Should women stay quiet in the church? Check out verses 34 to 35 to find out! 1 Corinthians 14

Verse 15; When praying with the spirit, obviously one is in an emotional state.  That emotional state might have come about by God doing something very important for you.  You have a feeling of indebtedness to God and perhaps you show this outwardly through speaking in tongues.  Although this is important to you and it is important to Paul as well.  For the sake of other people praying with understanding is also important.  If everyone speaks in tongues and there is no interpretation there will be a lack of understanding and perhaps confusion.

Verse 16; Paul understands that the mind is the seat of understanding and it is where the spiritual battle takes place.  Blessing in the spirit can show thanks and gratitude but it cannot give reasons for this thanks and gratitude.

A person can only really be built up if he understands why!

Verse 18; I don’t know what to make of this verse.  Paul says that he speaks in tongues more than all of them.  What does he mean? Should we take this literally or is Paul using irony.

CK Barrett translates it as; “than any of you”.

If Paul was using irony, it would be to say that their gift wasn’t so important. On the other hand, I think it makes better sense to take it literally.  F.F. Bruce cites 2 Corinthians 123 In which Paul was caught up to heaven somehow and saw things that he wasn’t allowed to talk about!  If anyone could brag Paul could brag.  Even from a natural point of view, being a rabbi, he would have known possibly a few different languages; Hebrew, Greek and being a Roman citizen possibly Latin and also what language was spoken in Tarsus (a local Greek, or Aramaic). This is just guessing work. 

Verse 19-23; Although Paul could brag, that wasn’t the main point. In the Church one ought to speak intelligible words.  Paul is interested in order not chaos.  We have the same problems today in Churches.  In their thinking and speech, they should be mature. Concerning the evil, he is basically saying ‘stay away from it’. In verse 21 Paul quotes a verse from the Old Testament and he says that this is a sign for unbelievers (outsiders from the church).  Prophecy (preaching kind of) is for the believers (Those in the church)

Verse 23; There isn’t much point in tongues when outsiders walk into the church.  From Paul’s point of view, they will say that you are crazy.

When God speaks there is repentance.  There is one church there is order there will be convictions of the mind and heart.

Verse 25; He or she will see their sin and fall before God declaring that God is truly in that place.

Verse 26 give order to the church at Corinth. 

  1. A psalm; a hymn of worship
  2. A teaching; learning something new
  3. A revelation; a disclosure from God
  4. A tongue and interpretation; from experience.

Verse 27 coming to the final parts of Pauls argument about prophecy and speaking in tongues; Paul does not condemn tongues, but it has to be in a framework of order, and it must be for edification.

Verse 27; Paul gives directions for when they can speak in tongues and interpret.

Verse 28; No interpreter = no tongues spoken in the Church, but he can speak in tongues to himself and to God. 

Prophets were around for quite a long time in the church and there were directions on how to spot false ones. The information can be found in the Didache an early church manuscript.

Verse 29; when a prophet speaks the others had to check what they were saying was from God.

Verse 30; When God discloses something, this has to be done in order. Letting someone else speak is important.

Verse 31; Prophecy isn’t the way it was understood in the first century.  William Barclay and Margaret E Thrall make the point that it is closer to preaching as we understand it today.  We actually touched on this earlier in the chapter.

Verse 32; Prophets are not robots; they can also make decisions.

Verse 33: Order in the churches is very important.  Paul has pushed this agenda very hard.

Verses 34 – 35; These two verses are seriously misunderstood I hope my explanation helps;

1 Corinthians 14 34-35 Women being silent in the church.

Before we begin let us look at the places in which Paul uses the ‘keeping silent’ phrase.  There were different types of people that had to say silent in the Church under certain conditions.   At first reading it seems on the surface that Paul was biased towards women, but this is reading a 21st century mindset on to a first century document.   Within the congregation probable inherited from Judaism that women were not allowed to read the scripture publicly. All that Paul did was to validate a law that was already accepted by the churches in the first century.  I think that sometimes feminists find a pink elephant in an empty room devoid of historicity.  This is one of those situations. 

28 but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. 1 Corinthians 14:28

30 But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. 1 Corinthians 14:30

34 The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. 1 Corinthians 14:34

In the following article there is evidence to suggest that Paul wasn’t putting women down, only following a legal tradition accepted by first century Christians;

“An Inequality In Jesus’ time, women participated fully in the religious life of the community. This included participation in synagogue services and in the regular study sessions that were conducted in the synagogue’s bet midrash (house of study). There was no separation of the sexes in synagogues, and women could be counted as part of the required congregational quorum of ten adults. There was, however, one inequality. For social reasons, women were not allowed to read the Scriptures publicly.

In the Babylonian Talmud and the Tosefta, we find an early rabbinic (tannaic) ruling: “All are qualified to be among the seven [who read from the Torah in the synagogue on the Sabbath], even a minor or a woman; however, the sages ruled that a woman should not read from the Torah out of respect for the congregation.”21 This is apparently a reference to the same social custom or decorum that we find mentioned in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians: “Women should keep silent in the churches. They are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Torah states. If they want to learn anything, they should ask their husbands at home, for it is a disgrace for a woman to speak in the congregation.”22

Paul felt it necessary to issue his corrective because in early Christian congregations, following Jewish practice, it was permissible and customary to interrupt the preacher to ask questions. In first-century synagogues, a sermon followed the reading of Scripture. This exposition of Scripture was more a lesson than a sermon, and congregants were encouraged to ask questions. In fact, the asking of questions was so central to the rabbinic teaching method that often the preacher-teacher began his sermon by just seating himself and waiting until someone from the audience asked a question. There is a whole category of Jewish literature called xxx xxxxx (ye lam DE nu ra BE nu, May our teacher instruct us). It is similar to what we now call “Questions and Answers.” Today public speakers often employ a Question-and-Answer period, especially as a means of clarification at the end of a lecture. In first-century Jewish society this approach was usually the main method of instruction.

From Paul’s injunction we learn that at public religious gatherings of early Christians, women sat with men in the same hall, perhaps even next to their husbands or fathers. Paul’s command itself implies a mixed audience: there would have been nothing indecorous about a woman asking a question in a group composed entirely of women.

If there had been separation of men and women in first-century synagogues, it is likely that the early church would have continued the custom. However, the New Testament gives no indication that the early church had such a custom.” From https://www.cbeinternational.org/resource/article/priscilla-papers-academic-journal/place-women-first-century-synagogues

Verse 36; Paul challenges their pride that they think higher of themselves.  Verse 37; It is ok to be a Prophet but please follow Pauls advice. 

Verse 38; If anyone contradicts Paul and does not recognize what he said then they should not be recognized

Verse 39-40; Both prophecy (preaching) and speaking in tongues is allowed but desire prophecy more.  Make sure that everything in church is done in an orderly manner. 

I will return to this chapter at some point but before I finish, I found some of William Barclays words interesting here.  He said that in the early church they did not have professional ministers, and everyone had to take part somehow in the churches.  We may have gained something with having a main minister, but we might have also lost out.  Lost out because congregations don’t do much spadework like their predecessors from the early church.

You can also visit my other blog at; https://hasan-godtalk.blogspot.com/       

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: