Should women be silent in church? (1 Corinthians 14:34-35)

My three daughters are growing up in a country where women often reach the highest levels of leadership. In New Zealand we’ve had female heads of state and government and everything else besides. As a father, I am thrilled that my daughters will be able to do just about anything they put their mind to.

As long as they don’t aspire to preach, teach, or speak in church.

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. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church. (1 Cor 14:34-35)

This scripture, along with 1 Timothy 2:12 (which we will get to in the next article), has been used to muzzle women and deny the church of the gifts they bring. Is Paul really saying women should stay silent?

No way!

Forgive me for getting angry, but as a father and a husband, this idea that “women need to keep their mouths shut” boils my blood. I hope to make you angry too – righteously angry – so that you will speak up for those who have been silenced by religious traditions.

Why does Paul say women are not permitted to speak?

According to one tradition, women in church chatter like children and need to be hushed up. Um, yeah, that’s not offensive.

According to another tradition, the uneducated ladies of Corinth interrupted sermons with annoying questions. They lacked the common decency to remain silent when others were talking. In other words, they were dumb and rude, you know, as women tend to be.


Aside from being offensive to women and slanderous to Paul, these common interpretations are totally unsupported. There is zero evidence that the Corinthian ladies were church chatterboxes.

“Paul is giving a commandment. ‘Women must remain silent.’ It’s in the Law.”

Ah yes, about that Law. Search the Old Testament and you will find no law forbidding women to speak. It’s simply not in the Bible. Even if there were such a rule – and there isn’t – wouldn’t you find it odd that that the apostle of grace was preaching law?

So what’s going on here?

There was no law but there was a rabbinical tradition among the Jews that forbade women from asking questions in the assemblies.

The Jewish religion of Paul’s day was sexist in the sense that women were not allowed to participate in religious ceremonies or enter the best bits of the temple. (Ever seen a map of the Jerusalem Temple and wondered about the Women’s Court? That was as far as they could go. It was like going to church and leaving your wife in the carpark.)

The ideal woman, according to first-century Judaism, was silent and out of sight. If she went into the synagogue, she sat in crummy seats and kept quiet while the men talked.

Religion sought to silence women, but Jesus and the apostles encouraged them to speak. On the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out on all, and those who spoke in tongues included both men and women. This shocked the Jewish onlookers, so Peter stood up and said:

This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people, and your sons and daughters will prophesy. (Acts 2:16-17)

Evidently the Holy Spirit didn’t get the memo about women staying silent in church.

Then Paul came along and said this:

Now to each one (male and female) the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good… Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy… (1 Cor 12:7, 14:39, NIV)

Paul was eager for all, male and female, to prophesy and speak in tongues. So why does he say that women are not permitted to speak? He doesn’t. He’s quoting a question raised by the Corinthians.

An epistle of Q&As

The second half of Paul’s letter contains his response to several Corinthian questions:

Now concerning the things about which you wrote (1 Cor 7:1)
Now concerning virgins… (1 Cor 7:25)
Now concerning things sacrificed to idols… (1 Cor 8:1)
Now concerning spiritual gifts… (1 Cor 12:1)
Now concerning the collection for the saints… (1 Cor 16:1)

The Corinthian church was young and naïve. They didn’t have a clue about how to do communion, and evidently they had bought into this misogynistic Jewish rule that said women must be silent in meetings. The Corinthians asked Paul what he thought about this issue. In his reply to their question, Paul repeats what they had heard – that women were not permitted to speak, just as the (Jewish) Law says – before giving them his response:

What? Came the word of God out from you? Or came it unto you only? (1 Cor 14:36, KJV)

In other words, “Are you guys nuts? By commanding women to be silent do you think you are speaking from the heart of the Father? Do you really think – and I’m shaking my head here – that you have heard from God?”

If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment. (1 Cor 14:37)

“If you think you’re so spiritual, stop heeding manmade traditions and listen to what I have to say about the matter.”

But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant. (1 Cor 14:38, KJV)

“Let the ignorant yahoo who teaches this stupidity remain ignorant if he does not acknowledge that what I write is from the Lord.”

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. (1 Cor 14:39, NIV)

“I wish that you all – men and women – spoke in tongues, just as all did on the Day of Pentecost. Do not forbid it! And I wish even more that all – men and women – would prophesy” (1 Cor 14:5).

Read the whole letter and Paul’s message could not be clearer: every member of Christ’s body, whether male or female, young or old, is vital. Every part is needed. Of course, women can speak, prophesy, sing, shout, speak in tongues, and do whatever is proper and fitting in church. Indeed, we need them to because God has given every one of us gifts and talents.

“Strong words, Paul. But I’m not ready to overturn my precious traditions. If I gave the mike to my wife, there could be chaos.”

Then you need to repent and renew your mind because you are quenching the Spirit. You are missing out on the good things God wants to give to you through the fairer sex.

“I dunno Paul. You’re a lone blogger speaking against my denominational teaching. You’re going to stir up trouble with this modern message.”

This is no new revelation. It’s been around a while. It is even found in study bibles such as the 1991 Spirit-Filled Life Bible edited by Jack Hayford. Look it up. And then go look up all the influential women that Paul praised in his letters. Some were apostles, and some were pastors. Others were preachers who contended alongside with Paul for the gospel.

The first-century women who changed the world were many things. But what none of them were was silent.


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77 Comments on Should women be silent in church? (1 Corinthians 14:34-35)

  1. It’s just what the Bible says, it’s not that insecure men can’t handle being challenged by women. Haha! Truthfully, grace frees us from this type of thinking because it frees us from the condemnation of the law. Thanks Paul!

    • preston shires // February 26, 2019 at 5:05 pm // Reply

      If Paul is addressing the women with “came [the word] only to you,” why is the word “only” masculine? If he were singling out women, wouldn’t he use the feminine? At least in Latin it’s solos (masculine plural) and I believe the Greek “monous” is masculine as well, though I don’t know Greek. But “vos solas,” in Latin, would make it clear that he was addressing the women. But that’s not how Jerome translated it. So just a question.

      • Not sure why you think he’s addressing the women. He’s speaking to the Corinthians – all of them. Masculine plural nouns in Greek are not gender exclusive.

  2. Thank you for this wonderful presentation of truth, Paul Ellis!

  3. Great to hear this, Paul … all too often, women have been silenced in the church.
    What does the Bible say about women ‘teaching’ in church or ‘leading’ from the pulpit? Are they ‘permitted’ to teach ‘men’ in the church?

  4. Thank you for writing on women. I am not a feminist at all, nor do I believe that is correct, as it causes separation. I believe in what Paul stated when he said, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for your are all ONE in Christ Jesus.” Gal 3:28 Why did Paul write this if it were not true?? I don’t look at a male counterpart as a male, but as being equal with me in Christ on a Spiritual realm. I don’t look at our status (bond or free) or our color or background (Jew/Greek). If the cross made us all one in Christ Jesus…………and it did, our Lord desires unity……to live as one. The Apostle Paul was given a huge revelation of the finished work of the cross to give to us. Why do we fight it!! It is flesh!!!, not Spirit.

  5. Love your stuff in stepping into Reality!!! Keep up the good work!!

  6. Just a thought in relation to there being no law.
    In 1 Timothy 2 v 9-15 where Paul is raising the same issue, to give authority to his statements in verses 11 and 12 he does not use the law which the Jews were using to establish their own righteousness but the law which is ordained by God in the creation of mankind, For Adam was first formed then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

  7. Sam Griffith // October 18, 2017 at 3:14 am // Reply

    Honest question Paul, because I agree with your assessment based on what I’ve read in the New Testament, but I’m having a hard time with 1 Corinthians 14:34-35. When I read it with the rest of the section, it seems to be a list of instructions to keep the worship gatherings orderly. Is it possible that this is a structural translation issue? Or do you think its a situation where Paul is encouraging the Corinthians to be “all things to all people” and avoid offending the Jews as he talks about elsewhere?

    I definitely agree that there is no evidence at all that the early church silenced women, I’m just trying to make sense of this particular section because it seems so out of place.

    • My interpretation of these two verses is in the article above. Paul is not giving them an instruction at all. He’s repeating a question put to him. At the beginning of verse 36 there is a word that is sometimes left untranslated, but the King James Bible has it as “What?” and the Amplified has it as “What!” So Paul repeats their ridiculous thinking – that women should stay silent – then says “What?!” His tone is that they are nuts for thinking like this. The context of the following verses makes it plain that he does not agree with this absurd teaching at all, but would rather than men and women spoke in church.

      • Sam Griffith // October 18, 2017 at 7:03 am //

        I did see you’re interpretation but I got stuck on the context. However, after looking at a few different translations I totally see what you were referring to. Looking at YLT actually helped a lot because it seems that several translations have difficulty in figuring out how to structure this section and a literal interpretation of the passage makes your interpretation of the context make a lot more sense.

  8. Matheus Almeida // October 18, 2017 at 3:29 am // Reply

    Wooow man.. This is wonderful!! And i have been judging Paul because these verses for years lol

    Portuguese King James Version says something different from the English. Its like: “As in all churches of the saints, let your women 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.” (1 Cor 14: 33b-34) It sounds like in all the churches they commanded women keep silence. But when i read the english version, the meaning changed at all.
    This post actually cleared my mind. I’m so happy!! 🙂

  9. Thank you Paul. Leave it to us men to twist things in such a way so that we can feel good about ourselves, when in fact, we should be ashamed. The desre of a teacher is to see the one he is teaching grow in faith and knowledge and to be able to demonstrate what they have learned through word and deed. The greatest teacher, the Holy Spirit, wants this for all His children, both men and women. Another myth bites the dust. Well done brother! I once read in one of your articles about wether it leads to ” life or death” and I am interested in hearing more if you have the time or inclination. Thank you!

  10. I’m from South Africa and what I don’t get is that we made a massive issue around racism here and in the rest of the world, but we’re unable to see that as christians we promote sexism in our churches. I was taught with glee, that there will be no female leaders in our church stream and it just sounded pathetic. God prepared good works in advance for us all to do. Does it mean that not one lady has ever been called to church leaderhship? The church, with this teaching, has abused women for ages and we need to repent for our behaviour towards the fairer sex. As a man who sat quietly for a long time while women were being left voiceless by incorrect teaching fueled by insecurity of leadership, I apologize to the ladies who have been wronged in this way. You are not Jezebel when you have an opinion. You are not ‘non-submissive’ because you spoke up. You are equal in value and we need you to be you. Being you glorifies Him.

  11. This is fascinating to me and resonates in my heart. Could you provide a source for this sentence -“There was no law but there was a rabbinical tradition among the Jews that forbade women from asking questions in the assemblies.” I have never been comfortable with the idea that this scripture was only dealing with the Corinthian church and its new believers, but resigned myself to just not understanding it. Thank you so much! Vivian Foster

    • I’m the source; I wrote that sentence. It’s easy to prove there was no law in the Bible forbidding women to speak, because there isn’t. The subject of sexism within Judaism is contentious. Out of curiosity I googled it and read the most baseless defenses of institutional sexism, like this: “I’m a woman, I don’t enjoy the same privileges men do in the assemblies, but that’s God’s way so it’s not sexist and I’m happy with that.” Look at the maps in the back of your Bible, study the Jerusalem Temple, and note the Women’s Court. That was as close as they got to the good stuff.

  12. Jim Kenderdine // October 18, 2017 at 6:56 am // Reply


  13. This has always been my “reality” on that scripture. What about the women who don’t have a husband or has one who doesn’t attend, who does she ask for the answer after she leaves?? This scripture assumes all women have a husband that attends this church with them. I always wondered if one of the Judaizes slipped something in there when Paul wasn’t watching!! Just my funny thoughts!! I love the set free body of believers in the Gospel of Grace!!! Thanks Paul, I so appreciate the Reality….charge!!

  14. This is my favourite line: “Evidently the Holy Spirit didn’t get the memo about women staying silent in church.” A lot of church is conducted in ways that suggest the leaders didn’t get any memos from the Holy Spirit either.

  15. J.T. Hendrix // October 18, 2017 at 8:44 am // Reply

    Praise God! I was reading to a friend just this Sunday last from this very chapter and got to those verses and was like, This gets taken out of context and is not God’s will—it’s not His will to silence His adopted daughters.

    But. To be transparent, I wasn’t able to explain why as thoroughly as you did in this article. So thank you for sharing. I’ll send her the link 🙂

  16. Rowan Durward // October 18, 2017 at 9:31 am // Reply

    Amen !! Paul 😊

  17. can you explain how adelphos in v.39 is translated “brothers and sisters”? strongs has it is a masculine noun meaning brother.

    And more explanation for why only the KJV translates v. 36 as “What?”

    I appreciate your teaching as I wrestle with this issue.

    • The KJV is not the only translation that has the word “what?” at the start of verse 36. Many other translations have it as well. The real question is why some translations don’t bother translating all of Paul’s words.

      If you enjoy studying the meaning of words, I encourage you to check out Vine’s Expository Dictionary. WE Vines has a nice discussion of the various meanings of the word brethren.

  18. Thank you for this great article, Paul! I have believed these things to be true in my heart for awhile now, even though I didn’t have any ‘solid’ proof against the usual teaching. I just couldn’t live with the bondage and contradiction it caused anymore, so decided to reject it and wait for an explanation to show up that came in line with what I have learned to be true of God and His Word. I recently devoured an older book regarding this topic which began my journey of understanding along these lines, and your articles have brought even more joy and confirmation, I can’t tell you. It’s really something to come out of the shame and heaviness of such false teaching about women after so many years!

    Btw, I enjoy all of your articles and books, and love your ministry!!

