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Women speaking in the church
Query for the Month
Next up-date: May 1st 2007 (God willing).
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Some perpetual questions ....
Do you know the difference
between the "love" that is of Christianity
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1 Corinthians 14:
33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. 34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted to them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also says the law. 35 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.
Just what was Paul trying to say when he wrote these words?
Paul wrote: “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace”, and He is as particular now as then. He desires that we should learn lessons of order and organization from the perfect order instituted in the days of Moses for the benefit of the children of Israel.
But he also wrote:
1 Timothy 2:
On the basis of those words some people have thought that women professing godliness should always keep silence and not talk at all in church. But a single Bible passage cannot establish a doctrine or theory – “out of the mouth of two or three witnesses”, God says. [Deuteronomy 17:6.] In fact, we can easily find other scriptures that suggest otherwise. However, all scripture is true and useful and not to be disregarded, so we need to look more deeply into this idea.
Let’s read something else that Paul wrote under inspiration:
1 Corinthians 11:
Another translation puts it this way:
1 Cor 11:1-16 (MSG)
So what does the word “prophesy” mean in that text?
We are told that “He [or she] that prophesies speaks to men to edification [instruction], and exhortation [encouragement], and comfort” a role for which women are eminently suited. Then he says, “For you may ALL prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted”. 1 Corinthians 14:3; 31. It is only after having written that that Paul seems to tell women not to talk in church at all, which appears very contradictory. Verses 34-35.
But when Paul wrote to Timothy, he said that women should keep silent and not USURP men’s, especially their husband’s, authority. Here we are told that simply praying, singing, or speaking during a church meeting is not necessarily usurping authority, but could actually be edifying men, and therefore pleasing to the LORD. The check on the Corinthian women was for those who were too forward in asking questions which could be better asked at home, or advancing opinions which should have been talked over with their partners first, instead of troubling the meeting with things which didn’t concern it at that time. Not all the women would have been in that category, but there were enough of them to draw out the apostle’s comment.
There is ample evidence in God’s word that women have been used by God to lead out in church affairs. For instance, Deborah, the wife of Lapidoth, “judged”, or led, Israel in the time of the judges, and General Barak even required that she go with him to the battlefield. Judges 4:4-9. In the New Testament Philip the evangelist had four daughters, all of whom are described as prophetesses. Acts 21:8-9. These women did not USURP the authority of men, but they had it GIVEN to them by their spiritual “Husband”, the LORD Jesus Christ.
And finally, we are told that there will be many women leading out in the last days. Peter said, “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days’, says God, ‘I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on My servants and on My handmaidens I will pour out in those days of My Spirit; and they shall prophesy”. Acts 2:16-18. They will certainly all be speaking out in meetings.
The following statement from my library says it all.
Those who would prohibit half the members of the church from speaking out that which God has shown them, even if they are not prophetesses, exhibit a wrong attitude. In today’s politically correct climate we should be careful not to unnecessarily upset those who are looking for a God who loves all His creatures, by making some of them second-class members of the church. God doesn’t, for He says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus”. Galatians 3:28.
So why the prohibition about speaking in church?
Or anywhere public for that matter.
It was the “shameful” way that the women of Corinth were doing this that called for Paul’s comment, and God has applied the principle to all women everywhere.
God calls upon His people to walk with care and holy consistency. They should be very careful not to misrepresent and dishonour the holy doctrines of truth by strange performances, by confusion and disagreement. By this unbelievers are led to think that church people are a set of fanatics. Thus prejudice is created that prevents listeners from receiving the message for this time. When believers speak the truth as it is in Jesus, they should reveal a holy, sensible calm, not a storm of confusion..
Here’s another word:
How should we treat this issue?
The attributes of mercy and love are nearly lost from the hearts of many professed Christians. We should remember that all make mistakes: even men and women who have had years of experience sometimes err; but God does not cast them off because of their errors; to every erring son and daughter of Adam He gives the privilege of another trial. The true follower of Jesus manifests a Christlike spirit toward his erring brother or sister. Instead of speaking in condemnation, he remembers the words, “He which converts the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” James 5:20.
Finally, why, and how, should women keep silent in church meetings?
1 Peter 3:
Here’s another translation of the above verses:
1 Peter 3:1-6 (MSG)
It would seem from the above texts and comments that the women of Corinth were trying to dominate the meetings and speaking over their husbands. So God’s advice to them (and others of like character) was that they should keep silent, have their discussions at home, and not act “shamefully”. Verse 35. Otherwise, women have as much right to speak and ask questions as the males, for "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 Jesus". Galatians 3:28.
Who wants to add (or subtract!) from these thoughts? I won't argue as I have stated, but I will publish your Scriptures so that we may review all the words of God on the subject.
Some of the comments on this page are adapted from books in my library. No recognition is given because they are not intended as authorities, but are used because they express my understanding clearly.
Next query. To be discussed from May 1st, 2007.
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