Monday, January 4, 2016
“Let your women keep silence in the assemblies: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the assembly.” (1 Corinthians 14:34-35).
Paul told the Corinthian women to do at home what they were not to do in the public assembly. It was shameful “in church,” but permissible at home!
Priscilla taught a preacher the truth “at home” and was commended by God and man. She and her husband Aquila were in the synagogue assembly where Apollos spoke. They recognized that he did not understand the difference between John’s baptism and the one in Acts 2:38-41. Luke tell us that, “they took him unto them” (Acts 18:26 KJV). Later translations render this as, “they invited him to their home.” They could have gone there, or may have taken him to one side, in the synagogue worship center, and taught him privately. They did not disrupt him while he was speaking, but saw him afterwards. In today’s terminology, it was a Bible study or class different to the kind of meeting Apollos had previously been engaged in.
Paul wrote to the Corinthian church around 52-53 A.D. He used the word “silence,” which is different from the word used twice, some ten years later, when writing to Timothy (1 Timothy 2:11-12). With Timothy, he used the word (ήσυχία), which means “a quiet like speaking” whereas the Corinthians word (σιγάω) means, “total or absolute silence.” In 1 Timothy 2 she may speak and teach a man as long as she isn’t being domineering. It would be the kind of speaking or teaching which Priscilla did. In the Corinthian passage Paul restricts women to not speaking at all, but to be absolutely silent as far as the kind of speaking they were guilty of. No sound whatsoever! They could save that speech for their husbands when they got home.
If a woman is to be totally silent in what most would call “the sanctuary,” why are they allowed to sing or confess their faith there? Doesn’t singing and confessing involve speaking and/or teaching (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16: Romans 10:9-10)? Either he is forbidding both actions, or it illustrates that Paul was restricting a specific kind of speech, but not the form used by the Corinthian women when they sang or confessed their faith. Neither is that kind of speaking considered “shameful”! What he silences is the specific kind they were engaged in, which was shameful! Shameful then; shameful today!
In that section of the Corinthian letter, Paul admonished the brethren, in their assembled activities, to speak “that the assembly may receive edifying. . . . seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the assembly. . . . and. . . .Let all things be done unto edifying.” (1 Corinthians 14:5, 12, 26). Following Paul’s restriction to the tongue speakers, prophets, and the women being addressed, he exhorted, “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40). This instruction was not limited to Corinth, but was to be observed “in all assemblies of the saints” (1 Corinthians 14:33). That would also include today’s public assemblies.
Apparently the problem had become so formidable in the public assembly, that Chloe’s family had mentioned it in a letter to Paul. The reward for those women who were disruptive was shame and digressing the Genesis 3:16 law (1 Corinthians 14:34). Paul’s simple solution was, “ask. . .at home” (v.35).