"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS" Let Your Women Keep Silent (14:34-37) INTRODUCTION 1. In recent years the role of women has changed in many churches... a. Many denominations now have women preachers, pastors, bishops, etc. b. The trend is beginning to catch on in some churches of Christ 2. The scriptures certainly reveal that women were involved in the spread of the gospel... a. It was foretold that women would prophesy - Ac 2:15-18 b. Philip had four daughters who prophesied - Ac 21:8-9 c. Instructions were given for when women prophesied - 1Co 11:3-16 d. Priscilla accompanied her husband Aquila in teaching Apollos
- Ac 18:26 e. Older women were to teach the younger women - Tit 2:3-5 3. Yet there are scriptures that clearly place limitations on women... a. In Paul's first epistle to Timothy - 1Ti 2:11-12 2. In Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians - 1Co 14:34-37 [In this study, we shall examine Paul's remarks to the Corinthians (1Co 14:34-37) by raising several questions that are commonly asked. The first question is...] I. DOES THE PASSAGE APPLY TODAY? A. SOME SAY IT DOES NOT... 1. They point out that the context describes a situation where women had husbands with the gift of prophecy - 1Co 14:29-33 2. Such women could (and should) ask questions of their inspired husbands at home 3. Since we do not have inspired men today, some reason the passage does not apply -- This view holds that Paul's comments were intended only for the circumstances at Corinth B. REASONS TO SAY THAT IT DOES... 1. Note the reason Paul gives for the women to ask their husbands at home a. "for it is shameful for women to speak in church"
- 1Co 14:35b b. Why should wives of inspired men be silent? c. Because it was shameful for women (i.e., women in general) to speak in church 1) Not a cultural shame, for Corinth was known for its many priestesses 2) But a spiritual shame, as even taught in the Law of Moses - cf. 1Co 14:34b 2. Paul makes a specific application, by appealing to a general principle a. Evidently the prophets' wives were speaking out in the assembly b. But it was shameful for women to speak in church (general principle) c. So they are told to be silent and ask their husbands at home (specific application) 3. The general principle remains true, even if the specific circumstances are not present a. Women are still to be submissive - 1Co 14:34 b. They are still not to teach or have authority over a man - cf. 1Ti 2:11-12; 3:15 c. The principle applies whether it is in Europe (Corinth), Asia (Ephesus), or the USA 4. We are dealing with a command of the Lord, not Paul's personal bias a. As Paul makes clear in succeeding verses - 1Co 14:36-38 b. We either acknowledge the Lord's command, or display our spiritual ignorance! -- The context (immediate and remote) indicates this is a commandment of the Lord intended for all churches and for all times! [Having determined that we are dealing with something that applies today, we do well to ask...] II. WHERE DOES THIS PASSAGE APPLY? A. WHERE WOMEN ARE TO BE SILENT... 1. Note what Paul says: a. "Let your women keep silent in the churches..."
- 1Co 14:34a b. "...for it is shameful for women to speak in church"
- 1Co 14:35b 2. The place is "in the church" (literally, in the assembly) a. When the congregation is assembled; e.g., "the whole church comes together in one place" - 1Co 14:23a b. Not necessarily elsewhere, e.g., at the home - 1Co 14:35a -- The principle applies whenever the whole church comes together in one place B. WHAT BEARING THIS MIGHT HAVE ON... 1. Bible classes - when the whole church is not together in one place? 2. Congregational business meetings - when the whole church is together in one place? 3. During announcements - when the whole church is together in one place? -- Whenever the whole church is together, the principle should be followed [In seeking to apply this principle whenever the whole church is together, we do well to ask...] III. WHAT DOES THIS PASSAGE REQUIRE? A. LET YOUR WOMEN KEEP SILENT... 1. Paul says "they are not permitted to speak" - 1Co 14:34 2. Not even to ask questions - 1Co 14:35 3. But to be as the tongue speaker without an interpreter: "let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God" - cf. 1Co 14:28 -- Clearly women are not to preach or teach when the church is assembled B. WHAT ABOUT WOMEN SINGING...? 1. We are commanded to sing praises and teach one another in song - Ep 5:19; Col 3:16 2. In 1Co 14, to "speak" means to "address the assembly" - cf. 1Co 14:28-31 a. Where the one who speaks is teaching or exercising authority "over" others b. Which if a woman did so, would violate 1Ti 2:11-12 3. In congregational singing, women are not teaching or exercising authority "over" men -- In congregational singing, women may join in the singing of praises CONCLUSION 1. I am fully aware that to place any limitation on the role of women sounds... a. "sexist" b. "old fashioned" c. "narrow-minded" -- Many would say the same about the Biblical teaching on marriage and sex 2. Yet we should be more concerned about... a. What the commandments of the Lord b. What is truly "spiritual" -- And so Paul's admonition still holds true - cf. 1Co 14:37-38 Those who desire not to be spiritually ignorant and disobey the Lord Jesus, will do well to give heed to the teachings of His apostles, whose words are just as relevant today as they were in the first century... "If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord." - 1Co 14:37