should not be used definitively in the continuing debate about women’s roles in ministry. 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 cannot be used legitimately to prohibit women who are called, gifted, and qualified from exercising a ministry which includes public speaking.


The Bibliography to this article is here.

[1] The Greek word gunē can mean “woman” or “wife”.  The precise meaning is usually determined by context.

[2] Some believe the passage being discussed in this essay should begin half-way through verse 33. However, “. . . to begin a new paragraph at 33b would produce an awkward redundancy: ‘As in all the churches of the saints, let the women be silent in the churches’. . . ”  Moreover, “ ‘Let the women . . .’ is a typical Pauline start to a new paragraph (see Eph. 5:22 and Col. 3:18).  (Belleville 2001:117)

[3] For example, “It is not permitted to a woman to speak in the church; neither (is it permitted for her) to teach, nor to baptize, nor to offer, nor to claim to herself a lot in any manly function, not to speak (in any) sacerdotal office.”  Tertullian, On the Veiling of Virgins, Chapter 9.

[4] For example, “Speech may be employed in two ways: in one way privately, to one or a few, in familiar conversation, and in this respect the grace of the word may be becoming to women. In another way, publicly, addressing oneself to the whole church, and this is not permitted to women.” Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II-II, Question 177, Article 2.

[5] The Greek word used for “keep silent” in 1 Corinthians 14:28, 30 & 34 is sigaō; all three occurrences are in the imperative (command tense).  The NASB and NRSV have translated sigaō consistently as “keep silent” and “be silent” respectively in 1 Corinthians 14. The NIV 2011 has been inconsistent in its translation of sigaō with the result that it is not clear that Paul asks for silence from three different groups of people in the Corinthians church, and not just disruptive women .

[6] The Greek word exousia, usually translated as “authority” in 1 Corinthians 11:10, is a common word in the New Testament and can mean authority, right, freedom, licence, etc. According to Paul, women have the freedom, or the right, to pray and prophecy aloud in church meetings with their own authority (exousia) upon their own heads (1 Cor. 11:10).

[7] While Chrysostom believed that 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 was intended to silence idle chatter, he maintained that these verses are also prohibited women from speaking about spiritual things.

[8] Contra the explanation that 14:34-35 was designed to silence chatter from disorderly women, and similar views, Stephen B. Clark (1980) states unashamedly that, “All these views miss an important point: Paul instructs the women to be silent because they are women, not because they are disorderly.”

[9] The Greek word agnoeō can mean “to be ignorant, not to understand; sin through ignorance.”  (Perchbacher 1990:4)

[10] In accordance with his complementarian ideology, Grudem (1988:224) believes that in 14:34-35 “. . . Paul is arguing from a larger conviction about an abiding distinction between the roles appropriate to males and those appropriate females in the Christian Church.” To assist churches (which hold complementarian views) to work out what ministries are “inappropriate” for women, Grudem (1995) has painstakingly listed 83 church ministries in, what he considers to be, decreasing order of Spiritual authority. (These 83 ministries are categorised in three lists.) The idea is that a line is drawn somewhere in the lists and that women are excluded from the ministries higher up in the lists.  Where the exactly the line is to be drawn seems incredibly arbitrary. [My article entitled Wayne Grudem on What Women Should Do in Church here.]

[11] Hierarchical complementarians believe that God has ordained only men to be leaders and have spiritual authority; and conversely, that women have been designed to be submissive and responsive to male-only leadership and authority. They prohibit women from leading and teaching groups which include men. It is beyond the scope of this essay to discuss the validity and veracity of complementarian beliefs. Many complementarians, including D.A. Carson and John Mark Hicks, etc, hold to similar interpretations of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 as Grudem.

[12] Huldah, Miriam, Deborah, Anna, and Philip’s four daughters are acknowledged as respected prophetesses in the Bible.

[13] In Acts 16:16, the fortune-telling slave girl in Philippi is referred to in the Greek as having a “pythian spirit” (pneuma pythōna).

[14] It is widely believed that the female Pythia sat on a three-legged stool which was positioned over noxious vapours that escaped through a fissure in the earth. The noxious vapours caused the Pythia to become delirious and speak gibberish. The gibberish was then interpreted by a male priest-prophet. Ben Witherington, however, relies on the scholarship of Joseph Fontenrose (1978:197) who claims “the Pythia experienced no frenzy that caused her to shout wild and unintelligible words; she spoke quite clearly and directly to the consultant without the need of the prophet’s mediation.”

