WOMEN'S ROLE IN THE CHURCH SERVICE......CONTINUED, PART THREE
Have you ever been in an audience somewhere before a program
begins, and on all sides of you is the sound of talking from the
people around you, but you can't really tell what anyone is
saying? All you hear is the hum of people talking. That's a good
way of describing laleo. It's not necessarily intelligible speech
- it's just the sound of the human voice.
That's what Paul is talking about in 1 Corinthians 14. If
you have received the gift of speaking in another language, but
it's a language no one else in the room understands, trying to
address the group in that language is pointless -- no one will
understand what you are saying! All they will hear is the sound
of your voice! That's the "speaking" (laleo) in tongues (glossa,
languages) Paul is referring to in this chapter.
What many people have missed is that Paul is not speaking
about tongues, and then about women. The Greek shows us the
unifying factor: Paul is discussing the subject of laleo, of
useless or non-edifying application of the human voice during
services! What Paul said was that women are not allowed to
laleo, and it is disgraceful for a woman to laleo in the church.
In this passage, Paul is not addressing women preachers at all!
Wooww! Just wait a minute! Yes, Paul is speaking about tongues
that do not profit anyone if there is no interpreter. BUT he is
also speaking about a whole lot MORE than that. He is speaking
about "prophets" and "prophesying" - about speaking to edify and
instruct. His whole theme in this chapter was that of clear
instructional edification for everyone. In verse 26, he
acknowledges that everyone there had something they could
contribute, so was the magnitude of the gifts of the Spirit in
their congregation. He then sets about giving them instructions
on how order should be within their assembly during the service.
He even lays out for them that only SO MANY (with the gift of
tongues and those who could prophesy - speak the words of the
Lord) could speak and that IN TURN. He tells them there is no
such thing as "well I just could not help but speak, for the
Spirit made me do it" as the spirit of the prophet is subject to
the prophet. The Spirit does not force anyone to speak, it does
not just "take over" a person like a demon sometimes does that
enters an individual, and where that person then has no control
of what and when and how they do things. Paul instructs them God
and His Spirit do not function that way, where confusion is the
You will notice the LAST thing, before introducing his
instructions concerning women, that he talks about is NOT tongues
but it is the PROPHETS and prophesy. Those who can speak the
words of the Lord either by direct revelation on the spot, or
instruct and teach the revelation of God from the Scriptures. So
if we want to argue any "nearest" context in the Greek, for our
"women keep silence" issue, then it is not tongues but prophesy
that they are to be silent on.
The full truth of the matter is the WHOLE chapter context, that I
have already given above in earlier comments. But a repeat is
Paul knew most of the congregation at Corinth had some gift of
the Spirit, including the women. They did not control those
gifts, they did not have order in the service, they were
all just letting it hang out as they say, anytime they felt like
it. Paul corrected them on their misuse of the gift of tongues
and how such a gift in the assembly should be used. He instructs
them on some order they should have in their service and even
limits certain gifts to two or three. He understands even the
women had some of these gifts, and knows the question will arise
(especially among the Jews there) about whether they are allowed
to use that vocal gifts in edifying and instructing the
congregation during the time when the church comers together into
one place. It is at the END of all his correcting and
instructions he gave to them that he answers that question, as it
would then cover ALL that he has given instructions on. Paul
answers the question of all women with any gift of being able to
teach, instruct, preach, the words of the Lord, by saying, THEY
are to be SILENT in that regard, even to the point of asking
questions. If they have any questions they are to ask their
husbands at home (a general statement, without going into the
exceptions of those who are not married, divorced or widows).
In fact, Paul's instructions in 1 Corinthians 11:4-5,
regarding men and women praying and prophesying with their heads
covered or uncovered, strongly implies that the women were able
to take part in worship, in praying, and perhaps even in teaching
(one of the definitions of prophesying) in the assembly.
