My Thoughts. . .

Monday, December 30, 2019

Sometimes a truth may reveal itself when a different statement is substituted.  The substitution is not made to change God’s word, only to direct the student to see God’s actual statement.  When twenty-first century prejudices, traditions, or culture substitutes expressions that are foreign to first century events, it creates misunderstandings.  Notice what Paul actually said in the following passage.

“Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says.  And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands AT HOME; for it is shameful for women to speak in church” (1 Corinthians 14:34-35).

Who are these women?  Some believe they are the prophetesses in 1 Corinthians 11:5. Some believe they are the wives of the prophets.  Some believe they are all females in the assembly.  Some believe this passage applies to any woman regardless of her location.  She is to be silent when men are present.  The Greek word “sigao,” translated “silence” in verse 34 is also used in correcting the prophets and tongue speakers (v.28 and v.30 “hold his peace”).

The Corinthian prophets were engaged in confusion not edification (v. 26).  Tongue speakers were adding their part by not have an interpreter to translate (v. 28).  They were to speak one at a time rather than at the same time.  Whoever these women were, they were guilty of adding to that confusion with their questions.  All three are told to be silent or hold their peace.  Prophets and tongue speakers were commanded to speak one at a time, with no more than three in their category speaking in that assembly.  If a tongue speaker did not have an interpreter, he must remain silent (sigao).  If a prophet received a new prophecy, the new one became the speaker and whoever was speaking was to remain silent as the new prophecy was given.  Those specific women were to ask their questions at home, NOT in the assembly!

Why do some readers change several expressions in the text?  One is changed from “SPEAK” to “PREACH.”  “LEARN” is changed to the word “TEACH.”  “ASK” is changed to “PREACH” or “TEACH” and the third expression, “AT HOME” is changed to “WHEN TEACHING WOMEN.”  The passage is made to say the following:

“Let ALL your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to PREACH; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says.  And if they want to PREACH, let them PREACH TO WOMEN; for it is shameful for women to PREACH to men in church.”

Check it out!  These women are ASKING, NOT preaching.  Their ASKING is disrupting the assembly just as much as the erring prophets and tongue speakers are.  They are ASKING their husbands, who apparently are the speaking prophets or tongue speakers.  Paul commands them to ASK at HOME, not ASK in CHURCH.

If the fault of those women was PREACHING, then Paul commands them to PREACH at HOME.  Some will disagree, but if so, they disagree with what Paul wrote.  Paul commanded these women to “shut up” (sigao) rather than ask their questions of their husbands IN CHURCH.  They are commanded to ASK at HOME in order to learn.  What they cannot do IN CHURCH, they are COMMANDED to do AT HOME.  If several couples go home with them nothing is changed and she may ask her husband at home what she cannot ask at church.  She is not violating scripture when she obeys Paul’s command.  She is simply following God’s instruction.

Paul’s instruction in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 has been abused, misinterpreted, and taken out of context.  If we follow the usual interpretation taught by some, wouldn’t that path cause the practitioners to be 1) guilty of ADDING to God’s word, 2) of going beyond what is written, 3) taking the passage out of its context, and 4) teaching another gospel (Galatians 1:6-9)?

If Paul’s instruction in this passage silences SPEAKING for ALL women in that assembly, then no female has the authority to SPEAK in song or confession.  Scripture is silent about a woman making here confession or singing in the 1 Corinthians 14 assembly.  Paul’s sigao in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 would restrict her in doing so in Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16, and Romans 10:9-10.  She would be required to do those actions AT HOME.

What does 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 actually say?