A Brief Answer to “Should Women Be Silent in Church?”

Paul writes what have been pretty controversial words in 1 Corinthians 14:34:

The women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says.

So what does that mean? Is it plainly that women shouldn’t be allowed to talk in a church service?

Here is the brief answer I supplied for this week’s Bible study:

In chapter 14 Paul has been writing about speaking in church and not speaking in church, trying to maintain order in the church’s worship service. He has told both those speaking in tongues and speaking prophecy to be silent. He tells them to be silent to protect worship and encourage peace and the building up of the body. He doesn’t tell them to be silent because they have no place in worship–Paul actually lifts up their value in these last few chapters. In that context, it is not unlikely that he is telling women now to be silent because of disruptions in worship that may have occurred as women, in that time usually less educated and separated from the men in worship, were talking with each other or speaking to their husbands asking questions in order to better understand what was being said. Paul would rather that take place elsewhere and he values peace over confusion and commotion when the church gathers.

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