We have already show and proved that this section of Scripture in
1 Cor. 11 has nothing to do with "when the church comes together
into one place" but it does concern every man and woman in the
body of Christ on an every day basis outside of the church coming
Notice this footnote to 1 Corinthians 14:33-40 in the Key
Study Bible: "... it was not an instruction to all the men in
general not to permit any woman to speak in church, but to
husbands to guide and teach their own wives lest they produce
confusion and disturbance in a meeting. ..."
Now let's use some logic and some common sense as to how Paul
wrote and the before context he wrote in. He had just gone
through expounding and explaining and correcting the errors of
speech the members of the congregation were practicing in the
church coming together at Corinth. He had made it clear there
was not only confusion in their services, but people speaking who
could not be understood by anyone. He then instructs them what
church services should be for - edification for all, and he
further lays down certain rules of how many can speak who have
certain gifts of the Spirit. This he tells them is in order
NOT to have confusion, for, under inspiration of the Spirit he
says, God is not the author of confusion. Plainly, he is telling
them that their confusion in services is from somewhere
else other than God, I think they would have understood where he
was telling them it was from, without naming any names of those
in opposition to the Lord, and who are part of the unseen world
of the created spirits.
If Paul, after saying all this, was now wanting the husbands to
make sure their wives were not part of this confusion, he could
have easily said after verse 33, something like this:
"Husbands, make sure you teach and train your wives at home, so
they will not bring any confusion in speech as they participate
in the teaching and preaching when the church comes together."
That's all he would have needed to say, for IF, and for the sake
of argument we shall say it was so, women were already fully
participating in the teaching, preaching, expounding of the word,
in the Church of God services everywhere, then a simple short
paragraph such as I have given above would have been all that
Paul would have needed to say after verse 33 of chapter 14, to
the husbands and the wives.
There would have been no need to have said anything about "the
law" or about "learning" or about "asking their husbands at home"
for everyone would have known women were on par with men in the
teaching and preaching during services. If there was any problem
with wives bringing in confusion during the teaching service then
a short sentence like above would have been all that Paul needed
Then such an idea that it was the women who were mainly
responsible for the confusion is a real slap in the face for
them. To think that bringing in talk confusion in the teaching
part of the church service is only a problem that women have, and
need some extra instruction at home under their husbands, to
control and overcome it, is not only a slap in the face towards
women but is a close-minded and blinded view to the fact that MEN
can have just as much a problem with confusion in talk when they
start going at each other and disagreeing over what the word says
or means. Men are just as likely to interrupt each other in
speaking, disagree over the meaning of a verse or verses, get
all emotional, and cause confusion in an open forum (as the
Corinthians obviously were practicing before Paul instructed them
about "order") as women are!
So who were going to teach the men lest they produce confusion
and disturbance in a meeting?
Then why would anyone want to teach another in the homes not to
cause confusion and a disturbance in the church meetings when
Paul had JUST NOW instructed them in the ORDER of things, so
there would be no confusion? He had just given them what he said
were the COMMANDS of the Lord. He had just instructed them in no
uncertain way about those who would give edification talks to the
congregation. He had instructed them HOW NOT TO BE IN CONFUSION!
To think that the women still needed further instruction
on the matter, makes out the women and wives to be either not
listening, not able to read, or just plain slow and dumb. Again,
it would be another insult and slap in the face for women.
Paul had a number of women that were workers with him in the
gospel. He wrote and spoke highly of them in not a few of his
epistles. To understand Paul as teaching and saying what
Zodhiates, the Key Study Bible, and the authors of this article
want you to accept and believe, is not only not understanding
Paul and his theology, but is also filled with much il-logic.
