Topics of Concern

Women in ministry?

1CO 14:33 As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says.

But what law is Paul referring to? There is no Mosaic law forbidding women to speak in the assembly, actually the opposite seems to have been the case, Miriam was a prophetess, through whom the Lord spoke:

NU 12:1 Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses . . . “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?”

Ex. 15:20-21 is one example where Miriam spoke in praise of God, when the people were assembled together. Since the law referred to here must refer to some form of submission, the most natural application would be of a wife to her husband (Gen. 3:16, Eph. 5:22, etc.). Women were apparently not strictly forbidden to speak in church, as Paul writes here:

1CO 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.

1CO 11:5 And every woman who prays or prophesies …

1CO 14:31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.

I think 1 Cor. 14:33 has to do with wives asking questions in a way that “run around” their husband:

1CO 14:35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home.

People (wives, even!) can ask questions in church meetings in a way that will embarrass their spouses, to imply that “they don’t know the answer, so I must ask this here,” and I think this is what this is referring to, wives submitting to their husbands, to let them be the spiritual head of their home, and to have the Lord speak through them to answer questions in a context of discipleship.

Here is another passage:

1TI 2:11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.

I think this refers to discipleship, to learning. And this applies to men, too, men don’t have permission to learn in disruptive disobedience!

1TI 2:12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.

And again, this may well refer to one-on-one discipleship among adults, a woman should not disciple a man: “A woman … a man.” Verse 10 and 15 speak of “women,” but Paul changes in verses 11-14 to “a woman.”

And women can teach and even have authority in the fellowship of believers:

MIC 6:4 I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam.

“To lead you”…

JDG 4:4-5 Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites came to her to have their disputes decided.

AC 18:26 [Apollos] began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.

“Paul speaks appreciatively of the fact that Timothy himself had been taught the right way by his godly mother and grandmother (2 Tim 1:5; 3:15).” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary)

PR 8:32-33 “Now then, my sons, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways. Listen to my instruction and be wise.” (Wisdom speaking to “my sons,” personified as a woman).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *