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Women in Ministry Series: Let the Women Keep Silent in the Church?

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For the earnest dividing of this saying, which no doubt was taken from Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth, we must be most thorough.

I Corinthians 14:34

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.

Now let us put this saying back into the context in which it was rendered.

A. Paul, in the 7th chapter, makes it clear he was writing this epistle in response to so some of the questions they had concerning church order.

I Corinthians 7:1

Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me...

He continues that chapter with instructions concerning marriage and divorce.

I Corinthians 8:1

Now as touching things offered to idols...

This continues to the 10th chapter. Then in the 11th chapter he begins to deal with social customs in the church that no doubt caused much confusion.

I Corinthians 12:1

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.

This continues through to the 14th chapter where we find our topic for the moment.

B. Notice this verse is contained in the chapter that continues to set in order the operation of the spiritual gifts and manifestations of the Holy Ghost in the church assembly.

C. Note also, and this is most important, the style with which the apostle

writes. Usually he re-writes their questions or dilemmas and then gives them his command as he received it from the Lord.

D. The 10th verse of the 11th chapter of Corinthians is an example of this method. The 34th and 35th verse of the 14th chapter are likewise an example of this method of answering their questions. In the 11th chapter Paul talks about and advocates a woman not only praying, but also prophesying (teaching, reproving, refuting, edifying and comforting) in the general assembly. Therefore, it is unthinkable he would in the same breath condemn her speaking in the service of the Lord. No beloved, the 34th and 35th verses are only a re-writing of the position some of the elders wanted to take in their dealings with the women in the assembly. They were, as we learn in his second letter, often troubled by the Judaizers who were endeavoring to keep the law and live in the household of faith. Note the terminology, “as also saith the law.” Well, Paul was the wrong one to mention placing anyone under the bondage of the law. Thus, he answers the implication with a sharp rebuke.

I Corinthians 14:36

What? Came the word of God out from you? Or came it unto you only?

Listen to the apostle defend the administration of the Holy Ghost. He actually asks, “Did the Word of God originate with you, oh man?” Are you the one who sent forth the Word? Therefore, you are the one to decide who shall deliver it to God’s people. So now you elders have become the administration of the callings of God. You’ve taken that responsibility away from the Holy Ghost.”

To add insult to injury he declares, “…or maybe the Word came to you only. Maybe this dispensing of the grace of God by-passed the woman, and was only received by the man.”

I Corinthians 14:37

If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

NOW THE JUDGMENT COMES! In this dispensation, the legalistic restraints of the law do not exist. The Father is pouring out His Spirit on all flesh and your sons and daughters will prophesy (teach, refute, reprove, admonish and comfort). GRACE IS NOT SUBJECT TO GENDER. Furthermore, it is the administration of the Father who calls, anoints and appoints the vessels to the office through which this grace will be dispensed. This is not, and never will be, the decision of any man or woman. The Lord is the author and finisher of our faith. These are the things Paul wrote to the churches under his guidance. And he warns every brother who thinks he is a prophet or spiritual to acknowledge that things come from the Lord.

I Corinthians 14:38

But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.

I hope I was able to shed some light on this unnecessary controversy. Paul used many women in his own ministry as we see throughout the Epistles, and acknowledged those who were noted in other works. In Romans the 16th chapter, we see a listing of some of the women in the gospel of which he referred to as servants of the Lord or fellow-prisoners. Among these are Junia, a female apostle who had gained much respect among the other apostles.

Beloved, allow the Holy Ghost to complete His work in you and the Father will most certainly endow you with the anointing to do the work of the ministry for the perfecting of the saints.


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