"The word 'speak' should be taken to mean 'uttering sounds that
are incoherent and not understood by others.' Paul says that
instead it is better to have silence. Paul uses the same word
'keep silent' to admonish a man [any person, actually] who speaks
in an unknown tongue without an interpreter (vv. 28, 30). "
So "keep silent" then does mean to "keep silent." Those who
could speak in a tongue were not to speak - keep silent - not
utter sounds of speech, IF they had no interpreter, or could
not interpret for themselves. So Paul said what he meant and
meant what he said. If the tongues speaker was to be silent, not
to speak (which is admitted to mean just that - not say
any words in edification, teaching, preaching, expounding, and
prophesy from the Lord) unless there was an interpreter, then
Paul also meant what he said and said what he meant, when he said
women were to keep silent and that it was not permitted unto them
The context as we have seen is edification, teaching, expounding,
revelations, instruction from the Lord, not the mere fact of
saying "hello" to someone, or telling the children to stop making
a noise. Paul then clearly tells us that women are to "keep
silent" in teaching during services where instruction and
edification for the whole congregation is the purpose of coming
together into one place.
"What Paul is saying is that only one man [person] must
speak at a time, for if two speak at once, there will be
confusion. ... The issue is not men versus women, but it is
confusion versus order. In God's sight, it makes no difference
who causes the confusion. It is a shame for any woman to bring
confusion into the local church (v.35), even as it is for any man
to do so."
The issue up to verse 33 is first to correct and instruct about
the prevailing confusion that was present in the church service,
and to lay down rules for order. Then he addresses after all
that, the issue of whether women can use the gifts of the Spirit
they may have, in teaching, preaching, edifying the congregation
from the word or revelations of the Lord, during that part of the
service devoted to that purpose - teaching and edifying from the
Lord to the congregation, which he had just finished addressing
and laying down instruction.
And again, as mentioned previously, the word gunaikes
(Strong's #1135, a derivative of gune) in verse 34 should not be
translated "women," but as "wives."
Not so, it should be as nearly all Greek and English translation
give - women. Paul was meaning all women as shown in 1 Tim. 2,
where the instruction on dress and outward appearance for women
applies to all women, not just the married, and where the
instruction in verses 11,12 applies to all women not only to the
Once again, the point of the verse is that wives should
submit to their husbands. Paul isn't teaching the subjection of
women to men in general, but rather that husbands and wives fit
into the family unit ordained by God. Zodhiates writes that "the
duty of the husbands is to restrain their own wives from
out-bursts during the worship service. Whenever Paul speaks of
submissiveness by a woman, it is always on the part of a wife to
her own husband."
Wow! Read that again where they quote from Zodhiates. Yes, I
guess he wrote it, they quote it. Now, in a world where many
nations had kept their women as practical slaves, and where they
were not permitted to go on to higher education, where they were
often looked upon as part of the "possessions" of a man. Where
the Jews could cast them aside with the stroke of a pen, and go
on to another one, or two, or three (polygamy was still allowed
in Jewish life), it would seem if we adopt the suppositions of
Zodhiates in what Paul was teaching under the sections we are
concerned with in this study, that there were some pretty wild
and powerful and emancipated wives in the Churches of God, who
would really "go to town" as they say, during the church come
togethers. It would seem they would rant and scream and put on
quite the out-bursts during worship service, so they needed to be
restrained in some fashion (maybe holding, maybe standing between
their wife and the person their wife was going to cat-claw, maybe
putting a rope around them and tying them down, maybe some other
type of restraining like a straight jacket) during services.
This was so bad that Paul even had to tell the husbands to teach
them restraint and to teach them to be under the husband's
authority, at home, somehow, in some manner.
Now, how would you do this at home, away from the situation of
many others coming together and where arguments could take place
if there was no order or an open forum was practiced? Would you
get the kids to confront their mother so she was close to an
out-burst, and then teach her to restrain? Would you call in the
neighbors and have them niggle your wife unto she was ready to
explode in vocal vociferousness, and then teach her to restrain?
Would you deliberately pick a fight with her to then teach her to
restrain from throwing the cooking pot at you?
I speak of course with tongue in cheek.
For the sake of the argument, we shall go along with the
supposition and theory of Zodhiates. By the time Paul wrote his
epistles it was just common practice within all the Churches of
God, that women were teaching, preaching, expounding the word of
the Lord in church services just as much as the men were. But
they were getting out of hand, just causing far too much
confusion, bringing too many out-bursts into the worship service,
and so Paul found it needful to tell the husbands to do some
teaching at home, so their wives would be more restrained and
come under their authority and be subject to them, not
usurping their husband's authority. How would he tell her she
had gone too far and was now usurping it over him? Would it be
if she spoke too often, or spoke too fast, or too slow, or too
continuously without a break for three minutes? Would it be if
he thought she was smiling too much at the other men in the
congregation? Or maybe, if she did not smile at him enough times
in any five minute period? Perhaps he would deem she had gone
beyond his authority if she did not allow him to speak, once
every ten minutes at least.
Maybe he would have to restrain her somehow if she laughed too
many times, or got a little emotional over a verse or point of
doctrine or someone else commenting on something.
I can see the people and couples and ministers of the church
spending large amounts of time trying to figure out how to
establish and practice this type of family instruction we are
to believe Paul was teaching to the husbands. Perhaps, when Paul
was alive he wrote it out for them in fine detail, but it got
lost along the way, and we today are left in the dark and left to
fend for ourselves, and figure it all out for ourselves. Oh, the
many hours of wrangling, disputing, arguing, fretting, and
confusion it would take and produce, to probably get nowhere in a
slow hurry. It would probably end up making as much sense as
the words "slow hurry."
A DIFFERENT SET-UP
IN THOSE DAYS
But why should there be any extraneous talking such as this?
In our modern congregations, families sit together, and we all
sit respectfully and listen to what is taking place.
In ancient times, however, the seating arrangement with which we
are familiar was probably not what people were using. Note this
passage from the Jewish New Testament commentary in reference to
1 Corinthians 14:
"Sha'ul [Paul] is answering a question (7:1) the Corinthians
asked about wives discussing with their husbands what is being
said while it is being said. This would disturb decorum even
if the wife were sitting next to her husband; but if the
universal Jewish practice of the time (and of Orthodox
congregations today) was followed, wherein women and men are
seated separately in the synagogue, it would obviously be
intolerable to have wives and husbands yelling at each other
across the m 'chitzah (dividing wall)."
Yes, of course it would be distracting and end in confusion if
many wives were asking their husbands questions about what was
being said, while it was still being said, while the speaker was
still teaching and expounding the word of the Lord. So Paul,
knowing that, also made sure his readers understood that his
directive for women to keep silent while the teaching part of the
service was under way, included even keeping silent concerning
questions their wives may have as the teaching service was under
way. They were to note their questions and ask their husbands for
answers when they were at home. And as I have already pointed
out, Paul was thus upholding the family structure by honoring the
husbands to answer their wive's questions and not the Eldership.
I would suppose if the husband did not know the answer he would
go to the Eldership for it, and then instruct his wife.
Another possible explanation for Paul's instructions to
husbands about their wives "speaking out" in the assembly is
this: During Paul's time most women were not very well educated.
Men were the ones that delved deeply into the issues of the day,
especially the issues relating to theology. Imagine a doctrinal
message being given in Corinth that requires a foundational
understanding of the topic. In order for individuals to
contribute to the edification of the assembly, they would need a
deeper understanding of the topic.
There may well have been great differences in the
educational levels among the men and women of the Corinthian
congregation, which led to confusion at times. As it was written
on another occasion, "We have much to say, and it is difficult to
explain, for you have become sluggish in hearing. Although you
should be teachers by this time, you need to have someone teach
you again the basic elements of the utterances of God. You need
milk, (and) not solid food" (Hebrews 5:11-12, The New American
The fault with this reasoning is that it forgets again the
context of the chapter and the context of the church in Corinth.
Here was a congregation blessed with more GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT
than probably any other congregation in the Churches of God at
that time. The gifts of the Spirit are given to all (including
women) as the Spirit distributes. What lack of formal education
some of the women in the church had, having a gift of the Spirit
would nullify, and when it would come to teaching and preaching
and expounding the word of the Lord, many a man and woman would
excel if filled with not only the Spirit of the Lord but also a
gift from that Spirit.
