In 1 Cor. 14:34 the Apostle Paul’s letter states: “…the women should keep silent in the assemblies. For they are not permitted to speak but should be in submission, as the Law also says.” There are several major problems with this statement.

First, nowhere does the Jewish Law forbid women to speak in public gatherings. Paul, being a well-educated Jew, certainly would have known this. In fact, there was a law on the books that did forbid women to speak, vote and exercise authority over men by holding public office. It was not a Jewish, but a Roman law. These words would sound far more credible if someone else, other than the Jewish Apostle Paul, had written them.

Second, on numerous occasions throughout his travels and letters, the Apostle Paul affirmed the ministry of women (Rom 16:3-4; 1 Cor. 16:19; cf. Acts 16:11-40; 18:26). The centrality of the Shemah – the Oneness of Israel’s God, informed Paul’s theology when he wrote that in Christ-following assemblies there was no place for segregation or discrimination: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28)

In 1 Corinthians 11:5, he wrote that a woman’s head must be covered while she is engaged in speaking in tongues or prophesying in a public assembly. The question was not, therefore, if a woman could speak and teach, but how it should be done in a way that would be right before God, angels and the people of Corinth.

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When we read Paul’s letters we need to keep in mind that 1 Corinthians was not the beginning of this correspondence. Paul wrote at least one letter to the Corinthians prior to this (1 Cor. 5:9) and the Corinthian leadership had also written to him (1 Cor. 7:1). It is therefore highly probable that the statement in 1 Cor. 14:34-35 is a quotation from a letter that the Corinthian male leadership had addressed to Paul. It was their proposal on how to bring order into the disruptive practice of some women in the congregation as they spoke in tongues and prophesied. Paul, however, disagreed.

If this text is viewed as a quotation, then the challenge in 1 Cor. 14:36 that Paul brings to the male leadership makes perfect sense:

“Was it from you (masculine) that the word of God first went forth?! Or has it come to you (masculine) only?!”

The all-male leadership of the Corinthian congregation was not to forbid (women) to speak in tongues and themselves were to be encouraged to prophesy just as the women among them already were doing:

“Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy and do not forbid to speak in tongues. But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.” (1 Cor. 14:39-40)

Paul’s solution, therefore, was not to exclude half of the congregation from exercising the gifts of the Spirit, but rather to make sure that it was done in a respectful, proper and orderly fashion.

Was Paul right about women? Absolutely! His Corinthian opponents were not.

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  1. Last time when I mentioned that I am expecting a lot of hate mail to come in, I had a lot of comments begin “This is not a hate mail, but… “. Don’t worry, its ok to disagree!!!! We Jews (whether we follow Jesus or not) prefer clarity to agreement :-). So, let’s get this exciting conversation going. Does this article make any sense and deserve further examination?

  2. Paul was right about forbidding women from teachi g or having authority over men. You know this. Paul even gives a sound Biblical foundation. He states that Adam was created first, then Eve. This says it all. Worship services wouls be far less chaotic and noisy if women would keep silence. Let men lead. This is our calling.

  3. yes it very much agreement, but the church fathers not wron’t to let women teach in church’s i been reading the church fathers they was too much in let wemon do a lot.

  4. Yes, this subject makes a lot of sense. If today, we exclude the women from speaking in the church and teaching (men) in the church most Baptist churches could shut their doors and not really be missed. Who teaches the growing child, who teaches the teenager? The man is out in the fields making a living for the family, while the woman is at home tending the children. More women are scholars of the bible more than what men know. If women do not speak up and be heard, it is time for the Lord to come.

  5. Has it ever occurred to anyone that Paul was possibly trying to save the women of His day from persecution from the Roman’s and the Jewish leaders ????

  6. ABBA’S GIRLS is a short book that I wrote back a few years ago. ‘How are we to be, from a Biblical perspective?’ Still have it on email if someone wants to read it. PS. HE loves us girls.

  7. Eli, Why does a woman need to cover her head? That is what the Roman Catholics do/did. GOD has given me beautiful long naturally curly hair. I am Protestant. When GOD has used me in the gathering to prophesy, to speak a message in tongues or to give Interpretation of tongues , I have never had a scarf on my head/hair because people in the USA don’t wear them.. Why are women looked on as guilty of something in this regard as if she is lacking, in GOD’s Word?

  8. Fascinating! I see something even bigger than women’s rights. I believe “speaking (in tongues)” is one of the many factors contributing to a type of replacement theology; one based on language. I have been leaning towards identifying the two-fold revelation of Christ as “speaking in tongues”. (Jesus revealed Himself in my secular language.) I have used many secular words for it like prayer, hope, justice & victory, secrets of the dark(light). Is this what speaking in tongues is? Is it strong? Can it begin with the Logos of God and repentance rather than the NT and evangelism?

    • Kat, I think you will never really understand about speaking in tongues until you do speak in tongues. And even then there is misunderstanding by many. There are TWO types of “tongues” talked about in the NT: one is your personal prayer language (Paul said “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than any of you” – which may have just meant how much he prayed). The other is when that same language (the speaker’s personal gift) is used in church to bring a “Rhema” word from god to the church (or sometimes, in ministry, for one person)

  9. You certainly may be right, although this is a much longer quotation than in chapter 7. It may also be referring to disruptive speech. In light of 1 Cor. 11, it cannot mean all speech. In 14:27-28, Paul tells tongue speakers who have no one to interpret to keep silent and a prophet if another prophet begins to keep silent. Neither of those is a permanent ban on speaking. As for Rabbi David’s comment, referencing 1 Timothy 2, let me suggest Ben Witherington’s exposition (

  10. I’m in total agreement. I’ve known this for a long time. In reading Paul’s letters, you also have to take into context to whom he is talking to, what the culture is, etc. People take Paul’s (and anyone else in the Scriptures) words as black and white, written specifically to today’s westernized culture. Keep up the good teachings.

  11. I love it when women teach women & chidren since they know what women & children react to much better than men (know). I’ve been working in the secular world so long, & no female boss, supervisor could ever deal with me as a man. So, this commandment that no female should have authority over a male makes sense. I always found it unfair that only women could get pregnant! But there’s no way around it, I don’t have a womb, I can’t get pregnant. But, I can lead, can’t females leave this to the males, please?

  12. I will preach about soon and I think some people will hate but believe me Paul was right about women in the church, I’m with you all the way and thank you for bringing that up .

  13. I think it would be helpful to allow for the distinction between ministry in general and ministry as it specifically relates to the church service or offices in the church. One must also take into account the closed canon when utilizing tongues or prophesying as a proof text for one’s position. Of course, that would open a new conversation. Having said that, it is pretty difficult to dismiss Paul’s use of gender specific language.

  14. I find the whole topic very confusing…it’s something that can appear to be quite contradictory in Scripture. If I’m feeling somewhat down, it makes me think that I shouldn’t mention or get into a discussion with anyone, whether in or out of the church. I start thinking perhaps I shouldn’t talk about Jesus or the Bible or salvation or the Kingdom even if people ask me questions or bring it up. But then, of course, I can’t resist talking about what I know (insofar as I know anything). How can one not speak about Jesus?

  15. In your own words you have just clarified a topic that has dogged and been misinterpreted by various but not all Christian churches over the last 2000 years; so thank you. My point is great women like Deborah a prophetess the fourth Judge of pre-monarchic Israel. “Why would have she been appointed by Yahweh if women were forbid to talk or have authority?” Also queen Esther; it was through her position that King Xerxes found favour, that prevented the slaughter. It was also Esther’s decree that the festival of Purim was established to commemorate this event. Once again, Thank you.

  16. Thankyou very much Eli for clarifying this subject. The article makes a lot of sense and come to confirm my hypothesis that Paul’s state about women keeping silent in public and beeing dumbly submissive to thier husbands was more on a human basis than spiritual. And I’d always thought it adressed specific random situations in order to install discipline rather than a generalised one. I just pray and hope many believers would read your article. God bless you real good! Doris Dokubo

  17. I would agree with Rabbi David. It is about women having authority and teaching over men – this would not be the right order of things. Paul was clear on this. Women, obviously can minister in the church and are equal to men. The Corinthian church in general seems unruly and in need of teaching order. There seems plenty of precedence in the bible for women ministering but none for having authority (i.e. apostles, pastors, elders) in the spiritual sense (not talking secular position). Thank you, Dr. Eli for your ministry to us.

  18. It’s my understanding that some of the writings attributed to Paul were not written by him at all, though I can’t identify the source now. The author I’m thinking about labeled that material PseudoPauline, which makes sense to me. I used to be down on Paul about this until it came to my attention.

  19. Dr Eli, did Paul claim to speak for G-d, or is his work more comparable to a modern teacher such as a Billy Graham? Or is this question totally off the mark?

  20. I may be a little rusty on the details, but Professor Bart Ehrman in his studies of manuscripts makes the interesting point that Paul’s diatribe in Romans against women is not only uncharacteristic, but also is only found in one family of manuscripts, and among them this text is inserted in slightly different locations in the Epistle. This is consistent with the reference manuscript having has a comment placed in the margin, which was interpreted by some scribes as a correction without an exact location in the text rather than a reader’s comment.

  21. Question. Is there evidence in the bible of women preaching whether in a congregation or privately? Prophesying and teaching (with their head covered ie, by their husbands or an apostle, elder…)yes, eg Philips 4 daughters, Deborah, Miriam. However i have not read anything of women preaching.

  22. Makes sense. However, we must be careful. Paul also said that women are not to usurp authority over a man. I think women can pray, prophesy, worship audibly, but must never assume a position of authority over a man or men.

  23. I have seen many men who are not leading anyone anywhere. That in its self is so sad. If some woman don’t step up who will? The men seem to have lost their way in so much. To include leadership in the family as Christian men of the Lord.

  24. Perhaps Paul was wrong and a liar when he said. ” If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual let him acknowledge that the things I write to you are the commandments of the Lord” 1Cor 14:37 That must surely rule a lot of commentators out. Along with many others the tongue speakers love to state that the gifts mentioned in that chapter are valid and for today but somehow relegate to a past era vv 32-40 or being a problem that Paul had. Also to use Priscilla taught publicly in a church is plain error.

  25. Paul Is a “Resoponder” Paul quotes a letter he received. It is a shock to him … Read his response at the end of the quote: A very Isreali response, a resounding… WHAT? When a matter is rejected. Some English translations actually omit it! It was a Roman law that forbade women, not a Jewish law. Recall a couple of Torah facts: God placed three persons to lead His people from Egypt: Moses, Aaron and Miriam Remember Deborah? God blessed them and many other women for their faithfuness and fearlessness to His Word. Maureen Harrison

  26. When I studied these passages re women’s silence in seminary it always seemed to me rhat it was an addition insertes by Roman or Greek translatora with an agenda – it just was to far from Sha’ul’s thinking. PerhPs I wasn’t too far off point! Thank you Dr. Eli.

  27. May be Paul was responding to a particular situation in that church only,right? When he insisted on women appear with modest clothing in church with the intention of message get more attention than the speaker..

  28. Interesting, but Paul doesn’t mention that it was an input coming from the Corinthians as he did previously in the same epistle (for example 1 Cor 7:1). Also the Torah states that the wife is under the authority of her husband although the Torah doesn’t forbid speaking publicly. So Paul may refer to the closest statement when he mentioned the Torah. Blessings to all. Let’s all of us keep digging.

  29. We are all equal before GOD.How can we grow spiritually if our other half cannot give their equally sound teaching about all necessary aspects of life.?!.Come on,this is 2017,stop being so legalistic. I am a man who needs both sides of all issues in life.I really get the(unhealthy) feeling that there are far too many men feeling inferior to women.?.Sadly true,hmm.!?.No wonder our secular and Christian world cannot function and prosper fully the way GOD intended it.?.Come on guys,change your soul destroying attitude towards your wife right now and experience the FULL life JEHOVA JIRAH intends for you to enjoy.!

  30. Thank you Dr. Eli. It would have been helpful to accept if one of the Apostles was a woman, if one of the deacons chosen by the apostles was a woman, if one of the bishops was a woman. I believe women have roles to play in the body of Christ, but when it comes to authority in the church, I strongly believe the men are to be in charge. One of the reasons I think, is that women are naturally emotional and church leadership should never be based on emotions. However, women are not exempted from spiritual gifts.

    • Thank you, Jerry. In early Church traditional there is strong current of thinking of Mary Magdalene as Apostle of the Apostles.

      • Dr. Eli. I personally do not accept it because there is no reference to it anywhere in the scriptures. There are so many documentaries out there which do not have any scriptural correlation. This is my conviction.

