nov-30-1co14-34-women-silent1 Cor 14:33b-34, “As in all the churches of the saints the women should be silent~~ in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak. Rather, let them be in submission, as in fact the law says.”

People are sometimes willing to put a convenient twist on Scripture to justify doing the exact opposite of what it clearly states.

Paul introduces this command with the phrase “as in all the churches” to signify that this is not a local preference or cultural prejudice that can be ignored: “For this reason I have sent Timothy to you . . . who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church” (1 Cor 4:17).

Although the application of silence also applies to speaking in tongues, the immediate context is that of prophetic speaking: “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” (1 Tim 2:11–-12). 

In addition, women are not the only ones commanded to be silent. Only two, or three at most, were permitted to speak in tongues in any one service, and the same restriction was placed on the early church prophets.

The remaining speakers were commanded to be silent (1 Cor 14:28,30). In this context Paul declares, “The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets” (14:32). The filling of the Spirit does not produce the loss of control; rather it empowers one’s self–control (Gal 5:22). Paul inserts the reason for these restrictions—-“God is not the author of confusion” (1 Cor 14:33)—-which is followed immediately by the command for women’s silence.

All three commands (1 Cor 14:28, 30, 34) use the same word silence (Gk. sigao), which means “to say nothing, [or] keep still or silent” (Strong), “with the implication of preserving something which is secret” (Louw and Nida, Greek–English Lexicon), as Romans 16:25.

The fact that some women are better than men, that sometimes there is no male leadership in the church, or that a pastor authorized a woman to teach men are never justifiable excuses for disobeying a clear command in Scripture. “If they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church” (1 Cor 14:35): this places a heavy responsibility on husbands. Although this is a delicate issue, our approach should be to ask, “How can I minister my gifts while obeying this command?”

“Loving Lord Jesus, You have placed men as leaders in the church. Help its women be willing to learn submission, practicing their spiritual gifts in a way that pleases You and builds the church as well.”