Women in Church:
According to the apostle Paul:
Women aren't permitted to speak or to prophesy in Church, they have to let their husbands speak for them.
religions in Index
Take note that we have no relation with the following text and address. The source of the following text is from the following address.
Let's read what http://www.keithhunt.com/Woman1.html wrote about Paul disgracing women in churches.
The following paragraph is a subsection from the the following text on this page.
Let's consider the well known verse used to forbid women
to have any vocal part in any teaching taking place on Sabbaths:
"But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority
over the man, but to be in silence" (1 Timothy 2:12, KJV).
Paul wrote: "Let your women keep silence in
the churches." What did he mean by this?
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."
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.
Let us read what http://www.keithhunt.com/Woman1.html wrote about women in church and what the apostle Paul wrote about them.
THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN THE CHURCH?
The WAY magazine (January-February-March edition, 1998)
INTRODUCTION by Keith Hunt:
Among the Sabbath/Festival of God observing Churches,
there has been THREE large important doctrinal debates in
the last 30 years. Two have been over "church government"
and "the calendar." The third debate is over the role of
women in the church. I have written in the past quite
extensively on this topic, yet it is needful for me to comment
on the following points and arguments of the article below
that appeared in The Way publication. This will be a long
study, but a necessary one as we search the Scriptures for the
truth of the matter. I will comment and expound where I feel it
is needed as we slowly proceed through the following article.
Should A Woman Be
Speak in Services?
Dale D. Carmean and Jack M. Lane
The controversy continues about this subject. On the one
hand, there are those who say a woman's place is to keep silent
in the church, and be under subjection, pointing to a number of
scriptures which seem to say so. On the other hand, there are
many people who don't see any problem with allowing women to
fully participate in services, even teaching! Is it true that the
Greek Scriptures say something substantially different than what
the English translations say? Who is right? Can we know?
Of the many hot topics being discussed by members of God's
ekklesia today, one of the hottest seems to be the controversy
over exactly what a woman's role during church services might be!
No one doubts that the female member of the Body of Christ = (Mashiach) = (Messiah)
has many important and valuable functions to perform: help meet
for her husband, mother of her children, friend of others in the
ekklesia, and support functions too numerous to mention.
The Bible plainly states that women have, in the past,
served as prophets (Luke 2:36; Acts 21:9; 1 Corinthians 11:5),
and even ministers (see next article), helping powerful
evangelists to better learn the Way (Acts 18:24-28). Women are
also destined to serve again as prophets in the end times (Acts
Yet, there is little in the Greek scriptures that would
indicate that any woman ever took on the duties of congregation
leader (pastor or elder) or teacher in any of the New Testament
congregations. From what we see in scriptures, there was
apparently a set role that women were to take in the
congregation, just as there are roles which men must take in the
COMMENT (Keith Hunt):
The function of "teacher" of the Scriptures within the Body of
Christ = (Mashiach) = (Messiah), was evident, from the example of Priscilla as recorded in
the book of Acts. So also the example of Philip's four daughters,
who are classified as giving "prophecy" (Acts 21). Obviously
they did "teach" but it is true as pointed out above that there
is no NT proof these women were ever "ordained" to the Eldership,
that they ever functioned as congregational pastors or elders.
I have covered this situation quite thoroughly in part one of
this study. End comment.
WOMEN IN SOCIETY
Most of us are aware that the role of women in our society
has changed dramatically over the past hundred years or so. Many
historians and sociologists point to World War I as the turning
point in our western society. The bulk of an entire generation of
young men went to war and never came back. There was such
enormous bloodshed during the Great War of 1914-1918 that
horrified statesmen and men of influence insisted that war must
come to an end. The Great War needed to be the "war to end all
wars!" The League of Nations was formed with the intent of
establishing world peace, but it failed in its task, collapsing
under the looming storm clouds of World War II.
Let's look at some of the sociological factors that were
involved as a result of this first Great War. With such a large
reduction in the number of men in society during and after World
War 1 more women had to carry the weight of responsibility in
feeding and caring for their families. With women's increased
responsibility and social contact came the desire for increased
interaction as fully functioning members of society, and the
movement supporting women's right to vote became a burning issue
of the day in the United States. With the passage of the Women's
Suffrage Act in 1920, women at last became voting equals with men
as citizens and members of society. At least, that was the ideal.
During World War II, as another generation of men was
drafted and sent off to war, someone was needed to run the
factories to produce the weapons of war, and again the women
came to the aid of their countries. "Rosie the Riveter," a
fanciful female American steelworker, became the world's ideal
for women getting out there and working hard to support their men
in uniform, so we could win the war.
Following World War II, when the fighting men and women came
back to their place in the work force, it became difficult for
women to simply disappear back into their traditional mold. It
became apparent that, not only was the world freed from the
terror of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, but our women had also
found that they could, indeed, work as hard as men and produce as
much output, and earn livings right alongside the men. Not only
was the world freed, but our women found that they were also
freed from the old mold!
During the decades following World War II, massive upheavals
in western civilization took place. Today we see women taking an
increasingly responsible role in running the affairs of business
and government. However, at the same time more and more men are
finding it difficult, if not impossible, to find gainful
employment with enough salary to support a family, thanks in part
to the increased competition for available jobs.
Today, in our emancipated society, our girls go through
school and on into college right alongside our boys, and our
women go out and compete equally with our men for jobs. At the
same time, we see many of our young women no longer looking
forward to raising a family as a primary goal in their lives, but
rather setting career goals and acquiring material possessions.
The American ideal, along with the ideals of other Western
nations, is that no person is superior to anyone else because of
their race, religion. or sex. Such is the society in which we
find ourselves today.
Today, amid this backdrop of social equality, we must
attempt to determine where our women fit into our religious
practices, and how we can utilize the talents they bring to
church services without violating God's commands in the Bible
regarding women in the ekklesia.
DEFINING THE DEBATE
There are two major viewpoints among church people regarding
the role of women. Both perspectives deal with whether a woman
may participate in church services, or in what way a woman may
participate. Both sides bring in scriptural evidence to support
their claims. The difference is mainly in how people of each
viewpoint read the scriptures.
The traditional view is that women do not have any role at
all in leading services or in sermonizing, although few people
object to a woman singing along with hymns or performing a
musical offering as a soloist. We might look on this as the
"conservative" point of view.
The other outlook, which we might think of as being more
"liberal," would allow women to have full participation in
services, including making presentations or leading Bible
A more excessive aspect of this second viewpoint would
permit a woman to pastor a congregation. but that's not within
the scope of this article. We're examining the issue of whether
a woman should be allowed to speak during services, or teach a
lesson. (We might mention in passing, though, that none of our
editors believes that women ought to take on the role of church
pastor or religious leader, although we have seen it done in
extreme circumstances, when it has been necessary.)
COMMENT (Keith Hunt):
I'm not at all sure if by what is stated in this article, the
idea is being taught that women can lead in church services with
"teaching" in sermon type speeches or discords, although they
state above that none of their editors believe that women should
function in the role of pastor or religious leader. Paul nor any
other writer of the NT ever addresses the subject of women being
ordained to the Eldership and pastor ship of congregations. As
other writers on this subject have seen, Paul, in giving Timothy
and Titus instructions as for the qualifications for the
Eldership, so gives some instruction that would only apply to
It would seem that in the NT church, the issue of women ever
becoming part of the Eldership/Pastor function of congregations
and the Church of God, was a "none" issue.
The Jewish mind would naturally not conceive the idea, and
neither Jesus = (Yeshua) or the Holy Spirit ever led them to think
otherwise. But the subject of whether women could "teach" in a
sermon type discord when the "church was come
together" is addressed by Paul. And is the subject of this
article and my comments. End comment.
Two passages of scripture appear more frequently than any
others in the discussion of this topic. Let's review these
Paul wrote to the Corinthian congregation, "Let your women
keep silence in the churches [Greek ekklesia]: 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 church [ekklesia]" (1 Corinthians 14:34-35,
To the evangelist Timothy, Paul wrote, "Let the woman learn
in silence with all subjection. But l suffer not a woman to
teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in
silence" (I Timothy 2:11-12, KJV).
For many people, that constitutes a clear "Thus saith the
Lord" on the subject. Women are not to speak during church
services, and are to remain silent.
But there are some problems involved -- not with Paul, or
with what he wrote, but with our understanding of what Paul
actually wrote, which then leads to misunderstandings about what
One problem arises when husbands accept this "husband as
absolute ruler, woman as subservient" concept, and carry it home
with them, so that the wives are expected to keep silent
at home, as well! Fortunately, that doesn't take place in all
homes. Another problem comes from the idea that women are
inferior, intellectually or otherwise, and have no business
trying to use their brain power in the "man's world" of preaching
COMMENT (Keith Hunt):
Those men or husbands who would take the comment of Paul home
with them, really do have a problem of both reading and vain
authority. Paul was speaking in a "church" context, "when you
come together" (1 Cor.11:18 through to chapt.14:26 and end of
chapter). We have seen (in part one) that women like Priscilla
did not keep silent and did teach the word to others, even to
men, OUTSIDE of "when you come together." They did teach outside
of the setting of official church services.
In Paul's mind, the teaching and guidance of the congregation
"when they come together" in official church services was to be
looked upon as pasturing the flock of God, and to him that was
part of the qualifications of those qualified men (not all men
were qualified either, otherwise there would be no need for
having qualifications for Eldership) who had been called and
chosen to pastor ship of the flock of God. In Paul's mind and
from his clear statement to Timothy, that function of the church
was not given to women, who had been created different than men.
This difference of mind between men and women, has come to notice
in many scientific studies in the last 20 years, and has been
shown on many TV news programs during the 90's. But many still
will not admit to this now proven fact. End comment.
So we need to ask some specific questions: What does Paul
mean when he says "speak," "silence," "subjection," or "in the
ekklesia"? Are women to remain absolutely silent, not singing,
not allowed to cough, or to comfort or discipline their children?
Most people would be quick to say, "Well, of course that's not
what it means."
Then, what does it mean "to speak" -- does Paul mean any act
of vocalization, or does he mean making a formal, prepared
presentation? Where in the law does it say women are to be silent
during church services? Why must they ask their husbands at home
in order to learn anything - did Paul consider women to be too
dense to understand what the teacher is saying when he is saying
Why would it be a shame for a woman to speak in the
assembly? What does "in the church" mean --during an assembly of
the ekklesia, or every minute of her life after she is
baptized? Does it mean during "formal church services" but not
during Bible studies or open forums? Why should women be
subjected into Silence, and how is vocalizing usurping authority?
We need to understand that Paul was not violating other
principles he had already established. He had written in another
place that "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither
bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all
one in Christ = (Mashiach) = (Messiah) Jesus = (Yeshua) . And if ye be Christ = (Mashiach) = (Messiah)'s, then are ye Abraham's
seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Galatians 3:28-29). On
another occasion he wrote, "...there is neither Greek nor Jew,
circumcision nor un-circumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor
free: but Christ = (Mashiach) = (Messiah) is all, and in all" (Colossians 3:11). These
passages tend to make it sound as if Paul was actually in favor
of equality among all the members, so that no distinctions were
drawn between Christians from various races or backgrounds, or
from either sex. This doesn't match with the idea that women are
to be treated virtually as inferiors.
Yet, on the other hand, those who wish to have women
participate fully in services, with no restrictions on speaking
or leading, may in fact be violating Paul's apparently clear
commands quoted earlier. If that's the case, there may he
problems with the more liberal viewpoint, as well.
As is often the case, the truth of the matter may very well
lie somewhere in the middle. It's possible that both of the
extremes are wrong. We always encourage our readers to examine
all the facts before making up their minds. With that in mind,
we need to seek a greater understanding of these scriptures, to
help us answer these questions.
Whichever side of this debate anyone may favor, the most
important thing we can do is to examine our own motives, deep
down inside, and determine if we are truly set to accept God's
will on a matter, and do as His word teaches. If that is not our
true motivation, we may find that we are merely attempting to
further our own agenda, or put our own interpretation of
scripture on an equal footing with what God wants us to do. If
that's the case, we need to stop and make sure our motivation is
pure. If it isn't, this will demonstrate to God that we are still
weak in our human condition. Our main motivation must always be
to serve and please God! Once we have that straight, we can
proceed with our studies, no matter what the subject matter
COMMENT (Keith Hunt):
To the last sentences I add my Amen. A love of the truth, a
hunger and thirst after truth and righteousness, a desire to be
willing to be corrected, and to want the Lord to lead us into all
truth through the Spirit, is the heart of the matter. Only with a
respectful fear and trembling before the Word of God will we be
humble enough for the Almighty to lead us into truth, and a
growing in the grace and knowledge of our Savior Christ = (Mashiach) = (Messiah) Jesus = (Yeshua) .
A WOMAN'S ROLE IN ANCIENT SOCIETY
We need to go back still further in time to get a better
overall picture of how women fit into various cultures throughout
history. "A woman's place" during most of human history has
been a place of subjugation, second class citizen status, or that
of a piece of property which can be bought and owned. The concept
of a woman having any kind of "rights" would be laughable
to men of many past generations. It might be difficult for us to
place ourselves mentally into that type of setting, but doing so
will help us to understand just how it was that this new sect of
Christianity, this new Way of life, differed so radically from
the way people had been accustomed to living.
The apostle Paul wrote his general epistles to
congregations of believers living in Gentile areas of the Roman
Empire. The secular Roman/Grecian culture of the day was [Note: Grecia = (Greek) = (Greece)]
strongly influenced by the pagan philosophers, primarily Socrates
(470-399 B.C.), Plato (427-347 B.C.), and Aristotle (38~322
B.C.). Socrates taught, for example, that in every regard women
were "the weaker sex," and that being a woman was a punishment,
since women were halfway between being animal and human. (It
might be interesting to learn what kind of women were in
Socrates' life --what his mother was like, or his sisters, or his
wife, etc. for him to have developed such a strong dislike
toward half the human race!)
In the Greek culture of that time, the men loved to get
together and discuss philosophy, or go to sporting events, while
the women stayed behind, never being allowed to venture out of
the house very far. Social, cultural and educational
opportunities for women were very limited. Aristotle furthered
the notion of sexual inequality with comments such as these:
"The courage of a man is shown in commanding, of a woman in
obeying." "The difference between husband and wife is like that
of a man's soul and his body, as the soul is meant to command the
arms and legs."
Later, the philosopher Zeno (335-265 B.C.) objected to how
men used women so freely for recreational purposes. He was not
concerned with the plight of women, but rather that men were in
this way distracted from the more pure and preferred pursuit of
Zeno's followers became known as the stoa poikite (or
painted colonnade) in the marketplace in Athens, which was
apparently the spot from which Zeno chose to teach. The
Stoics became champions of celibacy and restraint. Women were
considered a distraction and a temptation to men.
By the time of Christ = (Mashiach) = (Messiah), the well-known Jewish philosopher
Philo (15 B.C. - 50 A.D.), a resident of Alexandria, Egypt, was
attempting to bring Jewish thought more in line with the
Hellenistic world in which they lived, and his writings combined
aspects of Plato with biblical subjects. Philo also taught a
disdain of womanhood along the lines of the Greek philosophers'
teachings. Later, Josephus, the Jewish historian, continued in
the same vein, although the well known Jewish sage Gamaliel, who
appears briefly in the Bible (Acts 5:34; 22:3), apparently did
not concur with the negative view of womanhood.
An interesting historical note about Philo: He believed
that God was completely removed from the affairs of men -- an
unknowable God. He postulated a second God, who would be an
intermediary between the unknowable God and His creation. Philo
named this intermediary "Logos." Of course, we know that the
Greek word logos means "word," or "spoken utterance," and
is translated so in John 1:1. However, Philo interpreted this
Logos to be the sum total of the eternal thoughts and ideas, and
the creative power, that had gone into creating the universe. It
looks as if the influence of Philo's writings and teachings
reached into the New Testament church, because Paul confirmed
that it is Christ = (Mashiach) = (Messiah) who is the mediator between God and man (1
Timothy 2:5). John later wrote in the beginning of his gospel
that the Logos was, indeed, the One who had created all things
and had come down from heaven as a human (John 1:1-14).
COMMENT (Keith Hunt):
To think that the NT writers got true theological ideas from
Philo is to me "far out man" just far out. More likely it was
Philo who was influenced by Christianity as he lived until
50 A.D. Then again, there were Jewish concepts of the Godhead
that were not that far removed from the truth, as Christianity
was at first a Jewish religion, I mean Jesus = (Yeshua) was a Jew from the
tribe of Judah = (Juda), and they did have the sacred OT Scriptures where
the truth of God is proclaimed and recorded. End comment.
From the first century A.D. forward, there was a tendency
among leaders in the increasingly apostate Christian church to
interpret scripture according to the Greek viewpoint, es-
pecially in the budding Roman Catholic Church, and later in its
Protestant descendants. In the 13th century, for example, Thomas
Aquinas (1225-1274 A.D.) systematized the religious beliefs
of his church and brought them into a closer harmony with ancient
Greek ideals, including the negative view of womanhood. He and
later theologians thus interpreted Paul's writings according
to this world view.
All that may well be true to a point, but what Paul wrote is
Scripture, inspired by the Spirit of the Lord, and must be
understood in the light of all Scripture, letting the Bible
interpret itself and putting scripture with scripture. Greek
ideas, viewpoints, philosophy must be discarded.
And what man has to say about what Paul said, must also be taken
with a grain or a bag of salt. End comment.
Readers of "The WAY" are aware that the King James Version
of the Bible is not the pure and authoritative English
translation we had been led to believe that it was. Rather, King
James himself, and his politics, directly influenced the
translators. History shows that, not only were variant
translations in the margin not allowed by King James, but all
other English translations (Wycliffe, Geneva, Coverdale, the
Great Bible, etc.) were destroyed by fire, along with some of
the people who owned them and refused to give them up! The
majority of English language thought on the Bible and religious
matters since that time has leaned heavily on the King James
Version. The KJV was the primary translation of the Worldwide
Church of God under Herbert Armstrong. Therefore it's only
natural that some of the KJV's biases crept into his religious
thought and, as a result, into ours.
Mistakes are evident in the KJV, not a few, but no major truth or
doctrine of the Eternal is corrupted by that translation. There
are just too many passages and verses on all of the Lord's
important truths and doctrines in the NT, for any group of
scholars (including those of King James) to try to deliberately
tamper with in order to secretly try to foster their particular
teaching on such as we are studying here. They would have to
re-write the entire NT if not the whole Bible to successfully
attain their clandestine plan. And the KJV scholars never came
close to doing that - rewriting the Bible. The so-called plot of
King James is in the main a fabrication of some person's mind and
imagination, as they were dreaming some nightmare.
And I well remember articles being published in the early
editions of the Plain Truth (back in the 60's) that showed some
of the errors of the KJV. Certainly at that time and way before,
Herbert Armstrong and the theology College he founded, had at
their disposal copies of the Greek NT just as other theology
schools had. Any in-correct teaching on the part of HWA and the
WCG in those days, was not because of the King James Version of
the Bible. End comment.
This brief tour through history may help us to see how our
own view of womanhood may be skewed because of what came before
us, and even by our own trusted Bibles concealing the truth
rather than revealing it! We're not going to suggest that the KJV
says "black" when it should have said "white," but we need to
come to a deeper understanding of some of these verses by
examining them more closely. When we note that women in the first
century assembly were treated differently than they had been
either in the Jewish synagogue or in Hellenistic society, that
tends to point out the discrepancy in our current understanding.
The women of the ekklesia were apparently treated better than
they were elsewhere, which may also have resulted in the large
number of righteous women mentioned in many scriptures.
We can see women in the Church of God in the first century were
treated with much more dignity and respect simply by the way
Christ = (Mashiach) = (Messiah) Himself treated them. Hence His perfect example would have
been followed and taught by the apostles to everyone, in sermons,
teachings, and in living the example that Jesus = (Yeshua) set for everyone.
So it should be no secret nor should it be hard to find this
truth in the pages of the NT. All this still does not negate
the truth of what Paul was inspired to write about the role and
the place of "to teach or not to teach" for women, when the
church was to come together into one place (1 Cor.11:20). End
A NEW AND DIFFERENT WAY
Paul and the other apostles and disciples came preaching,
not just about Jesus = (Yeshua) and salvation, but about a new Way of life!
Coming into the fellowship meant not only giving up a life of
sin, but also re-thinking the meaning and purpose of life. A wife
was elevated from the status of a slave, an animal, or an
inferior life form, to a fully functioning partner -- a help meet
for her husband, and co-heirs together of the grace of life
(1 Peter 3:7).
What is a "help meet"? The term has often been mispronounced
as "help-mate." This tells part of the story, but a fuller
understanding of the role of the wife is needed, and Paul was
there to teach that new Way.
The truth of the Eternal had always been there. It was some of
the religious leaders of Judaism that had perverted and twisted
and forgotten it. Jesus = (Yeshua) came and swept away the falsehood, and
then the Spirit was given to clean the mind and renew the truth
that was always there in God's word, as to the "why" and the
"role" of the creation of women in the structure of marriage, the
family, the church congregation, and personal salvation. The
truth had always been there as to the liberty that every woman
had in telling others (men and women, and all who would listen)
about the wonderful ways of the Lord and His truths.
This is clearly evident in the Gospels with the examples of the
prophetess Anna, the woman at the well in Samaria, and others we
have discussed fully in part one of this topic. Paul introduced
no new theology, only conformation as to the truth already
understood in Israel as to the role and function that women were
to practice in the church when it "came together into one place."
If we look back to Genesis, we can read the term: "And the
LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I
will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground
the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of
the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call
them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that
was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to
the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for
Adam there was not found an help meet for him" (Genesis 2:18-
The word "meet" used in this sense is an obsolete word, no
longer in use in today's English. It means "fitting," or
"appropriate." The phrase "help meet" simply means a suitable or
appropriate helper. The phrase is translated from the Hebrew
'ezer' (Strong's #5828), which in these two verses is translated
"help meet" in the KJV, but the other 19 times it appears in
Scripture it is translated simply as "help." Eve was a suitable,
appropriate help for Adam, in the context that all the other life
forms existed as male and female.
Paul's writings emphasize that, in Christ = (Mashiach) = (Messiah), there is no need
for the separations that existed between people of various races,
nationalities, status in life, or even the social barriers that
existed between genders. There is no reason, in Christ = (Mashiach) = (Messiah), to "put
down" another member of the assembly because of being a Jew,
slave, barbarian -- or a woman. Christianity brought a new
meaning to the idea of the wife as an appropriate helper. Truly,
this was a new and different Way!
It was a new and different way only in respect to the false
teachings, customs, and practices of the Pharisees, who in many
ways had rejected the commandments of God as Jesus = (Yeshua) told
them) to hold to their traditions and man made ideas (many
towards women). It was a new and different way only in respect
to the wrong false practices and mind-set of the Gentile
nations towards women. It was not new in respect to how the
Eternal had always, from the beginning, established how women
should function in marriage, in motherhood, in raising
children, in their personal relationship with their God, in
sharing with others the word of their Lord, and in the role they
were to take when the church "comes together."
What this article is now going to zero in on, amounts to about
ONE to TWO HOURS a week (if the church calls for an official
congregational "come together in one place" Bible study each
week, maybe a total of Three hours, or a little more) and as I
have shown before in part one, this amount of time is very small
indeed when we compare it with all the other hours of the week
that every women has, to freely teach the word of the Lord to
others as led by the Spirit of Christ = (Mashiach) = (Messiah). Let us try to keep it all
in proper perspective. End comment.
GOING BACK TO THE ORIGINAL LANGUAGES
What about the verses we quoted earlier in this article,
indicating that women had little or no part in the life of the
ekklesia? We can derive a greater understanding of the words
quoted in the New Testament scriptures by going back to the Greek
and examining them in more detail.
We must remember that, no matter which translation of the
Bible we use, it's only a translation! We can often gain more
understanding of what was meant in any given passage by
consulting the original languages. Is it possible that there
might be subtle shades of meaning which have been lost, or at
least concealed, because of the improper translation of the Greek
thought? As we have seen in other word studies, this is exactly
Is it really exactly the case? Did the KJV translators try to
hide something so women could be "kept under" and so men would
run the show in church services? Or was it from the beginning
God's intent and directive that men should lead in the "teaching"
during official congregational worship services? End comment.
1 Timothy 2
Let's consider the well known verse used to forbid women
to have any vocal part in any teaching taking place on Sabbaths:
"But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority
over the man, but to be in silence" (1 Timothy 2:12, KJV).
Let's begin by defining who is being discussed in this
passage. Notice the context: "First of all, then, I urge that
entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on
behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, in
order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness
and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our
Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the
knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator
also between God and men, the man Christ = (Mashiach) = (Messiah) Jesus = (Yeshua) " (1 Timothy 2:1-5,
Each of the words "man" and "men" emphasized above are
translated from the Greek word anthropos (Strong's #444), which
primarily means any human being, not just the males. We could
restate this passage to say that prayers could be made on behalf
of everyone, that God desires all people to be saved, and there
is a mediator between God and mankind, the human Jesus = (Yeshua) Christ = (Mashiach) = (Messiah).
These would all be satisfactory translations of anthropos.
A change takes place in the Greek, though, which is lost on
the English language readers. Notice verse 8: "Therefore I want
the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without
wrath and dissension." This time, "men" is translated from
another Greek word, aner (Strong's #435), which has the meaning,
not just of mankind in general, but more specifically of the
husbands! The word is used to denote the man rather than the
woman, and an adult male rather than a juvenile male.
The word "aner" is used for the MALE, not just "husband." You can
see this in the Englishman's Greek Concordance, where every place
is listed where it is used in the NT.
Yet, the writers of this article lead you to their thinking by
saying, "but more specifically of the husbands." Is it only the
husbands and not the wives that are to pray lifting up holy
hands? Can the wives(if we are to take this word to mean
husbands) never pray in a family setting at home? No other verse
in the entire Bible comes close to teaching such an idea.
They will tell you later that when the Greek words for woman and
man used here are in close proximity to each other, we are to
understand them to mean "husband" and "wife."
So, in verses 9-10, is it only wives that this adorning applies
to? And at home to boot! Are the single women and widows
excluded! No! This instruction for women in verses 9 and 10
applies to ALL women, not just wives. So also the instruction in
verse 8 is for MEN not "husbands" only. And in the context of
all men and all women in congregational worship services, Paul
was instructing Timothy that it was the "men" (married, single,
divorced, widower) who should pray, and that women (married,
single, divorced, widow) should dress modestly (not as if going
to some fancy dress ball with the Queen of England) and
especially with the attitude of good works, true humble
Christianity. End comment.
But does this mean that only the husbands are to pray? Let's
continue: "Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper
clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold
or pearls or costly garments; but rather by means of good works,
as befits women making a claim to godliness. Let a woman quietly
receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not
allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to
remain quiet" (verses 9-12).
Here, the word "woman" is translated from gune (Strong's
#1135), and can mean "women" in general, but in proximity to the
word aner (husband), it can only mean "wife." "Man" in verse 12
is again translated from aner.
There it is; the two words when in proximity, then "gune" can
only mean "wife." But who says? Where is the "thus says the
Lord" on that bit of grammar? Where is the Bible verse
that tells you that rule of speech - in English or Greek? End
A note on language usage: When aner and gune are used in the
same context, the proper translation would not be "man" and
"woman," but rather "husband" and "wife."
We have seen that the context and LOGIC of verses 8 to 10 would
disprove that idea. Besides that, the Greek language did have
other words for the specific understanding of "husband" - "wife."
Paul could have used those words. Or, He could have said "the
married man" and "the married woman" (such language he used in 1
Cor.7) to make sure Timothy and everyone reading his letter would
have no doubt that he was in this section only referring to the
married. End comment.
Often, at the end of wedding ceremonies, we can hear the
familiar phrase: "I now pronounce you man and wife." This is a
mixture of definitions. The preacher might better pronounce them
to be "husband and wife." It's evident that they are a man and a
woman. The preacher would probably never pronounce them to be
"husband and woman." But "man and wife," although incorrect, has
become acceptable in our language.
To be Continued
WOMEN'S ROLE IN THE CHURCH SERVICE....CONTINUED, PART TWO
There is a similar situation in the case of the Greek words
aner and gune. They are understood to mean "husband" and "wife"
when used together, and to translate them as "man" and "woman"
actually conceals the true meaning of the Greek text!
Who says these two Greek words when found together are always to
be understood as "husband" and "wife"? Where is such a rule
found in the pages of the Bible? You need to remember that the
NT was written in "common" Greek, not "classical" Greek of the
Universities, and upper highly educated people. The NT was
written in everyday down to earth language of the common people,
this is now a known fact. Then, you need to remember the Bible
does not come with a grammar text rule book, like some computer
programs do. My WordPerfect program comes with a "spell check"
and "grammar check" built in, the Bible does not. In fact the
original manuscripts of both the Hebrew OT and the Greek NT had
one letter after another, no spaces, no sentences, no paragraphs,
no punctuation whatsoever. In fact the OT Hebrew originally did
not have even any vowels.
You will notice that in their statement above, they do not quote
any book on NT grammar that was written along with the NT books.
As far as I know no book on NT grammar has been discovered, that
was written in the first century A.D. to explain all the verses
of the NT in grammar form. So their dogmatic statement is just
human reasoning or conjecture, or at best based upon classical
Greek or modern Greek grammar. Besides all that talk about the
rules of grammar, there is nothing to say the writers of the NT,
using common Greek, had to follow any rules of grammar. I
personally do not follow all English grammar rules in my
writings, after all, rules of grammar are only the invention of
other humans, and language does change over the process of time,
and so does spelling and so does grammar. The Americans do not
spell all English words as do the British (i.e. color-USA;
The argument above for the verses under discussion in 1 Tim. 2
can really bear no importance on the matter, as to determining
the truth of Paul's teaching and instruction in this section on
women's "teaching or not teaching in church services" nor also on
the section in 1 Cor 14 regarding the same matter. It is
especially the context of 1 Cor.14 that gives the truth of the
matter. The two passages go hand in hand, both must be taken
together. Paul was talking about the same topic within the
teaching of different contexts, and gave some different
explanations as to why he said the things he wrote were the
commandments of the Lord (1 Cor.14:37).
The key to understanding this verse is in knowing the proper
translation of the Greek grammar for the verb "to teach." Paul
uses the word didusko (Strong's #1321), which Thayer's
Lexicon defines as: "(1) to teach, to hold discourse with others
in order to instruct them, deliver didactic discourses, to be a
teacher ... (2) to teach one, to impart instruction, instill
doctrine into one..." Paul was indeed referring to women in the
act of instructing! But that's not the whole story.
It's not! Now it would seem to me that it is pretty plain,
especially in 1 Cor.14. The context and the EMPHASIS of Paul in
this chapter is "instruction" - "edification" - "teaching." See
verses 4, 5, 6, 12, 17, 19, 24, 25, 31, 35. The whole idea of
the church coming together into one place was so all may learn,
be taught, be edified, be instructed in the ways of the Lord.
After Paul had talked about the gifts of the Spirit, the use of
tongues, the prophets and prophesying in the church as it came
together into one place (verse 23), and knowing that these gifts
of the Spirit could be given to women as well as men, he then
answers the logical question: Can women then in official church
services, use their gifts and teach and preach - expound the word
of the Lord to the congregation? His answer is clearly given.
He also answers the comment that would also naturally arise:
Well I have this gift and the Spirit just led me to preach and
teach before the church, I just could not help myself.
For Paul, there was no such thing as "I could not help myself,
the Spirit forced me to speak out to teach and preach before the
gathered assembly." For Paul, the Spirit never forces anyone to
do anything. Paul would reply: "And the spirits of the prophets
are subject to the prophets." Everyone can, in Paul's mind,
control themselves and use the gifts of the Spirit as God
directs, and when He directs. It was then after uttering that
statement that he said the women are to keep silent in the
church (when the church comes together in one place, official
services). His context of the whole chapter is to do with
teaching, expounding the word and ways of the Lord, what today we
would call preaching in sermon (short messages) and
sermons (long expounding).
BECAUSE OF A COMMA
There was another subtle difference between what the KJV
states and how most modern translations read. Notice again verse
12, from the NASB: "But I do not allow a woman [Greek: gune,
wife] to teach or exercise authority over a man [aner, husband],
but to remain quiet."
There is a comma added in the KJV text which is not in most
modern translations! Without the additional comma, the sense of
the sentence would be that Paul was not forbidding women to teach
in church services, but rather to both teach, and grasp control
from, their husbands!
If this is what Paul was saying, then many people have had a
misunderstanding of this verse for a long time. As we will see,
this is indeed what Paul was saying!
Now how do you teach but not grasp control from your husbands?
Usually the teacher is in control over those being taught.
Usually they lead, they govern the situation, they control
the floor so to speak. Have you ever seen a teacher that does not
or is not able to grasp control of those they are supposed to be
guiding and teaching, be it men or women, or a mixture of both?
It soon degenerates into confusion and bedlam, certainly
Does the wife keep looking at her husband and somehow with her
eye or hand tell him she has not grasped control from him? Does
she give him some secret sign (only the two of them know about)
now and then to tell him he can take control if he feels she has
grasped control from him? Does he give her the nod to let her
know she has grasped control from him (as he sits there part of
the group being taught and led by her)?
Do you see some of the problems in executing this idea that the
wife can teach (what about women who are not wives or are widows?)
but not grasp control from her husband?
THE INFINITIVE MOOD
If we look a bit more deeply, we will find that the grammar
Paul used for the phrases "to teach" and "usurp authority" are in
the present tense, active voice and infinitive mood. As we will
see, this changes the whole flavor of the translation and,
consequently, our understanding of the verse.
The infinitive mood signifies that the action spoken of
"pertains to continuous or repeated action, without any
implications as to when the action takes place" (The Complete
Word Study New Testament, ed. Zodhiates).
The present tense is continuous action in the present ongoing
time. The "when" of the action would be determined by the
context. The context of what Paul is saying to Timothy
regarding women not teaching must be found in other parts of the
NT or other parts of the writings of Paul. And one major other
part of Paul writing on the same subject is 1 Cor.14 and it's
context is clearly given. It is when the church has come together
into one place for instruction and edification in the word and
ways of the Lord. The context of the whole NT shows as I have
before proven in part one, that women can OUTSIDE of the church
coming together into one place, speak about, teach about, preach
about, edify about, instruct about, write about, the word and
ways of the Eternal, to anyone, man or woman, teenager or child,
as the Spirit of the Lord leads and directs.
Zodhiates comments on this passage at 1 Timothy 2:9-15: "The
key to understanding what the apostle Paul is teaching is that
woman should not try to appear or act like men. In addition
to this, they should not attempt to usurp the position of their
husbands in the home and in the church. God has appointed
specific tasks for both women and for men. Childbearing is
reserved for women, just as the role of a husband is set aside
for men. Paul emphatically states that these were differences
created by God Himself.....
Where in this section does Paul say that women were trying to be
like men? Does it say they were trying to "look" like men? He
talks about them dressing modestly and having good works. Such
could be said concerning men also. Can a woman not teach her
children, or other children in a grade school? Can she not teach
other people in her skill of secular work? How would she not
usurp and not grasp control over her husband in secular skill
teaching in her work, when her husband could be miles away
working in a different trade and skill?
In these specific verses of 1 Tim. 2 where does the word "church"
and "home" appear? They do not! So, we must look elsewhere in
the NT, and/or in the writings of Paul to find if there is any
other specific instruction on women "not teaching" and where that
injunction and command is to be carried out. We find it again
from Paul in 1 Cor.14 where the context is made very clear and
plain. It is when the church comes together into one place
for edification and instruction in the word and ways of the Lord.
The childbirth here spoken about is open for other
interpretations, as some commentators point out. In the Greek the
word "the" is present - "the childbirth." And as some point
out Paul could have had in mind THE ONE childbirth that came
through woman - the Christ = (Mashiach) = (Messiah)! Hence verse 15 may not be talking
about anything to do with her home life as a wife per se, but
fulfilling her role in life, and knowing when and where to teach
or not to teach, how to outwardly adorn herself with moderation,
putting on good works, continuing in faith, love, holiness, and
self-control (sobriety), then she can be saved through the
childbearing of Christ = (Mashiach) = (Messiah) Jesus = (Yeshua) .
"In verse nine, the Greek word sophrosune [Strong's
#4997]... provides the clue for the interpretation of this
difficult passage. This Greek word, translated 'sobriety' [in
KJV], means 'the voluntary limitations of one's freedom of
thought and behavior,' or 'sober mindedness.' The truth
is that in Christianity women became free and equal to their
husbands. Nevertheless, there was always a danger that they might
take this freedom beyond the limitations that God had placed
when He appointed man as head over woman in the marital
relationship. No two people or things can be exactly the same.
The inherent differences in people and things must be recognized
by a sophron, or a 'sober minded' person. This is one who
recognizes his abilities and his limitations, and is mindful of
his behavior in certain given circumstances."
This sober-mindedness, or self-control as the New KJV renders it,
also contains within it for a Christian, the understanding that
man was to lead in spiritual head of tribes, congregational
worship towards God. We certainly see this clearly brought to
light starting with Moses and the children of Israel. God
instituted a religious congregational (when you come before me
together in one place) worship service, and all who did the
teaching (and physical sacrificing of the animals at that time)
under that system were MEN. As they met in one place to worship
the Lord, those responsible for the teaching service were chosen
and/or ordained men.
There are no examples in the entire Bible, that any woman ever
taught or expounded or preached the word or ways of the Eternal,
during the time when the Church of God( in the OT or the NT) came
together into one place in an official worship service. That
expounding and teaching of the word of the Lord was always the
duty of men for the one to three hours a week that such
gatherings of the church were called.
Zodhiates later comments, "Furthermore, the word for 'teach'
in this verse is the Greek infinitive didaskein (1321). In this
instance, it means 'to teach continuously.' The Situation
refers to the home, and assembly, or anywhere the husband and
wife may be interacting together. If this were the case, the
position of the husband as the head would be undermined, and
would not be in accordance with God's ordained order in creation.
A wife should place limitations on her speech. Paul does not want
women to be lacklustre or mute, but to be careful lest they go
beyond the bounds of accepted propriety.
Oh, so now the wife must not continually speak or teach or preach
or expound the word in the assembly, in case the position of her
husband as the head would be undermined.
Hummm, so how much is continual? Do we have to have a
ministerial conference to decide the matter? Is she to stop
talking for say 5 minutes every so often, so it will not be
continual? Does she nod at him to tell him she is placing
limitations on her speech and he can take over for a while? What
if he is out of town for the weekend or for a month on business,
are these limitations of speech then discarded and not effective?
Can she then teach and preach continually without a five minute
break, or without having him take over for a while?
I mean to say, what do we define as "continuously"? Is a 5
minute expounding of the Scriptures not classified as
"continuously" but a 10 minute preaching or teaching would be
"continuously" hence not allowed, or her husband would have to
chime in with a two minute commercial break? Or would we
classify that if she takes a drink of water half way through her
sermonette or sermon, that would not be "continuously" and so
Now that's just trying to arrange this "not continuously" within
the church, when it comes together into one place, but what about
trying to arrange it at home, when human nature and emotions are
more open and active. What then is "continuous" talk on the part
of the wife? Who sets the bounds, and by what standard? Where
are the examples of all this in the word of the Lord? Where are
some kind of time laws or rules or examples found to guide us and
the wives in determining what is "not continuously."? I can find
teaching and examples on how a woman of God can dress at times,
under different situations. I can find all kinds of teachings and
examples on the "good works" a woman should have, written in
the pages of the Bible. I can find examples of women teaching the
word of God to others (even to men) outside of the context of the
church coming together into one place, written in the pages of
the Bible. But, can I find anything about women "not
continuously" talking so to usurp authority over her husband, not
one word as to guide me on what is continuous talk for a woman,
hence wrong or sin for her.
"Moreover, the word translated 'to usurp authority over' is
the Greek word authentein (831). Essentially, a wife's private or
public life should be beyond reproach and never undermine the
position that her husband has been given by God. Also, a wife
should never encroach upon the role of her husband."
Ah, now finally we are down to "role" - the role of men and
women. As far as Salvation, a Child of God - being able to study
and understand the word of the Lord, having a reward in the
Kingdom based upon what you did with what you were given from the
Father, then there is no male or female, there is no Jew or
Gentile, all are fully equal. But that does not mean I as a male
can produce babies from my body in childbirth. No! Only women can
still do that. God did make male and female, and technically the
male was created first, and later the woman. The Lord intended
from the beginning to have certain functions or roles within
certain contexts, for both the male and the female. One of those
roles or functions was who would be responsible for the
"teaching, preaching, expounding" of the word and ways of the
Father and Christ = (Mashiach) = (Messiah), in the setting, context, of the church coming
together into one place.
Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi has written a whole book on this very
subject of the roles of men and women in the Church. I recommend
to the reader and those who want to study this subject in depth,
Then, what Paul was saying in 1 Timothy 2:12 is: 'I do not
allow a wife to continuously teach, or to continually exercise
authority over, her husband"!
That is what man says Paul was saying, but it just is not so,
just is not so at all my friends.
With what is stated that Paul was supposedly stating, we are back
to the problems of "continuously." So Paul, we could argue, did
not allow a woman to teach in services EVERY Sabbath, for that
would be "continuously." So Paul only allowed her to teach or
preach or expound the Scripture, once a month. Then he only
allowed a woman to teach in the congregational service under 10
minutes, otherwise it was "continuously" and so exercising
authority over her husband.
On and on we could go with our ideas of interpreting how to put
into practice the above explanation of what Paul was supposed to
have been teaching. And the ministerial conferences on the matter
would be endless and subject to change as new ideas were
The husband is to teach the wife. The wife should not be
teaching the husband. For a husband to be asking his wife about
the scriptures (especially in those days when women were not
formally educated at all) is not appropriate, and does not fit
into the universal family concept found throughout all nations
and cultures, where the husband is the head of the household.
In today's society, there might be one exception to this
principle. If a wife has been attending church services for
years, as a member of the ekklesia, and then her husband is
called and comes into the assembly, the wife may likely have more
Bible knowledge than the husband. In this case, the husband might
not be able to answer the wife's questions because of a lack of
skill in the Word. A loving wife would want to bring her newly
baptized husband along in the faith by teaching him what she
knows, and there should be no problem involved with her sharing
her knowledge under these circumstances. However, the husband is
still the head of the family. The wife is still not allowed to
dominate, even if she has superior Bible knowledge.
While in the main I agree with what is said above, the Bible is
speaking in GENERAL terms that the head of the wife and the
family is the husband. As pointed out above, there could be
individual situations where the wife takes the leading if she
knows more. That would be the husband loving his wife in the
right manner, and having enough common sense and wisdom, together
with humility, to know she should take the lead in that
circumstance. But now, give me a break with that last sentence.
Outside the setting of the church coming together into one place,
and the wife or the woman having more knowledge of the Bible
than the husband or the man, there IS NO RULE, there is no LAW
from God saying, "well it must be this way" or "it must be that
way." We are not told who had the most Bible knowledge between
Priscilla and Aquila when they instructed Apollos. It may well
have been the wife for all we know. We are just not told! In
those situations of expounding the truths of God to others
outside of church services, it is open floor, full freedom, as
the Spirit leads, and as the gifts of the Spirit have been given
to each individual. Naturally, a husband and wife will work as a
team with the love and respect and with the knowledge of each
others abilities(Eph.5:21-33; 1 Peter 3:7), to the best edifying
of those they are called to teach. And it could be the woman will
have more gifts and more ability to expound and
put into words the truths of the Lord than the man, and hence be
used more, and do more of the talking. This does not mean she is
usurping his authority as head. It means the head has enough
sense and enough love to know the best way to get the job done.
Before we continue let me say this about the idea that we should
understand 1 Tim. 2 to read "wife" and "husband." I have two of
the most popular Greek/English translations on the market today -
one by Green and the other by Berry. Both men would be classified
as Greek scholars. Neither of them translate 1 Tim 2 as "wife" -
"husband." Both men render the Greek into the English very
similar to the KJV. The reader may want to find as many
translations as possible from various Greek scholars (some as
individuals and some as groups of scholars who worked on
translating the Greek into English) and see how many of them
translate 1 Tim. 2 as "wife and "husband." I think you will be
hard pressed to find even a few from all there is out there. I
personally have looked at these following translations: RSV;
Living Bible; NEB; Phillips; Jerusalem Bible; NIV; Good News
Bible; Lamsa Holy Bible; Fenton Translation; The Everyday Bible;
New Living Translation; NKJV; and the KJV. All of them are
basically the same as the KJV.
As we saw earlier, the phrase "usurp authority over" is
translated from the single Greek word authenteo (Strong's #831).
This is an unusual word. It only occurs this one time in the
Greek scriptures. Strong defines it to mean "to act of oneself,
i.e., (fig.) dominate." However, Thayer's Lexicon goes on to
define the word to mean, "(I) one who with his own hands kills
another or himself; (2) one who acts on his own authority,
autocratic; (3) an absolute master; (4) to govern, exercise
dominion over one."
Well! We can just see Paul telling Timothy, " I don't allow
a wife to instruct her husband or to take his life"!
This is the interpretation of the writers based upon their faulty
idea that Paul is talking about only husbands and wives here.
What they are doing is picking the definition of the word that
fits best their theory. Certainly the word of the Lord clearly
states that murder is wrong for anyone to commit, including a
wife towards her husband, but a wife "instructing" her husband,
to go along with their argument for the sake of argument, that
is another matter altogether, and one that outside of the church
coming together into one place, is very doubtful as being from
the Scriptures. I know of no Bible verse that says a wife CANNOT
instruct her husband. The truth is she may be much better
qualified in certain areas to do just that - instruct her husband
where he needs to be instructed, including Biblical instruction.
Sure when all things are equal, the man should be the head
and the leader in the home of Biblical knowledge, that's why Paul
spoke with a GENERAL statement in 1 Cor.14 when saying if the
woman, when in church services wanted to learn anything
(concerning what the men may be saying in their teaching of the
way of the Lord) she should "ask her husband at home." That was
a general statement from Paul, when all things are basically
equal between husband and wife. He gave that general statement
without going into all the exceptions there may be to that
general and ideal way of life for husband and wife. All things
being equal, God wants the man to be leader and head of his
wife in spiritual knowledge, so he can answer her questions at
home, when she hears and learns things from the men in church
services, that trigger questions in her mind that she is not sure
what the answer is.
Yet, Zodhiates verifies that this is a correct definition.
He defines authenteo as "A self-appointed killer with one's own
hands, one acting by his own authority or power. Governing a
genitive, to use or exercise authority or power over as an
autocrat, to domineer (1 Tim. 2: 12)"
(The Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament).
Zodhiates also notes that, in Greek, a verb in the
infinitive form "has many more uses than it does in English, most
of which are idiomatic and difficult to translate properly." This
may well be one of those places!
And it may well be that it is not one of those places. But an
additional place that goes together like hand and glove with the
instruction Paul gave on this same matter over in 1 Cor.14.
It is very possible that some are making this passage in Timothy
and the one in 1 Cor.14 to be much more complicated than they
are. I think Paul's reader (the brethren at Corinth, and the
minister Timothy) had no trouble in understanding Paul in his
directives here as he instructed them concerning the role women
were to practice in the "teaching, preaching, expounding" of the
ways of the Lord in official church services, when the church
came together into one place.
When we understand the context Paul is speaking in for uttering
this commandment, which he claimed to the Corinthians, was from
the Lord, then it really does not take a rocket scientist or a
Greek scholar to interpret it for you. You simply read it for
what it says and believe it for what it says. Paul was saying
that during the "teaching, preaching, expounding" of the word and
ways of the Lord, part of the coming together into one place,
the women were to remain in silence, listening and learning,
taking notes if you like, thinking about what was being said and
taught, and if there arose any questions about what she heard,
she was to take them home with her and ask her husband at home
for the answers. And that is it, pure and simple to understand. I
mean even a child can understand it. Paul did, for the sake of
those theologians in the church, give some reasons as to why
the Lord said it was to be this way during the instructional part
of the church service.
These verses are; 1 Cor. 14: 34, 35; and 1 Tim. 2:13, 14. They
have been thoroughly elaborated upon in such works as "Man and
Woman in Biblical Perspective" by James B. Hurley (Zondervan
Publishing House) and "Women in the Church - A Biblical Study on
the Role of Women in the Church" by Samuele Bacchiocchi (Biblical
Perspectives, 4569 Lisa Lane, Berrien Springs, Michigan 49103).
Unquestionably, though, the overall sense of these two
verses is a clarification on how wives should submit to their
husbands (Ephesians 5:22).
That is their understanding based upon the comments by Zodhiates,
which are rejected by nearly all other Bible commentators and
In fact, with this new understanding of what Paul was
saying, we might better translate verses 11 and 12 along these
lines: "Let a wife learn in peace, fully subordinate; and I do
not permit a wife to be continuously teaching or domineering over
her husband; rather she is to remain at peace. I do not allow a
wife to continually teach or continually dominate her husband."
Again, if we are to understand that this is what Paul said to
Timothy, then we are back to having to determine just what
constitutes "teach continually" and "continually dominate
her husband" which could lead to many arguments, differences of
opinion, and many ministerial conferences, with each church
finally doing its own thing. Some no doubt believing that full
sermons by women would not be "dominating her husband" or
Notice how Zodhiates addresses these issues: "These verses
(1 Timothy 2:9-15) indicate that women were full and active
members in the early church. ... From an examination of 1
Corinthians 11:2-16, it is also clear that both wives and
husbands could pray and prophecy in the worship service. ... In
all this discussion, Paul's chief concern is that no woman would
be of immoral character" (Zodhiates).
This is Zodhiates idea and you will notice he uses the word
"indicates" for it is obvious from the rest of the NT that it may
not have been so at all, and he wants to cover his butt.
Now to the often quoted section of Scripture in 1 Cor. 11:2-16.
Please read this section.
Try to find the word "church" or "assembly" or "congregation" in
this section. Try to find the phrase "when you meet" or "in the
church assembly" or "when the church comes together" or "when you
come together into one place." Try to find ANYTHING like those
words or phrases in that section of Scripture. You will not, for
one simple and plain reason.....THEY ARE NOT THERE!!
This section of inspired Scripture has NOTHING to do with church
services, or when the church assembly came to gather into one
place for official worship services. It has to do with ANYTIME
BUT that time of the church "coming together." It has to do with
men and women praying and speaking forth the words of the Lord in
their day to day lives APART FROM the church coming together!
Notice it! It is not until Paul starts another thought with more
instruction and correction on another subject that he introduces
the phrase "come together" and "come together in the church"
verses 17,18. His mind now goes to the many problems he knew they
were having at and in the church assembly when they did come
together into one place. The first problem and first correction
he delivers to them is that of HOW to observe the symbols of
the death of Jesus = (Yeshua) correctly. Notice how many times he uses this
phrase "come together" or "come together into one place" from
chapter 11:17 to the end of chapter 14. In that whole section
Paul addresses many problems he saw that they were having in and
during official church services. Before this section - starting
in chapter 11:17 - he was addressing problems on a general basis
of everyday life. The one exception is the man guilty of sexual
immorality in chapter 5. Paul there does say they should act on
this situation "when you are gathered together" (verse 4). He
does not come back to "assembly" problems again until chapter
What about verse 11? "Let the woman (wife) learn in silence
with all subjection" (KJV). Contrast that with the NASB: "Let a
woman [wife] quietly receive instruction with entire
submissiveness." Which is correct?
Zodhiates comments on the phrase "in silence with all
"The subsequent term to consider is hesuchia (Strong's
#22711), translated 'silence.' In the NT it occurs numerous times
referring to tranquillity or the state of being undisturbed. This
should be the understanding in this verse. One must bear in mind
here that during the era of time when Paul was writing, it was
usually men who were the ones to receive an education. If this
word meant 'complete silence,' women would never have the
opportunity to ask questions or increase her knowledge of the
Scriptures. Simply speaking, the wife ought to be displaying a
tranquil spirit in her attempt to learn. The final word of key
importance in understanding the 'silence' mentioned in this verse
is hupotage (Strong's #5292), translated 'subjection' in KJV,
meaning 'to place in proper order.' ... Paul wanted to express
the idea that in the wife's desire to learn, she should respect
her husband's position over her in Christ = (Mashiach) = (Messiah) (cf. 1 Cor. 11:3)."
None of these words explained above give forth any proof that the
case Zodhiates wants his readers to believe is the truth of the
matter (trying to say Paul is talking about wives and
husbands in the marriage relationship). His comment and idea
about if this did mean "complete silence" women would never "have
the opportunity to ask questions or increase her knowledge of the
Scriptures" is blown to shreds by Paul's words in verse 35 of 1
Cor.14. It would seem Zodhiates does not want you to see that
verse, or he himself cannot see it (what you call trying to proof
text your ideas by selecting only certain verses while completely
ignoring others on the same subject), or has conveniently
forgotten it is there.
For Paul it was quite simple, women during the "teaching,
preaching, instructional" part of the church service, were to
remain silent. They learned from what was being instructed
just like everyone else sitting in the congregation, thus being
edified in the Scriptures. If questions came to their minds
concerning anything being taught, they were to note it, and
"ask their husbands at home."
You will notice Paul did not say they were to run to the elders
after services and ask them.
Paul was indeed upholding the marriage and the family structure
as given by the Lord from the beginning. The head of the woman is
the man (1 Cor.11:3). The women with husbands were to first try
and have their husbands answer their questions concerning
spiritual matters they may have heard in services and had
questions on. How many in the church of God follow that
instruction today? In a lot of cases and in a lot of churches it
has been forgotten or has been neglected to be taught.
1 Corinthians 14
We have seen that Paul was not, after all, forbidding women
to teach during the assembly.
I submit we have not seen that at all proved by anything so far
said from the above authors of this article or from Zodhiates.
Setting aside that portion of the discussion for now, we
next need to consider the other passage of scripture most often
used in reference to women speaking in church.
In 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 (KJV), Paul says, "Let your women
keep silence in the churches [ekklesia]: 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 church [ekklesia]."
Was Paul lamenting the shame of seeing a woman getting up
to address the assembled group, and saying it was not permitted
for them to do so? Many people read it that way. But let's
see if we may not have read more into this verse than is actually
there. We might ask a fellow church member, "Who will be
speaking at services this week?". When we ask this, we are asking
who will stand up in front of the congregation and deliver a
message or lead a bible study. This is how we define the word
"speak" in a church setting. But is this what Paul meant when he
said women should not "speak" in the assembly?
Let's read 1 Corinthians chapter 14. Paul is giving lengthy
instructions about speaking in tongues and proper decorum in the
assembly. Notice how often he mentions speaking in this
passage: "Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual
gifts, especially the gift of prophecy. For anyone who speaks in
a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one
understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit. But
everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening,
encouragement and comfort. He who speaks in a tongue edifies
himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I would like
every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you
prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in
tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified.
"Now, brothers, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what
good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or
knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction?... So it is with
you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how
will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking
into the air.
"Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world,
yet none of them is without meaning. If then I do not grasp the
meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the
speaker, and he is a foreigner to me. So it is with you. Since
you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that
build up the church. For this reason anyone who speaks in a
tongue should pray that he may interpret what he says. For if I
pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful....
"I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.
But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to
instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue. Brothers,
stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in
your thinking be adults.........
"So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks
in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers
come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind?
But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in
while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that
he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his
heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God,
exclaiming, 'God is really among you!'
"What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together,
everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a
tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for
the strengthening of the church. If anyone speaks in a tongue,
two -- or at the most three -- should speak, one at a time, and
someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker
should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God. Two
or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh
carefully what is said. And if a revelation comes to someone
who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can
all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and
encouraged. The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of
prophets. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in
all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent
in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in
sub-mission, as the Law says. 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. Did the word of
God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has
reached? If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually
gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the
Lord's command. If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored.
Therefore, my brothers, he eager to prophesy, and do not forbid
speaking in tongues. But everything should be done in a fitting
and orderly way" (I Corinthians 14, NIV).
TO TALK OR SPEAK?
The words emphasized above have something in common: They
are all translated from the Greek word laleo (Strong's #2980).
This word does not mean getting up to deliver a prepared
message. Rather, laleo means primarily to utter sounds with the
voice, to use the faculty of speech. "Talk" would be a better
translation than "speak."
Of course not. We can see from the context Paul is not really
talking about people preparing messages a week in advance. The
church at Corinth had many "spiritual gifts" which Paul knew very
well. That congregation had many who would speak the words of the
Lord, who would have revelations from the Lord, who could expound
the word of the Lord, right on the spot, there and then, without
doing any preparing ahead of time. So much so was this fact, that
there was no order in their services, and Paul was correcting and
instructing them concerning it. The fact remains people were
speaking with their mouths, call it "talk" or "speech" or
"instruction." Paul wanted "edification" for all present to be
the mark of the day, when the church came together into one
TO BE CONTINUED
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 = (Mashiach) = (Messiah) 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 = (Mashiach) = (Messiah) -- 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 = (Mashiach) = (Messiah) Jesus = (Yeshua) 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 = (Laodicea) and that
you in turn read the letter from Leodicea." [Note: Laodicea = (Laodiceans)]
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 = (Mashiach) = (Messiah)
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 = (Mashiach) = (Messiah), 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
WOMEN'S ROLE IN THE CHURCH SERVICE......CONTINUED, PART FOUR
PAUL'S FEMALE ASSISTANTS
One thing we can know for certain, though: Paul did not look
on women as inferior creatures, as did so many men of that day,
and even some today. Notice his instructions to a fellow
servant: "Yes, and I ask you, loyal yoke-fellow, help these women
who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel along
with Clement and the rest of my fellow-workers, whose names are
in the book of life" (Philippians 4:3). Paul is asking a male, a
loyal yoke-fellow, to aid and assist the women who fought at his
side. He didn't tell the man to take the women's jobs from them
and make them go sit down. Paul asked the man to help them!
Certainly! No problem. I have already commented that Paul had
women who worked with him in the gospel. Priscilla was one of
them. But we cannot find anywhere that Priscilla ever taught,
preached, expounded the word of the Lord in official church
services, when the church came together as a whole congregation
into one place. I have commented in depth in part one of this
study, that outside those official church gatherings (which may
only total a few hours a week) women have the God giving right to
spread the gospel in whatever way they are led by the Spirit of
God to so spread and teach the gospel, as much as it is the
duty of the men to do.
Let's return to I Corinthians 14 for a moment, and consider
another aspect of this passage:
"Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not
allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says"
(verse 34). What about remaining silent? What exactly does
"Remain silent" (NIV), or "keep silence" (KJV) is translated
from the Greek word sigao(Strong's #4601), which means to keep
silent by holding one's peace. It suggests silence as a
result of a sense of fearing God (out of respect, not out of
terror), or of awe. There is another word, siopao (Strong's
#4623), which has the more traditional meaning of physically
abstaining from speech. That's what we usually tend to think this
passage means -- women should just shut their mouths and be
silent (siopao). But that's not the word Paul used here. It isn't
a matter of saying to the women, "Shuddup!", as much as it means
"Peace, and be still."
Of course, Paul was using a polite word because he was a polite
man (unless he got angry with false preachers and really
stiff-necked individuals, then he could be not so polite, just
as Jesus = (Yeshua) was not so polite at times with certain people), and the
topic was one of politeness, instructional, answering problems
and questions. The question being: can women use their spiritual
gifts to teach and preach in congregational services? He was not
answering the problem of women just chit-chat-ing, having
out-bursts of various kinds, or just generally causing confusion.
He was answering a legitimate concern and question and putting a
STOP to something that had been taking place in that Corinth
congregation, and he did it with politeness, as he thought highly
of the women in the body of Christ = (Mashiach) = (Messiah).
The fact remains that, in the context of this whole chapter, and
from 1 Tim. 2 we can see that Paul was instructing not only that
particular congregation but every congregation in the whole body
of Christ = (Mashiach) = (Messiah), for all time, including us today, that during the
teaching, edifying, preaching, expounding of the word of the
Lord, part of the official service of the church, the women were
to be still, not participate in a vocal manner in that teaching,
and to be under peace in attitude of mind and disposition. They
were to listen and learn, and if they had any questions about
what was taught they were still to hold their peace and ask their
questions to their husbands at home. He backed all this up with
examples and with the general teaching from the whole law of the
Lord, and then finally told them that what he said was the
commandments of God.
TWO MORE THINGS
Wives must also "be in sub-mission" to their husbands. This
phrase is translated from the Greek hupotasso (Strong's #5293),
which means to arrange under, to submit to someone's control, or
to yield to someone's admonition or advice. Militarily, the word
was used in reference to arranging troop divisions. The
non-military application of this word referred to giving in,
cooperating, and assuming a responsibility.
Finally, remember that we learned, in our study of I Timothy
2:12, about the infinitive mood of the verb. When Paul used the
terms "teach" and "have authority," these were written in the
infinitive mood, showing a continuous or repeated action. We
find the same infinitive mood being used here in the verb "speak"
in verses 34 and 35.
It is the present tense infinitive, continuous or repeated action
in the present. Hence it is still a commandment of the Lord (as
Paul said he spoke the commandments of the Lord), and still in
effect to this day. The women of the body of Christ = (Mashiach) = (Messiah) are to
willingly co-operate, to be willing to give in, assuming and
taking the responsibility that they will come under and be in
sub-mission to the men in this regard, during the teaching and
preaching service, when the church comes together into one place.
That they will sub-mit to the law of the Lord and be peacefully
silent, as they listen and learn from the men during this
relatively short span of time (when compared to the rest of the
hours in the week when they had the right to do as much or more
than the men in teaching and spreading the word of truth),
taking note of their questions and asking their husbands at home.
A BETTER TRANSLATION
Shall we put it all together? Let's see how these verses
might be better translated, knowing what we now know about the
Greek. The following is a suggested translation of
1 Corinthians 14:34,35: "Your wives must be at peace in the
assembly. It isn't permitted for them to be continuously talking
or chatting, but rather be responsible and yield themselves to
whatever is taking place, as it shows throughout the scriptures.
And if there is something they want to question their husbands
about, let them ask their husbands later: For it is disgraceful
for wives to be continuously making a disturbance which distracts
the assembly" (1 Corinthians 14:34-35, authors' paraphrase).
We can see that Paul is not referring to women addressing
the congregation in this passage, but rather to wives asking
their husbands a question -- not at all the same thing!
A paraphrase it is indeed. And a paraphrase that is not what we
know from the Greek. The Greek and its literal rendering is what
we find in the Greek/English Interlinears by Green and Berry.
And they translate very closely to what the scholars of the KJV
translated. The context of 1 Cor. 14 gives the answer to this
"women be silent" issue. And the simple clear instructions to
Timothy in 1 Timothy 2, also gives the truth of the matter.
Putting those two sections of Scripture together (line upon line,
here a little there a little), it is I submit quite simple for
anyone who can read English, without any degree in Hebrew
or Greek, to understand that Paul's instructions (which he called
commandments of the Lord) were that when a church came together
into one place for edification, teaching, expounding of the word
of the Lord, that section of the service was the duty of the men,
and women were to peacefully and submittingly, not to teach but
to remain silent, even to the point of asking no questions during
that time, but keeping them to ask their husbands at home.
Remember that I Corinthians 14 is speaking about doing those
things that edify the assembly. "Let all things be done unto
edifying" (verse 26). Paul's purpose in writing was to see
that the congregation was edified. (See, for example, verses 5,
12, and 26.) The word "edify" comes from the Greek oikodome
(Strong's #3619), and means to build up or improve others, to
aid in their growth as Christians.
Let's consider verse 26 for a moment. We might consider
this verse to be a description of how services might be run. Paul
wrote: "How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every
one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a
revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto
edifying" (verse 26, KJV).
Notice how Paul spoke of "you" and "every one of you." This
verse doesn't separate the congregation into male and female!
Even in the KJV, women or wives are not excluded in this verse!
All of the members had a contribution to make!
But wait a minute, hold your horses, Paul has not yet finished!
He is telling them that was the way it was WITH THEM! They were
full of the gifts of the Spirit, yes, and that included women as
well as men. They all wanted to "do something" in their service
meeting. They were all participating - both men and women -
participating in a very un-organized manner, interrupting each
other, speaking in a language none could understand, and just
having a good old time confusing everyone, so that some person
off the street who would walk in to their congregational meeting
would think they were all a bunch of "nuts" from mental
institutions. It was AFTER verse 26 that Paul THEN started to
lay down the rules of ORDER and HOW MANY of the prophets and
those with the gift of tongues, could speak. It was AFTER verse
26 that Paul then instructed whether women (who obviously
had up to the point of him writing and correcting and
instructing) could participate in the teaching, preaching, and
expounding of the word of the Lord, during that part of the
edifying portion of the service. What was being done in their
services PRIOR to his corrections and instructions is besides the
point. Many things were being done in their services that were
INCORRECT prior to Paul being told about them and then writing to
them to give corrections and instructions as to HOW IT SHOULD BE,
which he then told them were the commandments of the Lord.
Throughout time, and in many places today, many wives, with
their husbands' permission, have had many edifying things to say
in the assembly based on their own personal Bible studies,
and others have appreciated their contributions. Actual
edification took place, the very thing that Paul was the most
concerned about in this chapter. This is why Paul said at the end
of his discourse on decorum in the assembly, "Let all things be
done decently and in order."
What has been done to edify under whatever situation is not the
point. That is not the issue, as to whether a woman can edify at
any time. The issue is purely to ascertain what the WILL of the
Lord is, what the INSTRUCTION of the Lord is, concerning the
teaching, preaching, expounding of the word of God, during that
part of the service, when all the church comes together into one
place. The issue involves HOW that part of the service
should be conducted (basis outline) and whether women should or
can, as far as GOD is concerned and as far as HE has decreed,
participate in that teaching and expounding of the word of the
Lord to the rest of the congregation gathered into one place.
God intended wives, from the days of creation, to be
partners with their husbands, and to contribute to the
edification process that leads to salvation in the Kingdom of
If Paul had been "trashing" women in this chapter, as many
have thought he was doing, then the "order" of a male-dominated
society was indeed being reinforced. However, the "decently"
seems to have fallen by the wayside in that scenario.
Come on now, give me a break, we are only talking about a few
hours A WEEK FOR PITY SAKE. I have spent much time in part one
to try and show we need to keep all this in proper perspective.
Men and women, Jew and Gentile, are on equal ground when it comes
to Salvation and Rewards. Outside of official church service all
are equal in having freedom to teach and spread the word of the
Lord. I have spent many pages in my book on "church government"
to prove that from the Scriptures. But, all that said, God has
never taken away or cast off the ROLES and FUNCTIONS in certain
aspects of this physical life on earth and in the Church, that He
has always intended and even created from the beginning
(women are still the only ones to bear children, even in the
church). A part of this issue is "ROLES" - what role does a woman
or a man have from God, under this or that situation and
circumstance? The issue is not "trashing" women, or putting them
down. It is: What is their role during the official church
gathering together into one place, and that part of the service
set aside for teaching and preaching to the congregation the word
of the Lord?
But we have come to understand that Paul was concerned with
true edification of all the members of the ekklesia, male and
female. When we stop to realize that even women who have
not had the educational opportunities others have had can still
make valuable contributions to the benefit and edification of the
ekklesia, within the context of the Christian family, then we can
begin to proceed decently, and in order, with each member of the
assembly taking his or her rightful place, in Sabbath services
and at home, as a member of the Family of God.
I agree, no problem, as long as we remember to seek the WILL of
God, as to what He has instructed and directed in each phase of
Sabbath services, Festival observance, Home life, and every part
of a Christian's life from day to day. We are not to seek our
will, nor to think our thoughts, but we are seek and desire and
prove what is the WILL of God in all things (Romans 12:2;
Eph.5:17; 6:6; Phil.2:12; Col.4:12; Heb.13:21; 1 Pet.4:2; 2 Pet.
1:21; 1 Jn. 2:17) and then to OBEY it. Those that so do shall
have Eternal life through Christ = (Mashiach) = (Messiah) Jesus = (Yeshua) . So it is written, so
shall it be.
Putting It Together
"Then Jesus = (Yeshua) said to those Jews who believed on Him, If you
continue in My word, you are My disciples indeed; and you shall
know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John
We have learned some "new truth" in this study. Of course,
it isn't the truth that's new, but our under-standing of it that
has been made new. Perhaps we can now realize that we had
been reading something into these scriptures, rather than truly
getting all we could out of them.
It may not be new truth at all but false deception that was
prophesied to rise at the end time to such heights, that IF it
was possible even the elect would be deceived. So said Jesus = (Yeshua),
and so it will be.
It had always seemed a shame that women were prevented from
bringing us the benefits of their Bible study, merely because
they were women. It was also a shame, on many occasions, for some
men to hold forth from the pulpit, not because they had anything
of value to say, but because they were men! There have been some
men who should never have been in a position to teach others,
while many women, who are natural teachers and self-made
scholars, have had to sit idly by and have their time wasted
because a man had to do the speaking.
You must have been in the wrong organization that possibly did
put women down and did not give them the chance to use the Spirit
of God in them. But those churches and Elders who know the truth
of what I have written in both parts of this study, will say with
me that women have every right to use the gifts of the Spirit,
including teaching, and expounding the word of the Lord to ANYONE
- Male or Female, young or old, OUTSIDE OF THE OFFICIAL
GATHERINGS OF THE CHURCH COMING TOGETHER INTO ONE PLACE - which
only amounts to about one and a half hours a week at the most,
for the average Church of God Sabbath meeting. Again, it may
well be true in some organizations, that there was "politics"
before Christianity being displayed and some men given positions
of teaching others that should never have had those positions.
Yet, that fact does not change the word and truth of God on this
issue. Men and organizations may falter and fall and go astray in
certain areas, but God and His word and what He has decreed in
His word on this subject and others, will still remain true. And
He will still want His true children to be obedient to His true
Again, we need to remember to keep this in proper perspective. We
are only talking about a very very small portion of the whole
time of the week, in this study. Where we really need to put the
emphasis is on all the HUGE AMOUNT OF TIME in the week that women
can, and are allowed by God, to "do their own thing for the Lord"
as the Spirit moves them.
A TIME TO CHANGE
This article may have brought some of our readers to a
crossroads in their lives. We should all evaluate how we have
fit women in general, and our wives in particular, into the
model we have had for Sabbath services and worshipping our
Creator. Perhaps some of us have needed to view our wives in a
different light. Perhaps now we can.
I have endeavored in this two part study to help you broaden your
understanding of the woman's role in the Church and Family of
God. I have tried to show you from the Scriptures that there is
a role for both men and women to fulfil WHEN the church comes
TOGETHER INTO ONE PLACE. I have tried to show you what the simple
plain truth really is on that matter. And at the same time help
you understand that OUTSIDE that relatively short span of time on
the Sabbath, God's word shows that women have as much freedom
within the law and word of God to "send forth the Gospel" in a
personal way, as do the men in the church. And believe me, when
it comes to personal evangelism, many women can run circles
around many a man.
If any wives who have been unduly subjugated by overbearing
husbands can come to a fuller under-standing of what God expects
in a marriage relationship, then the truth can indeed set them
free. if there are husbands who have held to a wrong belief, who
can now see a need to treat their wives with greater respect and
admiration for what they can bring to the worship of God, in and
out of services, then the truth can set these men free, as well.
This was not intended to be an article about marriage.
However, it would be difficult for some couples to change how
they both participate in worship without finding it necessary to
first reevaluate their relationship with each other in light of
new scriptural understanding.
As it is with any "new wine skins" situation, where
something new doesn't fit easily within something old (Matthew
9:17), there will need to be some adjustments made, some re-
thinking, and perhaps some changes in direction. We need to
examine our old ways, and husbands and wives will need to have
earnest discussions to sort it all out and fit the pieces into
There will be many who will need to apply what has just been said
above, to what I have written in part one and in this part two,
for I know that many men have been taught and have felt that ALL
the work of teaching and spreading the Gospel, at ALL times, was
just the responsibility of men. Nothing could be further from the
truth! And I hope all men, and all women(who may also have
thought the same) can now see that except for a few hours
or less a week on the Sabbath, women have a very LARGE role in
spreading the word of the Lord.
HOW TO APPROACH
For those who have been taught that the Bible forbade women
from making any contributions to worship services or Bible
studies, this new understanding may represent a radical
departure from orthodoxy. Because it is such a great shift away
from what many of us have believed in the past, some of our
readers may feel uncomfortable about changing the way they
do things. We certainly can't fault someone for not wishing to
make rapid changes in their understanding until they "prove it
If some readers personally feel that women should not
participate in worship, yet see that the scriptures really don't
support that belief, they may wish to ask themselves why they
believe what they believe. If the subjugating of women was
biblical, then it could be justified. But if we now see that the
concept is not biblical after all, why would there be any
reluctance to make a correction in our lives?