Imagine that we are the Corinthian congregation. Someone's
wife abruptly interrupts the meeting, on a fairly regular basis,
by asking a question in the middle of the discussion. It may
be a very good question. Yet, it would require such a digression
back into the fundamental levels of the topic that it takes away
from the edification intended for the whole group. To answer and
explain her question would not allow the topic to move forward.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with that, and occasional review
is good for everyone. The problem arises when this happens
week alter week. Some of the members have expressed feelings of
frustration over this situation.
Because we, in Corinth, wish to resolve this problem, and a
number of other problems we are currently experiencing in our
local fellowship, one of the leaders of the congregation sends a
letter to Paul in order to see how he would want us to handle
Paul sends us the letter that would later be known as the
book of 1 Corinthians. In the section of his letter giving
instructions about how our assemblies should be conducted, he
addresses the problem of handling interruptions by wives asking
questions of their husbands during the meeting, a process that
slows down the learning in the assembly.
He tells us, "Let your wives be at peace and in control of
themselves in the assembly, for it is not permitted for them to
be continuously speaking out and causing a disturbance. They are
to be subordinate to their husbands as we are instructed in the
scriptures. If they want to learn more about what is being
discussed, they should ask their husbands later, for it is
totally inappropriate for wives to speak out and disturb the
edification process in the assembly" (authors' paraphrase).
This way, husbands and wives can prepare together, ahead of
time, and discuss the background of a discussion topic, so they
can both be prepared to contribute and learn.
This discussion, and the instructions about husbands and
wives given in 1 Timothy, should help us better to understand the
group dynamics that were taking place at Corinth in the middle of
the first century and how Paul instructed them to properly
conduct their meetings.
Interesting scenario, but Paul's language is not what the authors
paraphrase. He could have used words like "peace" and
"self-control" and "continually speaking out." He could
have used words like "I hear your women are causing a disturbance
when the church comes together" and words such as, "I hear the
wives in your assembly are prone to out-bursts" or "as for the
wives asking questions while the prophet speaks." He could have
used words to say, "I hear the wives are speaking out and
edification is hindered." The Greek language had words for all
the above. Paul could have used them and written very similar
to what the authors give us in their paraphrase. BUT HE DID NOT!
And for one simple reason. That was not the problem as such, and
it was not the thought Paul was answering.
He was answering the logical question from all the talk on the
gifts of the Spirit that preceded (and all the instruction of
when, and how, and who could speak to edify, and some order given
in the number and control to be exhibited) up to verse 33, and
that question would be: Can the women use their gifts of the
Spirit in the teaching/preaching/expounding of the word to
edification, part of the church service? And Paul's answer was
"no" - they are to remain silent in this, even to the point of
asking no questions to their husbands about what is expounded,
but to save their questions and ask their husbands at home.
WHAT LAW IS REFERRED TO?
Next we need to consider the enigmatic phrase, "as the Law
says" (verse 34). What law does Paul mean?
The King James Version really gives womanhood a connotation
of slavery in its translation of verse 34: "Let your women
(gune, wife] keep silence in the churches: for it is not
permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under
obedience, as also saith the law." Notice how the KJV translators
have added the italicized phrase, "they are commanded." In the
KJV there is definitely a strong, domineering bias showing
through in this verse by the translators. Then, adding the phrase
about "the law" to back up what Paul was saying could make it
sound like the law, Paul, and churchmen in general were down on
The KJV is under attack once more, made out to be the murderer of
women. The words "they are commanded" are in italicized words in
the KJV, which the KJV tells you at the beginning are not in the
original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. I would find it much
more of a plot and clandestine plan if the scholars of the KJV
had not italicized these words but put them in matching letters
to the rest of the words that are in the Greek. I see no
deliberate bias here on the part of the KJV translators. Paul
was after all backing up his stand on this matter with "the law."
His authority to be so dogmatic on what he had just stated was
not from himself per se, not his idea at all. He had authority to
state what he did concerning women being silent and not using
their spiritual gifts in the teaching/expounding the word of the
Lord, part of the church service, from "the law."
It is interesting that the Greek word Paul chose to use for the
word "permitted" in the KJV carries the overtone of "command"
within it. See the Greek lexicons.
But what we are reading is the result of men translating
these verses while harboring the mental concept toward women that
we saw earlier! Yet, what this verse appears to say (in the
KJV) is not fully consistent with what we know of the love of God
that created these relation- ships.
Was there some terrible mental hate being exhibited by the KJV
translators towards women when they translated verse 34 of 1 Cor.
14 ? Oh, they added some words but told you by putting them in
italics that they are not technically in the Greek. Yet, we have
seen the word "permitted" in the Greek carries the overtone of
"command." The KJV translators were Greek scholars.
How do the modern Greek/English translators Green and Berry,
translate this verse? "Let the women of you in the churches be
silent, not for it is allowed to them to speak, but let them be
subject, as also the law says......a shame for it is for women in
church to speak" verses 34,35, as rendered into English by Jay P.
"Women yours in the assembly let them be silent, for it is not
allowed to them to speak; but to be in subjection, according as
also the law says.......for a shame it is for women in assembly
to speak" verses 34, 35, as rendered by George Berry.
As you see not that much different from the KJV. Are Berry and
Green biased towards women?
If you are a Greek scholar and you give a literal translation
from the Greek into English as close as possible going from one
language to another, then you translate as Green and Berry did,
and as the KJV translators did. All three very close to
translating with the same English words.
Of course you may want to say all three had bias towards women.
And I could say look up these verses in dozens of other
translations and you will find many more scholars of Greek with
bias towards women.
God is love, and He personally took a rib from Adam and made from
it a women. He looked at all He had created and made and said it
was "good." He has no bias towards women, He is perfect
righteousness, and it was He who inspired these words in verses
34 and 35 of 1 Cor. 14.
In His love for men and women He also created basic roles for
them, outside the church service and inside the church, when it
comes together into one place.
Let's understand what "the law" means.
"Law" is translated from the Greek word nomos (Strong's
#3551), which is always translated "law" in the KJV. However,
nomos can refer to any number of things: the Ten Commandments,
the Torah, Jewish customs and traditions, or even an agreed-upon
procedure. There is, in reality, no clear-cut law in scripture
authorizing men to subjugate women and treat them like children!
Now we see a psychological mind move here. If you are not
agreeing with the authors' reasoning and teachings on this
matter, and are still agreeing say with me, then you are not
understanding the Scriptures and still following the clandestine
plot supposedly planted in the KJV by the scholars who translated
for King James - and that plot was to subjugate and treat women
like children. I have read the KJV from the age of six years,
that is nearly 50 years ago now, and I have never once found any
passage in it that was teaching anyone to treat women like
children. So if the KJV scholars were trying to put forth that
instruction in some of their translations of the Hebrew and Greek
into English, they surely did a lousy job of it.
Paul may have been thinking of Genesis 3:16: "To the woman
he said, I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with
pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will
be for your husband, and he will rule over you."
There is another translation of this verse, which also needs
to be given consideration. It is found in a footnote of Genesis
3:16 in The New Living Translation: "Then he said to the
woman, "You will bear children with intense pain and suffering.
And though you may desire to control your husband, he will be
your master" [Or, "he will have dominion over you."].
According to this footnote, the thrust of the verse implies
that the wife may have a desire to be in control of her husband,
and thus the family. But, the instruction from our Father is that
the husband would have the dominant role in the God-ordained
family. This is more in line with the instructions from a loving
Father of how the marital relationship should be -- the husband
and father of the family having dominion and lovingly guiding and
leading the family. This lends a much better understanding of
this verse than the master/slave connotation the KJV gives. Why
would a wife "desire to control [her] husband"? The reason is
that she has rejected God's revealed knowledge of proper marital
relations. Was Paul referring to Genesis 3:16 when he said,
"as the law says" in I Corinthians 14:34? Perhaps. However, it's
also quite likely that Paul was actually making a non-specific
reference to the God-ordained set of family dynamics, as if to
"You are well aware of how the family should be run, so please
apply that knowledge in this situation."
