1 Corinthians 14:34 Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says.
For some time I have heard this passage preached and written regarding women in ministry. I have read and heard both sides of the argument, and my role in ministry has been questioned. There are a few things that I have learned that I would like to share with you here.
The Lord has anointed many women to do Kingdom work. Some are teachers, prophets, pastors, evangelists and yes, even apostles. So in seeing these women rise up and fulfill the calling the Lord has placed upon them, how does this scripture fit in?
Well, first we need to read what the scripture says, exactly, and the time it was written in and in the context in was written.
This was written in the first century. Women sat on one side of the church, and the men on the other side of the church. Women were probably not educated as the men were. As a result, they would have questions during the sermons. Paul was literally asking them to respect the service, and to ask the questions to their husbands when they got home.
The word “speak” here in the original Greek refers to chatting, questioning and arguing.
The word “silence” refers to having a calm undisruptive spirit, and be open to learning.
Paul was emphasizing order in the church, not that women should never speak or be active in the church.
Understanding the position of women in the early Church is important because it establishes the foundation for the ministry of women in the Church today.
Women were very instrumental in the church. Let’s look at a few examples:
Women in the early church were intercessors in prayer. In the city of Philippi, a group of women met by the river to pray
Act 16:13 And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there.
- Women were recipients of the Holy Spirit
The book of Acts records that the Holy Spirit came upon all, men and women:
Acts 2:17 ‘AND IT SHALL COME TO PASS IN THE LAST DAYS, SAYS GOD, THAT I WILL POUR OUT OF MY SPIRIT ON ALL FLESH; YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY, YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS, YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS.
Acts 2:18 AND ON MY MENSERVANTS AND ON MY MAIDSERVANTS I WILL POUR OUT MY SPIRIT IN THOSE DAYS; AND THEY SHALL PROPHESY.
- There were prophetess:
Acts 21:9 Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied.
- Women were Deacons in the church
Rom 16:2 That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.
The word “succourer” means one who stands before, a chief leader.
- We have an account of a woman Apostle:
Rom 16:7 Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
We see here that Junia is noted as an apostle, a fellow prisoner.
As a pastor, if you have a strong conviction that women should not take an active role in ministry, then abide by your conviction for conscience sake.
I leave you with this last verse:
Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
May you be richly blessed this day.