Once more the authors psychologically instill in the reader that
to believe women should remain silent in the official teaching
part of the divine worship service as the church gathers
together, is "subjugating." Such language is designed to leave a
"dirty" taste in the mouth, a type of "racist" attitude is then
portrayed on the part of those who so believe. The subjugating
of women (as the authors use the term) has never been a part of
the will of the Eternal. But the design and will of the Lord has
been from the beginning, that men and women, should fulfil the
roles they were to practice in the home, in the church, and in
society, under various times and situations. One of those times
and situations we have been particularly looking at in this study
- namely those few hours a week when the church gathers together
into one place, and even more specifically - that part of the
service that is devoted to teaching, preaching, and expounding
the word of the Lord, to all the congregation for their
Many times, we believe what we believe out of habit, because
that's what we learned many years ago. If this is the case, then
breaking the habit will take time, and concerted effort,
to erase the old habit and install a new one.
If the reader now sees from the Bible that it is permissible
for a woman to participate in worship, but still believes women
are to be subjugated, perhaps the reader should examine his
or her deepest thoughts and motivations to see where those
And, of course, if anyone continues to feel that the Bible
does teach that women are to sit silently through services, then
others must respect this sincere belief.
Again, it is not a case of women being "subjugated" but being
under "subjection" as Paul put it, during this specific time in
worship service, to the men, but more importantly, to the
Almighty God, as He directs. The church as it comes together is
like one large family, and the Eternal has called for the head of
that family (so to speak) to lead in the teaching and
instructing of that family. And in such a situation, the head of
that family at such times, is the man, under Christ = (Mashiach) = (Messiah) Jesus = (Yeshua), who is
also portrayed in the Scriptures as male.
Respecting others beliefs has its place, where freedom is given
within the law of God, such as being a meat eater or not being a
meat eater, but in this case, such is not the case, and must give
way to ascertaining the truth of the matter. For what Paul
instructed the church at Corinth was not his ideas, or "do as
you please" but it was the commandments of the Lord.
It seems evident that we have not fully understood these and
other verses regarding a woman's role in the ekklesia. In the
past, if we had any questions about how something ought to be
done, we would simply wait for our pastor to tell us what to do
and what to think. Decision-making was much simpler then.
It would seem today that just about EVERYTHING that was
understood as "truth" in the past, is now coming under attack and
being questioned, even the weekly Sabbath, the Feasts
of God, and even God Himself. Yes, errors have always been
within the Church of God, and we must always move on to grow in
grace and knowledge of Christ = (Mashiach) = (Messiah) Jesus = (Yeshua) . Yet I have found over the
years that the errors were usually only relatively small (I am
not talking about when ministers were led astray and became
corrupted, then many large errors were evident). The Church of
God (the true elect who remained faithful from corruption) has
been pretty solid and accurate on the large important doctrines
and teachings of our Father in heaven. Jesus = (Yeshua), as head of His
Church has guided well His people down through the centuries.
And I believe the core of this issue - the teaching part of
congregational services - the Church of God has observed
correctly from the beginning, from the time of Moses.
Today, many readers of "The WAY" are people who have broken
away from the old "corporate church" way of doing things, because
they have seen that often the old way simply did not work. There
may have been order and discipline, but it often was not in
accordance with what the Bible teaches.
Maybe it did not work in the organization "they" were in. Maybe
it did not work because "that" organization was or became
"cultic" in its mind set, and not only put down women, but put
down men also, until they had to be robotic machines in a "big
brother is watching" you system.
Yet, there have been and still are, organizations like the Church
of God 7th Day, the Seventh Day Adventist church, and others,
that have survived very nicely thank you, by following what Paul
instructed as the commandments of the Lord, in their divine
worship service as they gather together into one place.
We have also seen that, as we grow and progress, some people
are not as far along in their understanding as we might be, while
others are ahead of where we are at this time! What should we do?
We shouldn't be impatient for others to catch up to us
immediately, and we hope that those who are ahead of us in
knowledge will wait patiently for us to catch up to them! Each
one of us is at his or her own place along the path that leads to
Paul taught a great many principles of human relations. One
time he wrote that, even if doing something was perfectly all
right, not against any law of God, and totally innocent, he
would refrain from doing it if it offended a brother or sister in
the elkiesia. (See I Corinthians chapters 8 and 10.) We should
consider practicing this kind of love toward one another, so as
not to cause offense.
On an individual basis over certain matters, such as what Paul
gave examples on, where we can apply his teaching on a one to one
situation, that is all true, BUT that is not possible when we are
dealing with the WHOLE congregation coming together. Under the
issue we are studying, for each to apply what they considered the
truth of the matter on this subject of men and women
participating in the divine teaching section of the church
service, we would again just end up with utter confusion. The
matter must be studied, the truth ascertained, and the leaders of
the church together with the whole congregation must then
declare and practice the truth. The freedom the individual has
regarding this issue is that they can disagree and move to
another group of people where they believe the truth on the
matter before us is being practiced.
How can we apply this principle in our own groups?
If there is a group of people meeting together for Sabbaths,
and no one objects to women taking a leadership role in the
meeting, or giving a message, or leading a Bible study, as long
as she is not exerting dominance or authority over her husband,
there is no scripture which condemns this action, as we have
seen. The woman should be able to make her presentation.
No we have not seen is my submission! We have seen (in part one
and in this study) I submit that women are to remain silent in
the teaching, preaching, expounding of the word of the Lord, part
of the divine service, and if any questions arise while they
listen they are to also remain silent and ask their husbands at
home. We have seen that to interpret and figure out what it
means to "not exert dominance or authority over her husband" if
she should not remain silent but be allowed to teach and preach,
is just about impossible to ascertain, and would lead to constant
disagreements, endless re-adjustments, and many ministerial
conferences, and probably more congregational splits because some
would not agree with others about where to draw the line (some
would be more liberal or conservative than others on the issue).
If another group meets for the Sabbath, but the people in
that group object to women speaking or leading a discussion, the
women should not try to force themselves on the group.
Of course that should be true. And I suppose those husbands and
wives who would strongly object would move along to another
group where women are allowed to preach and expound the word
during congregational services.
Suppose several people, from several independent groups,
come together at the Feast of Tabernacles. Should a woman be
scheduled to speak? That may very well depend on whether the
people who are there have already studied the issue and come to
an understanding of the subject, as we have in this article,
before they came to the Feast. It would probably be best not to
schedule any women speakers, at least until it has been
determined if anyone there would be offended if a woman spoke. Or
perhaps fair warning could be given so that anyone who would
be offended could simply skip that session.
Maybe fair warning would be given way before the Feast began
(that women would be preaching during divine services. I'm not
talking about "workshops" that have nothing to do with the whole
congregation coming together into one place) so those who
disagree with such practice could choose to not attend period.
There are now dozens upon dozens of Feast of Tabernacle sites in
North America and around the world.
Once again, we should all remember not to think negatively
about a member of the ekklesia who may have a different outlook
on this issue than we might have. We should not be afraid to
discuss our beliefs with others, but we must not come from the
position that "I'm right and you're wrong, no matter what!"
Rather, our approach should he gentle and loving: "I used
to feel that way, too. But here's what I've found, and here's
what I believe."
And of course now we have written material such as these two
studies for people to use as they search the Scriptures for the
truth on this matter. There IS A TRUTH, one way is wrong and the
other way is correct. There can be no middle ground! Either women
ARE allowed to teach, preach, and expound the word of the Lord
during divine church worship services, or they are NOT. It is
one or the other, as simple as that. The child of God has
the responsibility to prove from the word of the Lord what God
has decreed and commanded on this issue and on this part of the
Local culture may play a large part in the decision whether
or not to have women speak at services or share their thoughts in
open forum. In the larger cities of the United States, where
most men find themselves working alongside or under college
educated women in the workplace, the idea of a woman presenting a
message at services might be more acceptable. In other parts
of the world, having a woman address the assembly might go
against the strong male dominant social mold in that area. Each
area is unique, as is each assembly. Wise guidance is required in
order to steer the assembly toward all truth and away from
This issue transcends all nationalities, races, color, social
class, education, work situations, and whatever else the mind of
man can conjure up. The instructions of Paul which were
the commands of the Lord, on this matter, is for ALL the Church
of God, EVERYWHERE, and for ALL generations, in ALL ages. Paul
gave no instructions that each area of the world or each
individual church congregation could decide for themselves how it
would govern this issue.
This is a very emotional issue for a great many people. If
you read this article and don't agree with everything we have
said on first reading, that's fine. You might try a second
reading later on. As we pointed out, neither of the extreme
viewpoints is totally correct, but rather there is a high road
down the middle.
This topic does not have to be emotional at all. If the Spirit of
God dwells in the heart and mind, if the individual loves the
truth, hungers and thirsts after it, wants the truth above
anything else, searches the Scriptures daily to find the will of
the Eternal on this matter and others, is willing to put all the
verses on this topic and any topic together from one end of
the Bible to the other, then as Jesus = (Yeshua) has promised the Spirit
will lead you into all truth.
The middle road the authors talk about, is simply the road of the
truth, and as Christ = (Mashiach) = (Messiah) said the truth shall indeed set you free
(set you free from error and deception, which in the last
days will be so great only the elect will not be deceived).
If we continue on the high road, with the difficult path
that leads to the narrow gate, and if we manage to stay out of
the ditch, and avoid those who would lead us into either ditch,
our voyage along this Way of life will end where we want it to
end - at the doorstep of eternity!
It takes all of us -- male and female, young and old -- to
make up the Body of Christ = (Mashiach) = (Messiah). We each have our part to play in the
function of the Body. What we have explained here may
help the entire Body to function better!
It is indeed the straight and narrow road that leads to Eternal
life, and only a few (relatively speaking) will find it in this
age, so said Jesus = (Yeshua) .
We all do have our part to play in the Church which is the body
of Christ = (Mashiach) = (Messiah). We all have a ROLE, designed and given as the Spirit
distributes, and that role must be acted upon and practiced
within the laws and commandments and bounds which our Father has
set. By finding His WILL on this and other roles of men and
women which God designed from the beginning, we shall find not
only fulfillment in our physical lives, but we shall also find
peace and joy and love, as we endeavor to understand and put into
practice His will for our personal lives within those roles. And
from it all will come respect and unity for all members of the
Church of God, which is the Family of God.
Written May 1998
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