[15] By New Testament times, interest in the Delphic Oracle was declining.

[16] Legendary sources and ancient papyri provide information about what sort of questions were posed to the oracle. These included questions about domestic concerns such as marriage, childbearing, separation, and the death of a spouse. (Witherington 1995:279)

[17] First Corinthians may be a compilation of several letters that Paul wrote to the Corinthian Christians. L. L. Welborn proposes that there are three letters contained in First Corinthians. Letter A (1 Cor. 10:1-22; 6:12-20; 10:23-11:34) covers issues related to associating with immoral and idolatrous people.  Letter B (1 Cor. 7-9, 12-16) was written in response to a letter from the Corinthians. Welborn refers to Letter C (1 Cor. 1:1-6:11) as “Counsel of Concord”.  L. L. Welborn, “The Corinthian Correspondence” (forthcoming).

[18] Interpolations are later additions inserted into the Scriptures by unknown authors. Grudem seems disingenuous when he criticises those who dismiss some Bible verses as interpolations. Interpolations are not rare in the New Testament. Several interpolations, such as the Johannine Comma (1 John 5:7-8) and the ending of Mark’s Gospel (Mark 16:9-20), are widely acknowledged as such.

[19] Verses 34-35 may have started out as someone’s margin notes in a very early text, which a copyist then later incorporated into the body of Paul’s letter when making new copies of 1 Corinthians.

[20] The Textus Receptus, and other manuscripts, include humōn (“your”) after the Greek word for women/wives. This is probably a scribal addition as many older texts do not have humōn. See endnote 23 for other textual variations.

[21] Ancient Corinth was a centre for the worship of Bacchus, also known as Dionysus.

[22] Jesus ben Sirach, whose apocryphal work is included in the Septuagint (the Ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament), wrote that “a silent wife (or woman) is a gift from the Lord” (Sir. 26:13-15). Is this where the idea of womanly silence and submission and “the law” came from? Sirach’s apocryphal work, which reveals his misogynistic views, is not part of the Hebrew Bible, and is not included in Protestant Bibles.

[23] The Textus Receptus has the present middle/passive infinitive form of hupotassō, in 1 Corinthians 14:34. Other, more reliable, texts use the present middle/passive imperative verb (3rd person plural). Hupotassō has a broader range of meanings other than just “submit” and “subordinate”. [My article on Submission here.]

[24] The NIV 2011 translates 1 Corinthians 1:11 as: “My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you.”  The word “household” has been added; it is not in the Greek text. Another possible translation might be: “. . . some [people] from Chloe have informed me . . . ”

[25] Lydia (Acts 16:15, 40) and Mary the mother of John Mark (Acts 12:12) were in charge of their households and used their homes to host church meetings.

[26] Chloe was obviously known to the Corinthian church, otherwise Paul would not have mentioned her by name in his letter to them. Catherine Clark Kroeger (2002:646) writes that, “‘Chloe’s people’ probably indicates a worshipping community with a female leader.” More about Chloe here.

[27] About one quarter of 1 Corinthians deals with information Paul received through Chloe’s report. (Wilson 1991: 172) 

[28] Other New Testament women who were possibly house church leaders include Euodia and Syntyche (Phil. 4:2-3) and the Chosen Lady (2 John 1, 5). Philip’s daughters (Acts 21:9), Phoebe (Rom. 16:1-2), Junia (Rom 16:7); some of the other women mentioned in Romans 16 were possibly church leaders also.  [I have written more about New Testament Women Church Leaders here.]

[29] 1 Timothy 2:12-15 is also used by some churches to prohibit women from ministries that include speaking, teaching and leading. [I have written about 1 Timothy 2:12 in Context here.]

© 8th of July, 2011; revised 11th of January, 2012; Margaret Mowczko

Related Articles

1 Timothy 2:12 in Context
1 Corinthians 14:34-35 in a Nutshell
The Chiasm in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16
Who was Chloe of Corinth?
New Testament Women Church Leaders
Bible Women with Spiritual Authority
The Complementarian Concept of the Created Order
Complementarianism: A Traditional Belief of the Church?

Posted July 9th, 2011 . Categories/Tags: Equality and Gender Issues, Equality in Ministry, The "Difficult" Passages, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Unkind, judgemental, bizarre, and off-topic comments will be deleted.

62 comments on “Interpretations and Applications of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35

  1. Paige says:

    Love your articles 🙂
    One arguement I hear a lot is that 1 Corinthians 11 is not talking about the context of church meetings. Seems strange to me, but do you have any thoughts or responses to that?

  2. Marg says:

    Thanks Paige. 🙂

    I think that 1 Corinthians 11 is about appropriate, respectable behaviour during worship in church meetings. 1 Cor 11:2-16 is basically Paul’s rationale for this respectable behaviour which preserves gender distinctions.

    Have you seen this video of NT Wright? He speaks about 1 Corinthians 11. The only point of his that I am not sure of is whether Corinthian women always covered their hair in public. Respectable women wore their hair up and used head bands, but I haven’t seen Corinthian women in ancient art with their heads covered.

    Here are some other useful links: http://www.pbpayne.com/?p=386 which is about whether 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 refers to church meetings; and http://www.pbpayne.com/?p=450 which is about hairstyles.

  3. katt vaughan says:

    Very thorough job with the truth, thank you!

  4. Don Johnson says:

    I read 1 Cor 14:34-35 as a quote from Corinth that is repudiated in v.36. In this case, the “law says” is a clue that law refers to the so-called Oral Torah of the Pharisees. The reason is the Torah is written and therefore read.

  5. Rieanna says:

    Hello. I must commend you for all the time and work that you’ve put into studying these things to help clear up the misunderstandings about these and similar scriptures. Great work!! I think Genesis 3:16 is a ridiculous-sounding scripture. I know that God loves His daughters so it cannot mean what is initially interpreted by most, but I don’t think I fully understand it either…..got any thoughts on that? Thanks…..

  6. Marg says:

    I don’t think I fully understand Genesis 3:16 either.

    Here are a few of my thoughts which I’ve previously jotted down on my Every Old Testament Woman facebook page, plus some others. I think I will rework this into an upcoming post.

    Genesis 3:16a And [God] said to the woman, “I will greatly multiply your sorrows/pains and your sighs/groans . . .” (Translation from the LXX of Gen 3:17a. The numbering of verses in the LXX is slightly different.)

    N.B. all the words ‘your’ are singular in this verse. There are no less than five occurrences of “sou” in Gen 3:16!

    The BDAG lexicon defines sorrow (lupē) as “pain of mind or spirit”; and distress (stenagmos) as “an involuntary expression of great concern or stress”.

    In the Septuagint (LXX) this first phrase of Genesis 3:16, and the phrase of “sorrows” and “sighs”, is not necessarily linked to giving birth.

    Eve’s first son was a murderer; her second son was murdered. Her ‘sorrows’ and ‘sighs’ were indeed multiplied (Gen 4:8 cf Gen.3:16a). However almost all interpreters and commentators believe Gen 3:16a refers to pain and effort in labour rather than just sorrow over one’s children.

    The next phrase clearly refers to childbirth: “in pains (from lupē) you will give birth to children”. (Genesis 3:16b)

    Painful labour may be just one cause of a woman’s sorrows and sighs.

    The Bible typically refers to childbirth as a difficult, painful and precarious experience.

    I didn’t have any pain in my first labour, and both labours – I have two sons – were shortish (6 1/2 and 4 hours) with no ill affects at all. Most women who have had good labours, like me, don’t talk about it because of some women’s horror stories. All I want to say is that not all women have painful, arduous labours.

    Genesis 3:16c “Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule you.”

    My guess to the meaning of this part of the verse is that most women still want (desire) to marry, despite the loss of harmony, affinity and equality between the sexes, despite the fact that a consequence of the Fall is that men will rule their wives. Most of the world’s cultures have been steeped in patriarchy (male rule) for millennia. Thankfully patriarchy is losing its power and being replaced by equality in a few societies today.

    Apostrophē used in Gen 3:16c may also be translated as “a turning away from”. “There will be a turning away of you towards (pros) your husband.” Perhaps this means that Eve will turn towards her husband (and away from God?) but be ruled by him. Heartbreaking! Pros may mean “with” (friendly) or “against” (hostile) here (like it does in the four occurrences of the word Ephesians 6:12.) I think it is impossible to know exactly how to interpret this “turning away” in Genesis 3:16.

    Apostrophē is used in Acts 3:26; Romans 11:26; 2 Tim 4:4 where it simply means “a turning away from”. (See also Matt 5:42; 26:25; Luke 23:14; 2 Tim 1:15; Tit 1:14; Heb 12:25.)

    In Genesis 3:16a God does say “I will multiply . . .” (I must admit I have trouble taking this at face value.) It is not clear, however, whether the things in parts b and c are directly caused by God, or whether God’s statements reveal some consequences of sin.

    Also, in the Genesis 3:16 God is speaking to one woman. All the grammar, the ‘you’ and ‘your’ and the verbs, is singular. While this verse is prophetically and significantly applied to every woman that ever lived, it is important to note that the punishment for Eve’s sin is given to Eve only. God does not add a clause that says that this punishment applies to all women. Yet we see that women do suffer with sorrows and sighs, in painful childbirth and because of men who think they are divinely appointed as the leaders and authorities of women.

    Jesus came to deal with sin and the consequences of the Fall. We can turn back to God and be reconciled with him (Acts 3:26) We can Jesus’ agents and alleviate some of the Fall’s consequences by promoting peace, harmony and equality between the sexes, and pain relief in childbirth.

  7. Mike Baggett says:

    Wow! Wait to you guys and gals face Christ in judgement! If you don’t believe the Bible just come out and say so…I’ve never seen such rubberband stretching and wresting of This Scripture as in this line of post! I guess you can explain away the sin of homosexuality too…I’m shocked. Reader beware: If you don’t understand the Bible don’t believe anything here, trust me.

  8. Marg says:

    Hi Mike, These possible interpretations of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 have all been put forward by men who strongly believe in the truth and authority of the Bible. They have looked at the context of the verse, and the counsel of the Bible as a whole, to try and determine exactly what Paul meant in these two verses.

    They have also tried to discern if there are any limits to the call for silence from women and what these limits might be.

    Mike, I’m wondering how you take 1 Corinthians 14:34-35? Do you believe that every woman should be completely silent in every church meeting for all time?

    Is it OK if women say “Amen” aloud at the end of corporate prayer? Is it OK if women join in with liturgies where there is a call and response? Is it OK if a woman joins in when the church is saying the Lord’s Prayer or the Apostle’s Creed? Or do you believe women must keep silent in the churches and should not be permitted to speak at all.

  9. Rieanna says:

    The life of St. Joan of Arc is a great example of the fact that God never intended for women to have any limits whatsoever and that it was as a result of the fall from grace that things became the way they were. God was the one who sent the angels to give Joan instructions to openly go against men’s laws to fulfill the mission that He had given her. And He put everything in place for Joan. In the end, (maybe you could research her life story for fine details) she was caught by “authorities” and convicted of heresy and burned to death at the stake by a jury who were themselves later declared as corrupted by a high priest in the church. It was only after they burned her they realized she was God-sent, just as she claimed because as she told them before she died, her heart did not reduce to ashes but kept on beating as though she were still alive while the rest of her body did turn to ashes.

    @ Mike, You can’t just dismiss something like this. If one has even the slightest bias against women (no matter how small) it is very easy to misinterpret what the intentions behind this and similar scriptures were. It is not that there is any unbelief in what is being said, it is just that it is easy to misunderstand it and basically the whole world has been misled about many parts of the bible that have been taught in a very biased manner misleading people into believing things of scripture that are totally inconsistent with who God is and the truth that He represents. This has been happening for a looooonnngg time. I know this for myself apart from the info on this website.

    People who have solid personal relationships with God know that many of these things are not true, because they can see for themselves in their own relationships with God that the consequences of the world misunderstanding scripture was never God’s intention. I think it is pretty clear from the way Paul and more importantly, Jesus Himself treated the women they came into contact with, that God never intended women to be bound by any limits whatsoever. Look at the fact that He exalted His Mother above all men (including Joseph, her husband)…..well of course blessed is she amongst women, (and God will allow no man nor woman to ever take her place) but if she was not supposed to be exalted, then she simply would not have been. Whether people approve or not and whether they beleive it or not, God intended every woman to be honoured the way His Mother has been honoured.

    I think the reason people are still misunderstanding things is not only because they have been misled into beleiving things by bad teaching that is inconsistent with God’s character, but also because they themselves do not know God..they think they know Him but they’re making the mistake of assuming that because we human beings think a certain way, then God probably thinks that way too. But that is incorrect because God is extremely different. Anybody who has had the privelege of having a ‘Moment of Grace’ or encountering God in the Spirit, that is meeting Him personally, can testify to that.

    Truth is, there will always be people out there in the world who will always want to believe things that are not true, because thats their preference. For those of us who really know the truth, which Jesus Himself said that there is only one of, we just have to be content in knowing that what we know is the one and only truth. I am not going to try to argue with the whole world about something that I know they don’t understand. Rather, I will try my best to be content in knowing that what I beleive is the truth. Too many “truths” out there, that has and will always be a problem. And yes it is true, whether we like or not, everybody without exception *will* face God on judgement day. We just have to try our best to live good lives while we’re here, so that day wouldn’t be a problem when it comes around….thats all….

  10. David says:

    It is quite clear that this verse intends for women not to speak in church. Obviously women would like to creep at the edges of the bible to weasel their way into the heirachy, and this is exactly why He has told us that they are unfit for the purpose.

  11. Marg says:

    Hi Dave,

    The intent and meaning of 1 Cor. 14:34-35 may seem clear to you, but N.T. Wright, Craig Keener, Ben Witherington, Gordon D. Fee, Philip Payne, Bruce Metzger, Richard Kroeger, Jim Reiher – men I have quoted in this article – would disagree with your interpretation. I do not regard these men as creeping at the edges of the Bible; the opposite is the case.

    These verses do not have anything to do with a hierarchy. Moreover, elsewhere in the New Testament, women, as well as men, are encouraged to minister and speak in meetings. (The house church setting of the early church is very different to the setting of most churches today.)

    I think it’s sad that you paint women in a negative light and with a broad brush. Thankfully the Scriptures say wonderful things about women.

  12. John says:

    1Corinthians14:34-35 should be read carefully…its not meant for us to follow as a doctrine. Look at the 3 words “(Let Your Women)”. Even if paul said let all women keep silent, he’s only addressing the church of corinth. Because if you go back 7 chapters, paul says women can pray & prophecy and he says they should remain single If they do so…so why would the Holy Spirit use paul to allow women to speak then say shut up & sit down and don’t speak? And if some of the women were single, how can they have sk their husbands a question if they have no husbands? That’s why its best to understand & read with reason. Certain wives were disrupting the church and that’s why paul says for them to ask their husbands at home. Its like if a group of women sat in service, then starting talking and making noise while the preacher is speaking…they would have to keep silence for the church to hear the word. I know a friend that said all women have to submit to their husbands nomatter what He does. But she complained about her boyfriend being in control of her, she went against her “own belief” in women submitting themselves to men by breaking up with him. This example should make her & many that agree with women keeping silent & submitting themselves see that this behavior isn’t from God Almighty. God told adam & eve together that they rule together and have dominion….a husband & wife are equal as 1 & are to live for our Lord Jesus as equal partners. When he said that adam would rule over eve, its not talking about the husband dominating & giving the husband free will to do whatever he wants to his wife. It means the husband will be the stronger vessel when I view it

  13. John says:

    And I strongly believe with proof that some of the scriptures were mistranslated. The king james translaters didn’t properly translated the manuscript that actually showed what the scriptures really said. There are greek & latin words that had what thee scriptures said & they were written in the language. Somehow, king james’s scribes mistranslated some of the scriptures that show women being banned in their life. 1Timothy2:11-12 & 1corinthians14:34-35 are poorly mistranslated in text because other scriptures show women in leadership & in authority over men & women. And they were in pastoral positions. Chloe in 1corinthians1:11 is one of them. But somehow women can pray & speak in the church in Corinthians but at the same they have to keep silent? That’s shows there’s been a mistranslation that has caused a MASSIVE confusion breaking up the church in more denominations

  14. Marg says:

    Thanks for your comments, John. I completely agree that God does not want every woman to keep silent and be in submission to every man. People have misunderstood, misinterpreted and misapplied the instructions in 1 Cor. 14:34-35.

    Women in the New Testament church did indeed have pastoral ministries (e.g. the Chosen Lady in 2 John). However, I do not believe that any Christian – man or woman – has authority over another adult Christian; rather we are all brothers and sisters. There is no hierarchy, there is no “authority over“, in the body of Christ.

  15. John says:

    Hey marg, thanks :). I believe the text of what paul was saying to the church of corinth was that its ashame for your wives to speak rather than just plain general women. A very poor translation from the scribes for our modern english to read & understand. And its funny how I know a woman that believes in women submitting, but she broke up with her man because she didn’t like being told what to do & submitted herself to him in silence. And you’re right about how noone has the authority over each other because Jesus told his disciples that NOONE has the authority except him. When I said how the scriptures show women having authority over men & women, I was basically expressing spiritual authority as in “leading/teaching roles” that many believe only men should have. My way of saying spiritual authority is having the right to persue…in this case, the history in the bible of women having authority/”THE RIGHT” to proclaim the Gospel & teach wisdom. But true, and its like what peter says, a wife & husband each individually has power over their own body. That should show how we are free rather than being under authority as if being forced to do what’s told by someone without our own free will.