    Just curious, would you recommend the 1991 Spirit-Filled Life Bible edited by Jack Hayford in general, Paul? Or just for certain passages? I’ve never heard of it and am on the lookout for a good study Bible/ tool.

    • I don’t recommend any particular study Bible. They all have pros and cons. I just happened to have this one within reach when I was writing my article and was pleasantly surprised to find that one of the editors held a similar view.

  19. We all are teachers to some degree, from the least to the greatest.
    With that being said, I believe the man should indeed be the leader of the household, and wife should submit to him. And him treat her, with love and respect in return. But, outside of the household, we are all teachers in some degree.. to a lost world. Just my take. I have shifted positions on this subject over the months. We should all be open and willing to recieve correction on areas of study. Not one of us has everything right. Shalom!

    • William MacDonald // December 2, 2017 at 11:01 pm // Reply

      If man has been called to be the leader and protector of his household, does it not make sense that he has also called man to be the leaders and protectors of the church? After all true biblical church is simply an extension of family life isn’t it? “for if a man does not know how to rule his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?” 1 Tim Ch3 v 5 (We cannot look to the institutional church for our example, it’s badly deformed and totally unbiblical). For some reason the majority of Christians seem to miss this very important point. Institutional Christianity has a lot to answer for, for all this confusion. The majority of Christians experience of church life and practice has very little in common with the experience of church life and practice of the early church. If the apostle Paul walked into one of our modern day church services, I’m pretty sure he would be confused and want to know what on earth is going on here!!!

  20. Honestly I think Johnny Tatum has a great study on this, in our earliest manuscripts these verses are not even there in 1 Cor, they were added.

    I have heard many interpretations on this matter but I think your’s and johnny’s are the best.
    I used to have a Jack Hayford study bible, it was my first bible as a believer. Good times, lol.

    I have heard from Joseph Prince that the reason Paul wrote that is because in that time men and women sat on opposite sides whether in homes or synagogues so if the wife wanted to ask the husband something she would have to yell across the room to speak with him.

    JP’s interpretation is kind of weak in my opinion.

    Most women now a days are all smarter than me, lol. So I have no problem with them helping me out or teaching me something. I do agree though especially in Romans 16 there are many women given many mentions. Phoebe who seemed to be a leader as well (16:1-2)Priscilla who risked her life for Paul, Mary and Junia (16:3-7), Tryphena, Tryphosa, Persis, Rufus’s mother and Paul’s (16:12-13), Julia and Nereus’s sister as well to name a few (16:15).

    • There are so many religious myths that get passed off as fact: (1) The Romans tore the Temple stones apart looking for gold in AD70. (2) The Corinthians sat apart from each other like religious Jews. People believe these stories because they hear them in church, but dig a little and you’ll find they’re totally unsubstantiated.

  21. While you know me and know I am for women in ministry, am for women holding any place a man can hold in ministry and leadership because in Christ there is no difference in women and men. I know there is no rule barring women from speaking, I am sorry to say I have to strongly disagree with this article. Only because my brother it seems your grasping for straws. You seem to have mistakenly used modern thinking to apply to an ancient society. A simple history lesson reveals education levels (which wasn’t much) and role in society of women at this time in mankind’s history. We strongly disagree with sexism and oppression of women, but we can’t erase history to make it more acceptable to our renewed and modern understanding. At this time in human history, women were 2nd class citizens. That is a fact regardless of our feelings and we can’t change it.
    I read a dozen translations of this passage and I can’t see one supporting your view. In context, Paul simply says women (wives) if you have questions ask your husband at home. In the flow of context, Paul is dealing with the order in a worship service. Suggesting the view that Paul’s instruction is merely about interrupting service with questions is a sexist viewpoint, when Paul clearly references asking questions is groundless. The Message Bible confirms my view.

    • *Trying to be as clear and concise as possible so as not to be misunderstood. At this time in human history, women were deprived of the same rights, standing in society, and education opportunities as men. Because this fact is uncomfortable we can’t alter our past to make it more pleasing to our modern sensibilities. If you put a group of people who were deprived of an education,( due to no fault of their own but the ignorance of those domineering over them), in a room and began teaching the Scriptures to them it is obvious they could interrupt because they wouldn’t have much understanding. How often when I first heard Grace, because I was deprived of a spiritual education, did I want to interrupt a Grace preacher and ask questions.
      I don’t accept your concept, that the view that Paul in 1 Cor 14 is merely saying don’t interrupt service and is not about a rule against women preachers, is an offensive sexist viewpoint when all of your Bible translations translate this difficult passage in this very manner.

      • Don’t you find it odd that Paul, who has spent chapters encouraging women to speak in tongues and prophesy in church, is now telling them to be silent? Don’t you find it odd that he offers no hope for the unmarried woman who desires to learn but has no husband to learn from? Don’t you find it odd that some English Bibles omit to translate his exclamation “What?!” at the end of this controversial passage? Doesn’t the Bible say something about those who leave words out?

        Our “modern sensibilities” have caused us to dismiss the apostle as sexist or the Corinthian women as rude and ourselves as enlightened, but these interpretations are inconsistent with what Paul wrote.

      • I can’t respond to your comment. But Let me say I read the notes in the Jack Hayford study Bible you reference. It mentioned your take but stated the issue being addressed is about disruption. The scholar states that is the best interpretation. Are the scholars sexist too? My friend your ignoring my context and context of what Paul said. In the context of disruption he told them to be silent. He wasn’t making some arbitrary rule that they should never speak or teach or flow in the Gifts. It’s not calling them rude or accusing them of anything. You seem to dismiss manners and customs of the time. Often the males and female were completely separated during gatherings. The entire Corinthian church were carnal and none of them were mannerly hence the need for correction in chapter 12-14. I still don’t see how stating the obvious issue somehow bleeds out into a All or nothing debate. I can encourage you to flow in the Gifts and also tell you to be quiet if your being disruptive. Two distinct situations. They don’t contradict each other.

      • Except Paul is not telling disruptive women to be silent; that’s not what the text says. Scholars like to water down his words and frame the issue as “disruptive women,” but that’s an inference. Corinthian women shouting in church? Again there’s zero mention of this happening. It’s another inference. Women sitting separately from men? In a Jewish assembly, sure, but this was a Gentile church. Why would the carnal Corinthians act like religious Jews?

        These speculations about disruptive women shouting across the aisle make no sense. Just because some guy with a PhD said so doesn’t make it so. But the definitive blow to these outlandish speculations is Paul’s mention of the law. The fact is there is no law in scripture that that says women must remain silent. So if Paul was preaching law – and he wasn’t – it was an unbiblical one.

        See the contradiction? If Paul was quoting an extrabiblical law, then he was no expert in the law and we shouldn’t trust him. But if Paul was an expert in the law, and he was, then we should not heed this law.

        The context seems plain enough. Paul has spent the second half of his letter responding to the Corinthian’s questions and he’s doing that here. He is not quoting some law that’s not in the Bible; he’s quoting them. The Corinthians, like many people today, thought it was a law that women should remain silent in church and not ask questions. Paul’s snorting response, which begins in verse 37, makes it plain what he thinks of this nonexistent law.

      • John W Reed // October 20, 2017 at 3:18 pm //

        My friend and brother. We agree on so much. You must admit that. We obviously both agree on the main point. That Christian women aren’t 2nd class citizens of Heaven. That they are gifted, anointed, stirred up by the Spirit, just like their male counterparts. In Christ, we are all one. We may disagree with this interpretation but we still end up with the same conclusion. Let peace reign.

  22. Colleen Gleason // October 19, 2017 at 2:24 am // Reply

    One of the Greek resources I looked at for this silent didn’t really mean quiet or shut up. It just meant non-argumentative and peaceable. So much more gospel and grace friendly than “Shh! Be quiet.”

  23. Jeffrey Simon // October 19, 2017 at 2:35 am // Reply

    Great article, Paul. Classical Greek Scholar, Dr. Ann Nyland, in “The Source New Testament discusses how 1 Corinthians 14:36 has been terribly mistranslated and that two instances of the disjunctive particle have been deleted. Her translation reads “Utter rubbish! Did the Word of God come originally from you! Utter rubbish! Were you the only ones that it reached!” Oh what we lose when we silence half of the body of Christ.

  24. Paul- I’m not digging that photo you have of the gal with her mouth covered by the guy’s hand….seems a little assaultish if you know what I’m saying. Maybe considering lightening it up a bit?

  25. Barbara LaMaina // October 19, 2017 at 10:24 am // Reply

    Thank you, Paul. I agree with your interpretation of the scriptures regarding women in ministry, but I didn’t always.
    Fortunately our pastor agrees with you and it has freed me. If anyone in Lakewood Ranch, Florida is looking for a Grace Church, check us out on line – Grace Community Church. We have an amazing pastor and are a fast growing church. You can listen to the sermons on line.

  26. Did my comment get deleted?

  27. By the way the (WEB) version of this verse is great…

    1 Corinthians 14:34-36World English Bible (WEB)

    34 let your wives keep silent in the assemblies, for it has not been permitted for them to speak; but let them be in subjection, as the law also says.
    35 If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home, for it is shameful for a woman to chatter in the assembly.
    36 What? Was it from you that the word of God went out? Or did it come to you alone?

  28. My Gooooodddd! Paul, I am sending this to everybody I know! Every pastor, man, woman! My mom, dad!!! I was just asking God about this, literally, just yesterday, maybe the day before. With all the other Scriptures (i.e., “no male/female,” etc) and just the sense of offense, I just did not believe it the way it came across. Most in my circle believe the “traditional get-around,” but it was weak, as one poster puts it – to say the least! Even Pastor Prince doesn’t have this revelation yet! Because of this, he soon will. I have read dozens of articles on this and not one connected verse 36, “the What? verse” to verses 34 and 35. After reading your article, I looked up in a great commentary, my favorite of the 1700’s, Gills Bible Exposition, and surprisingly, he has the correct interpretation. It’s pretty amazing, he says Paul answered in this sense,

    “What? came the word of God out from you?…. That you must give laws to other churches, and introduce new
    customs and practices never known or used before?” And went on to say, “…churches [that came before
    them, like the church of Judea and others] from whence the word of God came…, disallowed of any such

    Your post immediately reversed 28 years of erroneous, unsatisfying, and sloppy exposition. GOD BLESS YOU FOR DOING YOUR RESEARCH AND POSTING THIS. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!! AWESOMENESS!!! AND FREEEEDDDDOOOMMM AT LAST! Wait ’til I tell Theresa about this!

  29. Thanks so much for this, Paul. Wow. It all just snapped into place and years of anxiety and oppression have lifted.
    I never realized apostle Paul was re-quoting their question/statement and then negating it with an outraged “What?!” It is very healing to me to see how vehemently he attacked this damaging philosophy.
    I have wondered about this passage for years as it seems to contradict so much of the gospel truth the apostle Paul conveys everywhere else. Years of misrepresentation of this passage has kept me silenced. I remember working at a Christian organization and at staff bible studies the other women would glare at me if I spoke up when the Pastor asked for group discussion. Evidently only the males were expected to speak. Everyone was indoctrinated into this but I kept feeling the Holy Spirit prompting me that it was not from Him.
    I’m so glad you explained this so well.

  30. Have you ever considered that in the context Paul is addressing a specific group of women in these verses? Verse 32 speaks of the prophets and verse 34 says “Let YOUR women (wives) keep silence in the churches (context is church meetings). Paul is saying the prophet’s wife needs to ask her questions at home and not in the public meeting. The husband is the head of the wife (and family) and her familiarity with him can be undermining to his public office if she asks questions, disagrees, etc.
    This is a reproof epistle and Paul is reproving the prophets’ wives who may think they know more than their husbands do as displayed in verse 36. This would be out of order as verse 40 states.
    Like you, I want to allow God to speak through his word and not cloud my understanding because of my beliefs, emotions, experience or culture.

  31. toeson diggs // June 9, 2018 at 2:57 am // Reply

    For the first-century women to participant in a deliberative action in the religious assemblies would have been disobedience to the authority of God through man.Perhaps in today’s culture,where women are invited to participant,their silence is not requiredin the Church inorder to show proper respect to their husbands or Church lesdership.This interpretation mentions here maintains that as long as the male leadership in the home and Church is honored,women should be free to speak in the Church because the Spirit of the passage is fullfilled

    • Elaine Urie // June 12, 2018 at 4:51 am // Reply

      Women are so much a part of the “now days assembly”, they are a huge part of evangelism, prophecy of God’s Word, Proclaimers and even teachers…….but certainly we all need to be under authority, whether Jesus the head, husbands, leaders, assembly’s authority. I love the scripture that states we are one in Christ………I can work with a man/authority who understands that principle, Christ made us one in HIm for the purpose of being Ambassadors and an individual’s ministry for Christ as well. He is still the HEAD of His Body, His Church and no one takes that place. The fruit of the Spirit should abound and be evident, not looking at the sex!!! Blessings….

      • momzilla76 // June 13, 2018 at 12:42 am //

        I challenge you to do a brief word study as to what head means in the Greek. Tradition has us thinking it is authority-leadership. I used a Strong’s Greek dictionary and found something life affirming. The word for head in the same word for head & chief cornerstone. Once I did some searching on the architectural term I found that the cornerstone of a bible times building was the vital foundation piece that influenced the entire structure that is built on it.

      • Elaine Urie // June 14, 2018 at 2:29 am //

        I was just reading in 1 Cor. 3:9 , where Paul made the statement, “For we are laborers together with God: you are God’s husbandry, you are God’s building.” Which makes a huge statement about who we are as a whole as well as an individual. Each has their own ministry but we are to build upon Jesus’s foundation. I think Paul made the statement to build upon no other man’s foundation.
        Thanks, I will do a study on the word head…as Jesus stated through Paul that He is the head of the body, the church. Thanks

  32. I keep being reminded that the body of Christ, his church, has been made different from what people actually see as buildings out there. PostCross continues to speak of unity and oneness having been made by the death burial and resurrection of our Christ. It is a synergistic relationship within our own physical body, a representation of what Christ made for his with Jesus as the head.
    Now if he has placed us all in His Body as he desired and gifted and called us in that body, then it is no longer my physical sex in that body that should be brought into it (there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female etc). Now if you have a person who is not seasoned by understanding the truth of who he/she is in Christ, then that one is not matured enough and needs to be under teachers and tutors and prophets until they “come to the full knowledge of the truth” and are full fruit exhibitors…. The word states to lay hands on no man suddenly, take the time to know and train them in TRUTH of Grace and Truth to know who they are in the new covenant. Infants, male or female, are problematic and need assistance until they come to maturity!! Blessings…

  33. I think I misplaced this comment earlier as a reply. So here it is again, but added to. If Paul is addressing the women, in Corinthians, with “came [the word] only to you,” why is the word “only” masculine? If he were singling out women, wouldn’t he use the feminine? At least in Latin it’s “solos” (masculine plural) and I believe the Greek “monous” is masculine as well, though I don’t know Greek. But “vos solas,” in Latin, would make it clear that he was addressing the women. But that’s not how Jerome translated it. If I’m right and Paul is using the masculine, when he could have used the feminine, then it means he is not singling out the women to be silent; and he’s actually saying, as Ellis argues, that the men (as those who object to women speaking out in church) should not be thinking the word originated with them. It seems so simple. Also I noted that Eusebius and his sources did not complain about the Montanist women prophesying because they were women, but rather because Eusebius et al thought the two women prophesied in an incorrect manner. So it seems that in the mid-second century, women were allowed to speak out and prophesy. I’m not sure Eusebius would have agreed with this, but as he’s bound to his sources, he can’t make the argument, as least for the second century, that the women prophetesses were out of order because they were women.

  34. Thank you so much for this. This verse really unsettled me, and God gave me peace through your interpretation of what it meant. I’ve always seen the silencing of women as something that belonged to religions, but not the Bible. God is just and He loves as all as equals. Paul says this in Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” I never view my faith in Jesus Christ as religion, that is a relationship with God our creator. He created man kind in His own image, male AND female, both equally loved by God.

    • We were all made one “in Christ”!!! The cross changed all things from the “LAW” system to the “GRACE & TRUTH – which came by Jesus Christ” system. Why do most people have a hard time separating covenants?? The Apostle Paul was a chosen Vessel of the Lord Jesus Christ to take this beautiful message of completed redemption to the Gentile World mainly but he even struggled with Peter James and John, they even agreed to go their separate ways! This message that Paul spread, the true gospel of Grace, a gift without works was given to all to spread………..Galatians 3:28 states, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” ……….We were all made one in Christ, so guys, get over it and let us act like family. I assure you guys, you NEED A HELPER!!! God gave us girls to help you and enhance you, let us help you understand the love of God!!! We bore babies and we understand unending love!!! Be Happy!!!

  35. My favourite paragraph is the last one “The first-century women who changed the world were many things. But what none of them were was silent.”.

    Great article

  36. As always, a good explanation. The “no speak” / no women as elders, etc rule is one of many reasons we left a church a few yrs ago.

  37. Paul, I owe you something of an apology over this post. I privately accused you of reaching on this until I learned that the lack of quotation marks in ancient Greek is a very real concern and has caused enormous confusion among Bible scholars and translators. Another resource (which, out of respect, I won’t cite) did an excellent job walking through this very issue and helped me understand contextual issues with Paul’s letters. I believe that the Holy Spirit is very much using you to point out important truths to the body of Christ, even if all of us aren’t immediately receptive. Shoot, even if people don’t agree with everything you write, it’s evident that Jesus is communicating important truths about Himself through your blog. Thanks for what you do!