The KJV in Gen.3:16 is not a good translation in some ways, but
the NLT given above is also not good in other ways. First of all
many women in the world do NOT have any "pain" in childbirth,
that this verse has taught many to believe. For generations many
have assumed it was natural and God's intent here to make sure
all women have physical pain when giving birth. Such is not the
case at all, and there are thousands upon thousands of women who
have delivered their babies naturally without any physical pain.
The Hebrew words here do not mean physical pain, but that is a
whole new subject. Granty Dick Reid in his ground-breaking book
"Childbirth Without Fear" goes into all this in great detail.
The last part of this verse the NLT has done a much better job in
translating than the KJV, or should I say understanding the
meaning and intent of the Hebrew. Jay Green gives the
literal translation of this verse this way: "to the woman He
said, greatly I will increase your sorrow and your conception, in
sorrow you shall bear sons, and your husband your desire
shall be, and he shall rule over you." So once more we see that
the KJV scholars did a pretty accurate translation of the Hebrew
into English, if we go with the literal translation and not a
paraphrase or interpretive translation.
Looking at all the Bible, and then understanding or interpreting
this verse, I agree with what the authors say above. For an
in-depth study of this I recommend the book before mentioned
called "Man and Woman in Biblical Perspective" by James Hurley.
As some Bible commentators state, when Paul said "the law" here,
he may not have been thinking about any one particular passage of
OT Scripture at all. He may simply have been stating that the
whole general teaching of the OT was that women were never given
the role by God to teach, preach, instruct, expound the word of
the Lord in official congregational gatherings when the church
came together into one place. The general reading of the OT
will clearly show forth that truth and give the reader that
instruction. No woman was ever a part of the official priesthood
of Israel that did all the praying and teaching on the holy
convocations - when the church (Israel was the church in the
wilderness - Acts 7:38) came together into one place.
"IN THE CHURCH"?
As we saw above, Paul wrote: "Let your women keep silence in
the churches." What did he mean by this?
Turning to Paul's letter to Titus, we read this: "Likewise,
teach the older women to he reverent in the way they live, not to
be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is
good. Then they can train the younger women to love their
husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy
at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that
no one will malign the word of God" (Titus 2:3-5, NIV).
Paul is instructing Titus to teach the older women to teach
the younger women! Women are to teach! "Yes," some will say,
"but this means at home, not during services." Remember,
though, that the scripture quoted earlier doesn't say that a
woman isn't to "speak during church services," but rather that it
is disgraceful for a woman to laleo in the church. Yet, here we
see that Titus is to instruct older women in the church to
instruct younger women in the church! While the first instance
may be construed to mean that people should not laleo "during
church services," or "during the assembly," this passage in Titus
is clearly talking about women "in the church" -- members of the
Body of Christ -- teaching other women who are also "in the
Of course they are going to say Paul was just saying in 1 Cor. 14
women should not "chit-chat" or be "asking questions" to their
husbands or others while some teaching is being presented, as it
causes distraction and hence confusion. But we have more than
just 1 Cor. 14 we also have 1 Tim. 2 on this matter. And as I
have tried to show, the problem was not "chit-chat" from women or
speaking in tongues no one could understand, for Paul had
already talked about that problem and instructed as what to do
about it. If it was confusing chit-chat from the women he then
wanted to correct, he could have easily used language like: "I
hear the women are talking to each other and asking questions to
their husbands while someone is expounding the word of the Lord.
Tell them to stop this talk as it brings confusion to the
Now to Titus. Please read carefully chapter two, read chapter one
also if you like. Can you find the word "church" in those
chapters? Can you find the words "when you come together into
one place"? Can you find the words "when the church comes
together"? No! Such words and phrases are just not there. Paul
is instructing Titus about certain things that he should instruct
others to do or not to do. He was to instruct the older men. He
was to instruct the younger men. He was to instruct servants. And
he was to instruct the older women. Yes, he was to tell the
older women they should instruct the younger women in certain
areas of their living. How would Titus do this instruction? Well
it certainly could be in sermons, but it certainly could also be
in private conversations he would have with the older and younger
women, anywhere - after services as they fellowshipped on the
Sabbath, in their homes as he visited them during the week, and
at other convenient times.
There is nothing in Titus to tell us when the older women should
teach the younger women these things mentioned. 1 Cor. 14 and 1
Tim. 2 would rule out that it would be during official church
services of teaching and expounding the word of the Lord, where
the whole church has come together with men present. And that is
what we need to understand, it is when men are present and it is
an official whole church coming together into one place to be
instructed and edified in the expounding of the word of the Lord,
that women are to remain silent in the teaching and expounding of
the word section of the service. And if they have any questions
about what is taught they are to ask their husbands at home.
The older women would not then be teaching the younger women
during this part of the service. Now if it was a woman's
"retreat" week-end and only women were there (as many churches do
hold such week-ends - they also have men only retreat week-ends)
then women would teach women. And older women could teach
younger women at such retreats. The Lord gives no instructions
in His word that prohibits women only retreats for one or more
days. Women would then teach women at these times.
The most natural times for older women to teach the younger women
what Paul wanted them to teach, is of course during more natural
times - everyday times - everyday living as the older and younger
women of the church would meet and fellowship during the week,
outside of the 2 hours or so a week that the church comes
together into one place.
Remember the phrase "church coming together" is not found in
Titus chapter two.
Here is a classic example of a phrase that may have more
than one meaning. The only way to really understand what is meant
by "in the church" (Greek: en ekklesia) is to look at the
context and the sentence structure, and note other occurrences of
I agree, but remember, the phrase "in the church" is not found in
Titus chapter two.
Notice these other examples of "en ekklesia":
Acts 7:38: "He (Moses) was in the assembly in the desert,
with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our
fathers; and he received living words to pass on to us."
I Corinthians 6:4: "There-fore, if you have disputes about
such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the
1 Corinthians 11:18: "In the first place, I hear that when
you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and
to some extent I believe it."
1 Corinthians 12:28: "And in the church God has appointed
first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then
workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those
able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and
those speaking in different kinds of tongues."
I Corinthians 14:19: "But in the church I would rather speak
five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand
words in a tongue."
I Corinthians 14:28: "If there is no interpreter, the
speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and
1 Corinthians 14:35: "If they want to enquire about
something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is
disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church."
Ephesians 3:21: "to him (God) be glory in the church and in
Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!
Colossians 4:16: "After this letter has been read to you,
see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that
you in turn read the letter from Leodicea."
As you can see, it's sometimes clear what is meant by this
phrase, but at other times you can't really be sure if it's
referring to the church people or the church gathering -- or
I agree. It is often the CONTEXT that must tell us how a word is
being used and not the mere "lexicon" meaning. But with that
said, I submit the context of 1 Cor. 14 tells us plainly how Paul
was using the phrase "in the church" or "when you come together
into one place." In fact the last phrase is the interpretation
of how Paul was viewing "in the church" in his discord correction
and instruction he was given them from verse 17 of chapter 11 to
the end of chapter 14. Certainly in chapter 12 and 13 there is a
broader aspect to include the whole body of believers in Christ
everywhere, but there can be no mistaking the much narrower
aspect of the local Corinthian assembly when they came together
into one place, when we read Paul's instructions and corrections
in chapter 11:17-34 and chapter 14. Chapter 11:17-34 is dealing
with that local congregation in the city of Corinth meeting to
observe the memorial of the death of Christ, on one particular
evening of the year at one particular location, as they came
together into one place (verse 20). Chapter 14 likewise. Various
wordings like that of verse 23, 24, 26-31, make it obvious
that Paul was talking about the things that were going on in
their individual church assembly at Corinth, when they met as a
whole church, when they came into one place.
TO BE CONTINUED