34 Women should remain silent in the church. They are not allowed to speak but must be in submission, as the law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. 1 Corinthians 14:34-35
The above scripture clearly states that women ought not to speak during church gatherings doesn’t it? Does it mean that it is wrong to have women leading worship and preaching during church services? In our quest to understand the scripture, we need to be aware of the fact that the true contexts.
When reading scripture, we have to look at the book or chapter as a whole in order to get a clearer picture or view. This post will show that women were actually allowed to speak during church meetings.
The Old Testament Had Women As Prophets
One of the reasons why it is obvious 1 corinthians 14:34-35 does not mean that women cannot speak and take up leadership roles in the church is that, there are examples of women who were prophets and leaders in the bible. People like Miriam and Deborah were prophetesses who led their people. If God chose them to lead His people at that time, then why would He prohibit women from leading now. Since the old testament contains examples of women who were leaders in their day, it is obvious that God doesn’t want to silence women. So what does 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 really mean?
Paul Acknowledged That Women Can Speak In The Church
4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. 1 Corinthians 11:4-5
In Corinthians 11, Paul was talking about things that happen during church service. He clearly states that women and men pray and prophesy during church meetings. Paul here is giving guidelines regarding prayer and prophesy and he didn’t state that women cannot prophesy in church. Paul in this chapter makes it obvious that women can talk in church so what does 1 corinthians 14:34-35 really mean?
What 1 CORINTHIANS 14:34-35 Really Means
1 Corinthians 14:26 – “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.
1 Corinthians 14:40 – “But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way”
In the 26th verse of that chapter, we clearly see what Paul’s aim was. His aim wasn’t to tell women to always be quiet but He was trying to make sure that church service was run in an orderly manner.In verse 28, it can be seen that Paul is telling the church that only two or three people should speak in tongues at a particular time and that others at the church must be silent when someone is prophesying.
“If anyone speaks in a tongue, two–or at the most three–should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God.” – 1 corinthians 14: 27-28
In conclusion, the scripture was more concerned about things being done in the right manner and not about silencing women. The bible makes it clear that there were women who were prophets and leaders of God’s people. Also, In Corinthians 14:11 we can see that women as well as men prayed and prophesied in the church so women weren’t completely silent.