  38. Bless you. Thank you oh so much. I am in the middle of writing a prayer book when all the sudden a ton of bricks falling upon me. I heard a sentence that has followed me my entire life; women are to be silent in the church. If I write this book I am speaking.
    It made me think… Well then if I am to remain silent in the church… And the church is the body of Christ… Then I have no want or desire or even have a role in Christ. Or even my own life and body as a Christian. It causes a feeling of not only despair but that Christ is of no value to me as I am no value at all.
    And yet… My mind and body said… They are reciting amd applying law? Then Jesus has become no effect unto them. Period.
    Stop telling our entire 50% of the body it is not to be. What if half your body was paralysed? Yay! Good job. On purpose too? Great. Are you kidding me? This is beneficial?
    Stop hurting yourselves and women….our little girls our mothers .. What you teach is that all females are not worthy of breathing when you teach that they are to remain silent in body of Christ that is the church.
    So i thank you from the bottom of my female heart for this essay.
    Now I will finish this prayer book this week.
    May god bless you every day of your life. 🙏💕

  39. Simon Ingram // June 28, 2021 at 6:53 am // Reply

    The text you quote: 1 Cor 14:34-35 says women are not allowed to speak but must be in submission as the law says. The law requires here that women should be submissive, not that women should be silent. As you say silence is not required by the law, only in the specific case mentioned here – in the churches. But there is no escaping that Paul thinks wives should be submissive to their husbands and it seems, submissive in the church. The requirements for men are equally exacting.

    You assume that because the Holy Spirit falls on women, that women can lead. You assume that because Adam and Eve were made equal, that this equality means no division of roles after the fall. Certainly women helped Paul and Jesus in ministry. They can be prophetesses and operate any of the spiritual gifts. You think women can only be respected if they are church leaders. Paul says that women are respected for their godly submission. It’s uncomfortably counter to the spirit of the age, but we have to ask whether this is really what Paul means.

    You are making the case that the ancient Israelites were sexist, but Paul and the Holy Spirit came along to put all that right. He did, but not by making women leaders in the church. Women are equal in status and value, but I think the bible assigns different roles.

    What you have NOT done in this article is say what 1 Cor 14:34-5 does mean. If it does not mean that women should not interrupt in church what IS it saying and to whom?

    By the way, I loved your highly original interpretation about the use of the word ‘What?’ in verse 36. There’s only one problem with it – and that is that it doesn’t fit. If Paul is presenting verses 34 and 35 as a statement from the sexist Jews that he highly disapproves of, and if his ’What?’ or more likely ‘Or’ really should be taken in the sense of ‘are you nuts’, then he would go on to explain why the argument is nuts and what his view on the matter really is. But he doesn’t do this. He simply says that a spiritual person will recognise the truth of what he has already said in Chapter 14 about orderly worship. So, it is more natural to interpret verses 34-35 as a statement Paul is making.

    Requiring order in the church and reminding women of their responsibilities is not ‘silencing’ women or excluding them from the life of the church. This passage seems to be nothing more than a call to order within the church service.

    • Hi Simon, I’m delighted to see that you’re open to exploring these issues. The article above was one of the first I wrote on the subject. My ideas got sharper over time and culminated in my book The Silent Queen. If you want an in-depth verse-by-verse coverage of these issues, and 1 Cor 14 in particular, I recommend the book.

      Some quick responses here: Paul was not the original champion for women, Jesus was. I don’t assume women can lead; I see that in the Bible they did lead. I think every woman should be respected, not just those in leadership. Since Paul spent much of 1 Cor encouraging women to speak, I should think that his horrified reaction to the Corinthian suggestion that they stay silent would be obvious.

      • Simon Ingram // June 29, 2021 at 2:44 am //

        The issue here is whether a woman can lead a church, whether she can teach and have authority over men. I will read your book in the hope that you don’t think the argument is obvious and that you have made a sustained and compelling case. We are not arguing about whether women are ‘championed’ by Jesus or whether they can operate spiritual gifts or bring the word of the Lord to a congregation. We are not saying that women should be muzzled in the church and play no role at all. We are asking about their role in ministry in the face of a natural reading of the bible in the original language. You say women do lead in the bible, but I see no example of a woman running a church on her own. Deborah, to be sure, was an example of a woman in Leadership, but was she the exception that proves the rule? Was the message that if men will not step up, God will overturn the natural order ? (as he did with Balaam’s ass, I mean absolutely no disrespect here).
        You have an exceedingly powerful argument in Paul’s choice of Timothy as a leader – if he was single! That would have been conclusive, since if Paul does not stick rigidly to overseers being husbands, then we can say with absolute integrity that Paul is doing no more than providing guidelines in 1 Cor 14. The issue of women in ministry is huge and I welcome your book and your presence on the internet. May God bless you Paul! My only concern is that our 21st century enthusiasm to see women lead churches may not be what God wants for women. He may prefer them to work under men. It sounds patronising, but so did encouraging slaves to continue in slavery and not rock the boat. God is not always predictable and I am desperate not to do anything that would upset Him. Anyway, I hope we understand each other. God bless you.

      • God bless you too, Simon. I’d love to hear your thoughts after you’ve read the book.

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