  16. John says:

    From my previous comment, I should’ve rather said that this verse seems to be mistranslated by the king james scribes rather than the scriptures being mistranslated. I don’t wanna sound wrong at all because the word of God is never confusing nor written wrong. But in my opinion, I believe the text in 1corinthians14:35 should’ve been “Its ashame for your women/your wives to speak in the church” because at 1st it looks to sound like women in general cannot speak in the church. But from re-reading this verse by its context & refference, I see what paul was talking about. Which was just the wives that were disrupting the church in meetings.

  17. John says:

    As I took a look around 1Corinthians14:34-35, verse 36 concludes how paul responded in his voice to correct the jewish law…since he quoted verses 34-35 by saying “the law”

    • Marg says:

      And yet the Jewish Law does not contain any statute that says or implies that women should be silent . . . or that women should be submissive, for that matter.

  18. John says:

    My apologes If I sent this twice,
    1Corinthians14:35, if you look where it says “Its ashame for women to speak in church”…that really wouldn’t correspond to how wives were disrupting the church assembly. When it Said “For its ashame for women to speak” means all women single or married. Notice how it says at 1st that they should ask their husbands….then says its ashame for women to speak? Now what would make sense is if 1Corinthians14:35 said “Its shameful for your women to speak” because it would correspond more to regarding the wives asking their husbands any questions, rather than saying its shameful for women(All) to speak, sounding more like all women. I see paul was quoting like he does in most of his letters, and at corinth he was quoting the jewish teaching in 1Corinthians14:34-35 and rebukes the church in verse36 asking the silencers who did the word of God come to for speaking & listening. He said in 1Corinthians1:10 “Do not have divisions among you” and i connect that to how the women were being divided and silenced. I really dont see evidence in this book showing any signs of wives disrupting the meeting though.

    Now, “The law” contained jewish customs and teachings that were passed down. However in the New Testament, we dont see some of these jewish laws that they mention from “The Law” back in the Old Testament. For example, in John8:7 the jews said the law of moses said to stone those who act in adultery. But we dont see that law mentioned and stated in the Old Testament. 2Chronicles34:22-28 shows how the book of moses containing laws and teachings, was poorly interpreted by the early jews. Now, Jesus in John8:17 said to them “Their Law” says the things from the jewish history….that shows how the jews established teachings based on the books of moses, who they’ve believed to be the messiah. Matthews5:17-46 shows how Jesus corrected and pointed out the teachings that the jews taught & believed, the jews believed they can work on the sabbath. But the 10 commandments says to keep the sabbathh holy. My point for this is that the jewish law in the New Testament including 1Corinthians14:34-35 where it states “As also sayeth The Law”…..this only showed the jewish traditional law that was not shown in the Old Testament from being followed from the Old Testament by the jewish ancient teaching.

  19. Dan says:

    Thanks for the article, Marg. I really appreciate how carefully you have done your research and how clearly you have presented your information. If you haven’t done so already, I think you should earn your Ph.D. and teach at a college or seminary.


    • Marg says:

      Hi Dan, PhDs take a lot of work, and a lot of sitting still. I am unable to sit still for a long time without getting unwell. This effectively rules out a PhD for me. But I appreciate your lovely complement.

  20. Thank you for the publication!
    It was the first article I found that gave me courage!
    I have seen many women, because of 1 Corinthians 14 : 34-36, burying their talents and living a sad life due to a wrong understanding.
    Thanks for contributing !
    Continue this work.
    Sorry for my bad English language.
    God bless you!

    • Rie Monique says:

      Indeed Carolina, Marg does some great work! Kudos Marg! Keep up the great work! Carolina, if you do some research you would see that people are slowly beginning to come to the understanding that none of these conveniently misinterpreted lies about women were ever true. These myths exist only within the corrupted minds of those who choose to believe lies instead of truth.

      I too, have seen many women just passively sitting back and accepting “2nd place” or settling for “2nd best” and using it as justification for being obedient to God’s will. (This is what the men wanted. This is not what God wanted.) Those people don’t understand, if that was God’s will for women, it was His will for men also since people, (but not God) are a respecter of gender.

      I think any woman who has a deep personal relationship with God Himself in her own spiritual life would look to God Himself for answers about these things and not priests or even the Pope (with all due respect.) They would understand that just because these men are human, means that they are subject to being incorrect about many things and that means the one and only place 100% truth can be found is in God Himself. But they are such respecters of position, and many of them prefer to look to their pastors and priests instead of God Himself for answers and end up falling for nonsense because there are still many priests and pastors who are still wrong about this area. If they go to God Himself, they would be given truthful revelations and shown how much of what they were misled into believing was never true in the first place. I can testify, people are the ones who wanted women to bury their talents and just settle for less than best, God never wanted that! And they think that is what God wanted because that is the way they see it, but God does not see things the way a human man does, that’s why He said “My ways above yours, My words above yours, My thoughts above yours.”

      • Marg says:

        Rie Monique, It is tragic that many men and women expect Christian women to bury their talents because of a faulty understanding of God’s will and Gods’ ways.

        I believe that they do not have a true appreciation of the magnitude of what it means to be “in Christ”.

    • Marg says:

      I’m am so grateful when I hear comments like yours, Caroline. God wants his daughters empowered and not discouraged. Bless you!

  21. John says:

    Exactly, paul was quoting 1Corinthians14:34-35 from the church holding onto the jewish customs. Paul rebukes the church in verse 36. An example is in 1Corinthians11:5-15 where paul was quoting jewish customs of women wearing headcoverings, then he said a woman’s hair is already her covering.

    1Timothy2:11-12 is also paul against false teaching of genealogy and pagan doctrine by women, he was not telling women to stop being in ministry. Genealogy is about the 1st Father and Mother in ancestry(Adam & Eve). Women taught how adam was deceived and eve formed 1st. Paul just reverses and corrected them on the order.

  22. jon says:

    feelings run on high on this subject. accusations of disenfranchisement, and maybe feelings of entitlement that hark to a victorian era, rather than a scriptural understanding.
    “the women should keep silent in the churches,” 1 Cor 14:34. there’s the command for you – the reason? v34, “they are nor permitted to speak, but should be in submission.” SUBMISSION
    “a wife should have a symbol of authority on her head,”1 cor 11:10 AUTHORITY
    “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet,” 1 Tim 2:13 AUTHORITY
    the issue here is God’s delegated authority, and whether it will be submitted to or not.
    unwarranted suppositions regarding the lady of 2 John and Chloe aside – would you concede that authority is central to this, rather than either peripheral or totally ignored.
    there’s little debate here over the authority of a master over a slave, or a king over his realm – also scriptural ideas – is the relatively recent Christian feminist reading on this subject really a result of greater study, or simply a reflection of today’s ambiguity over gender?

    • John says:

      1Corinthians14:34 said THE LAW silenced women in churches with an “S” plural. Paul wrote to one church in this letter, so how can he tell other churches to silence women while writing to one church?

      The law of moses never silenced women, the pharisees followed their own oral law that silenced women. The jews do not allow women in ministry, Jesus was against this law. So paul was quoting the jewish oral law and in 1Corinthians14:36 paul rebuked thee men with a question.

      Paul quotes errors of the church and responds to them. 1Corinthians11:4-9 paul was quoting the jeewish tradition of men being the image of God and how man is not of the woman….look at 1Corinthians11:11-15 on how it switches and says Man IS OF the woman, vice versa. And it said women do not have to cover their heads because her hair is a covering. You have to wattch out for correction from quotings being made.

      1Timothy2:12 is not about church, its about false teaching of Genealogy and otheer doctrine that twisted the story of adam and eve. Paul never wrote to a church here, he wrote to a city to stop false teachers which included women 1Timothy1:3-4.

      Eve was in the transgression and God took away her freedom in marriage in Genises3:16 allowing her HUSBAND to have authority over her.

      Genises3:16 “Your desire shall be for your HUSBAND, and HE shall RULE over you”….which connects to authority in 1Timothy2:12 “Nor to usurp authority over the man/husband

  23. Patrick says:

    This is really intriguing stuff, thank you all for challenging my thinking. Obviously we all want to pursue, know and meditate on Gods word and follow his ways as in psalm 119 so It’s good to see the zeal in trying to understand this passage. I will throw in my 2 cents and say Grudem’s position is the most accurate, what isn’t mentioned in the article and that he states in his systematic theology book which is a great read btw, is that
    “While Paul allows women to speak and give prophesies in the church meeting, he does not allow them to speak up and give evaluations or critiques of the prophesies that have been given, for this would be a ruling or governing function with respect to the whole church. This understanding of the passage depends on our view of the gift of prophesy in the New testament age, namely, that prophesy involves not authoritative bible teaching, and not speaking words of God which are equal to Scripture, but rather reporting something which God spontaneously brings to mind. In this way, Paul’s teachings are quite consistent in 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Timothy 2: in both cases he is concerned to preserve male leadership in the teaching and governing of the church.” (Chapter 47, page 939).
    I would say that verse 36 (1 Cor 14:36) is directed at Women meaning if women are the only Christians in the area, aka all the men do not fear God, a woman should definitely pastor a church. As we see with Deborah and Abigail in the old testament, both of whom had husbands who didn’t know God… and notice how they despised their husbands for having to take their roles. 1 Sam 25:25. But in the case where Godly men are around a man should always pastor and be an elder at a church as per Jesus who told a divorced samaritan prostitute in the middle of the day that he was God, the clearest point in the whole bible in which he does so, not caring about social customs when a moral principle is at stake, (John 4:26) chooses 12 male disciples (as opposed to 6 of each) to lead his church telling them that they will sit on the 12 thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Therefore, Gods design in eternity as well as presently is for male leadership in the highest governing roles of the church. So basically for a women there are thousands of incredible ministries for you, but (ideally) not church leadership as men and women both have their strengths and weaknesses and God has designed men to fill this role. Why? Only God knows fully but we can trust him.

    • Marg says:

      Hi Patrick,

      Deborah and Lappidoth

      Wondering where the scriptures indicate that Lappidoth didn’t know God, or that Deborah despised him. This sounds like pure conjecture. Furthermore, some commentaries suggest “woman of Lappidoth” in Judges 4:4 means that Deborah was from a town called Lappidoth. Others even suggest that “woman of lappidoth” should be understood as “woman of splendors“. Lappidoth is the feminine plural of lappid which is usually translated as “torches” elsewhere in Judges and the OT (e.g. Judg. 7:16, 20; 15:4-5). Lappid can also refer to lightning flashes. More on Deborah here.

      Abigail and Nabal

      Abigail went against her foolish husband’s wishes and was commended for it. She also prophesied to David, and he accepted her words. Nowhere does it say that she despised her husband because she had to take his “role”. This idea is entirely absent in the biblical text. If Abigail did despise her husband it was because he was a brutish headstrong fool, as the text and his name Nabal indicates (1 Sam. 25:3, 25). More on Abigail here.

      The Samaritan Woman

      To say that the Samaritan woman was a “divorced prostitute” is a stretch. Lynn Cohick (professor of New Testament at Wheaton College) discusses her marital situation here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2015/october/was-samaritan-woman-really-adulteress.html Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman is the longest conversation recorded in the New Testament. (Interestingly, Abigail’s words to David constitute the longest speech of a woman recorded in the Old Testament, and her words have become Holy Writ.) More on Jesus and the Samaritan Woman here.

      I disagree with most of your other ideas. For example, your statement here seems impractical: “if women are the only Christians in the area, aka all the men do not fear God, a woman should definitely pastor a church.” So what happens when a few men are converted? Does a newly converted man become the pastor even though the woman is much more experienced and capable? I sure hope not.

      I also disagree with Grudem’s interpretation of 1 Cor. 14:34ff as I’ve discussed in my article.

  24. Thanks for this post, Marg. I’m ticking the box to get follow up comments.

  25. Anna says:

    “Perhaps Paul quotes the faction’s injunction for silence from women in 14:34-35, and then he reprimands the faction (which includes men) with, “Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only ones [masculine gender] it has reached?” (1 Cor 14:36, NRSV, my italics and square brackets). The masculine gender in verse 36 does not follow logically after 14:34-35 and its instructions to women. ”
    I’m a little confused about the “masculine gender” part in verse 36. How do we know he was talking to the masculine gender?
    I’m all for women teaching but if I were to look at this (on the surface, maybe I missed something) from a “women can’t teach” viewpoint I might say that Paul was talking to the women who were not suppose to be teaching.

    • Marg says:

      Hi Anna,

      The Greek adjective monous, which occurs in verse 36 and means “only” or “alone”, is grammatically masculine. (It is an accusative masculine plural adjective.) According to Greek grammar this adjective cannot refer only to women. I’ll edit my sentence in the article to make it clearer that I’m referring to Greek grammar.

      There is nothing in this passage which hints that Paul is silencing women from teaching. I believe he was silencing nuisance questions from ignorant women, who are then told to ask their husbands if they want to learn anything. The context of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 is about women learning, not women teaching.

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