  31. Prophesying is to give testimony (to other believers) as different from making decisions. One needs to take other parameters into account, for instance the general structure of ancient society where slaves and women were owned (literally) by household heads, freemen who paid taxes. Not surprisingly anything relating to authoritative participation other than yielding testimony would be reserved to men, to ensure harmony with Roman law as a whole. Jewish society wasn’t too different either; we don’t see much of women in the councils leading to the condemnation of Jesus.

    • In Torah women play very important roles. Take for example Tzipora that saves Moses from the hand of God when God comes to take his life.

  32. I have a hard time believing Saul/Paul discriminate against talented women. We had both male and female teachers at schools I attended – and the best teacher of all was a woman who taught grades four through six in one room. No child failed and, to my knowledge, and no one received a “social pass,” as some do today. In the 1940’s school was school, not an indoctrination center, as are some today. Dr. Eli, you are likely correct in your evaluation!

  33. Maybe you missed the point – Paul is not talking about a law saying that women should not speak or teach. Context is the subject of ORDER in the congregation with goal of edification. He gives several examples on order. The Greek used is καταλαλέω, and the translation shown is rather limited. The more accurate meaning of καταλαλέω is to importune, to prattle, blurt out, push a point. Blurting out or being too aggressive would not be “in submission” to her husband, and this would not be good order. Done in order and the husband agrees, women can teach

  34. Re. women exercising “authority” over men, in _Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity Without Hierarchy_, Linda Belleville makes a strong case that this word ought to be translated something like “domination,” which is more to the point of Paul’s instruction. It is also hard to understand why Paul would elsewhere give instructions on _how_ women are to speak publicly, then here tell them that they can’t speak at all.

  35. I was taught that the Synagogue was a House of Worship, a House of Prayer and a House of Business. The “House” referred to in this scripture was the House of Business. To keep business orderly and timely, only the men discussed it at the House of Business and then discussed it at home with their wives. Later, the men could discuss their various ideas and decisions again with the men.

  36. When the women ministers unto Yeshua and the apostles, they were serving them. When it say ministering it doesn’t mean preaching or teaching. but mean serving them and keeping away from their conversations around the men. When Paul said women not to speak in the assemblies it means in the church service or Torah readings and etc. In other words not for the women to be like a pastor and go up and teach in front of the congregation. And of course to cover their heads in respect to their husband and Messiah if they are not married.

  37. This may or may not be related, but this bit from 1 Corinthians 14:35 I find confusing….if a woman doesn’t understand something she must ask her husband at home and not in church. But what if the husband doesn’t understand either? Or perhaps he has to go back and ask another man to explain and then return and explain to his wife? Perhaps part of my problem in not understanding how services were conducted then…cont in my next post

  38. Cont from my last post:- Nowadays we can go up to the vicar or pastor or other men and women and say ‘I didn’t quite get what was being said in the sermon’…or ‘That raises another question in my mind’ and one can discuss it and hopefully get answers. It would be no use my going home to my husband to ask him things…he knows far less than I do (about the Bible etc)

  39. That’s a tough subject. To say “may be” or “ I think “ doesn’t explain Paul’s real words. We know that in the church of Corint were many “disorders”. So , no doubt, there had been situations when the women were “jumping the fence “ and Paul had to intervene. That was a “particular” situation and not a general statement. Other way he would write this to all churches. What is important, for all of us, men and women to respect the rules given to us by Jesus thru His apostles and avoid any “ jump over the fence “

  40. Very interesting thank you Dr Eli.A very interesting book “Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality in the middle ages” by John Boswell is an interesting read.From my embryology education all mammalian embryos start out as a female and if the Y chromosome is present then some sex organs are enlarged and some deleted.Just trying to bring more love and peace,health and respect among all peoples on earth.Sincerely, hugs and peace to all

  41. what is JEWISHNESS? are you referring to JUDAISM? please clarify, You tend to use the word JEWISH quite a lot, bear in mind that there are 12 tribes in Israel. Now are you teaching against Gospels of the ReNewed Testament or introducing JEWISHNESS AS A GOSPEL? The word Jewish Jesus? Yes He was from the tribe of Judah, But He was totally against JUDAISM, the PRUSHIMS (Pharisees) and the ZADOKIM (Sadducees), they enacted over 500 laws which they teach from the Talmud, there TAKANOT. JESUS deliberately broke many of the man made rules enacted by the religion sect.

  42. Very interesting thank you Dr Eli.The book “Christianity Social Tolerance and Homosexuality in the middle ages” by John Boswell also notes how women hadn’t any power in early Christianity.In my embryology education all mammalian embryos start out development as a female and if the Y chromosome is present the sex organs are either enlarged or deleted.I pray for more love and peace on earth.Hugs and love and peace to all

  43. Dr. Eli, I saw you repeatedly saying it is Romans but not Torah that forbid female roles. But I have a genuine doubt. Does Torah ask women to keep themselves away during their menstrual cycle, and in that case is it practical to be actively involved in church activities?

  44. It doesnt say excercise authority over men, it says a man. If it was in a church then it would be men. I think Paul is talking about a wife Exercising authority over her husband here. What do you think?

  45. Rev Anthony Bradshaw Very interesting topic, hear’s my thoughts, Deborah was a prophets in Judges 4,and the king had to go to her for advice from God, there was also Hilda,2Chr:34, and also the father of three daughters that prophecied. God used many women in the OT, I don’t understand what’s the problem now.

  46. Jean, you should ask another woman and she can ask her husband. Do this out of respect for your husband even though he is not there and for Messiah. And by all means if you cannot get an answer than do ask your pastor because you have no choice. At least you tried getting answer the way it suppose to be. Be strong!

    • Thank you. That makes sense….so I suppose in New Testament times, a woman would be able to do the same thing. I hadn’t thought of that. This also makes me wonder if a woman who was a believer but whose husband wasn’t would actually have been able to attend a church meeting? Perhaps it would depend on the husband.

  47. Ultimately we should be thankful for the Faithful Prophetesses mentioned in the Bible. Miriam, Deborah, Hanna, Abigail, Huldah, Esther, & Sarah. If it was not for the faithfulness of Sarah and the promise made to Abraham we would not be where we are today. The Heavenly clock is getting closer to the appointed time when G-d will send His Son back to establish the Kingdom of God based in Jerusalem.

  48. Dr. Eli. I’m curious as to why you say “while she is engaged in speaking in tongues” in your article you say “In 1 Corinthians 11:5, he wrote that a woman’s head must be covered while she is engaged in speaking in tongues or prophesying in a public assembly”. I’ve looked at a number of translations and can’t find one that mentions “tongues” in this verse. Of course, it is mentioned later in 1 Corinthians.

    • Shalom, Neil. Perhaps, I made a mistake there. My point is prophesying/speaking. Thank you for bringing this up. Eli

      • Shalom to you also. Not trying to be smart 🙂 . The reason I was asking was because I have been a Christian most of my life with a large part of that in a ‘Pentecostal’ denomination. Woman sometimes prophesy and/or speak in tongues with the Interpretation in services, usually without a ‘covering’. The sad thing though is that it is quite possible to be an UnHoly Pentecostal which is I think what Paul was addressing with the Corinthians. Some people believe the woman’s covering is her hair.

  49. Wasn’t it Corinth where the cult of Diana tried to get Paul lynched by the mob? So if you had men who were married to Dianists, wouldn’t they try to do as much as possible to disrupt the services? But at the same time their husbands would want to see them in services so they would hear the word and get saved. Just.a thought.

  50. 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: Now how do you the word “shame” Again 1 Tim 2:12 confirms that women are not allowed to speak in the church. Twice the apostle Paul pointed on the same issue. What’s wrong with acknowledging the Word of God in literal sense?

  51. Gifts of the spirit Aren’t tongues supposed to be INTERPRETED by another spiritually informed member of the shule ONLY to EDIFY (encourage / build up) the other members of the congregation — these days it is used to confuse & distract people from understandin the true message of KING YESHUA — the BABBLE ON -IONS —- just saying rubbish silly words & noises & no-one can understand anything Thanks D.R. Eli

    • Thank you, Nicholas. I agree this is a significant issue that must be approached with discernment and humility.

    • Nicholas, great words! The gift of tongues expressed in Acts 2 was the true gift from God. Believers heard and understood the words of the apostles in their own many and varied native “tongues”. Also present were unbelievers; Acts 2:19. The words of John 8:47 come to mind. Later Paul was aware of the “babble on- ions” of which you speak of on a contemporary basis. He tried to shut it down requiring interpretation. Others, perhaps looking for recognition among the congregation, willingly stepped up. Paul later referred to the gibberish as a prayer language…a prayer to God. Interpreter: Message

    • “Tongues” has been a very controversial subject among many faiths. The sad fact is those who are not filled with the Holy Spirit (and enjoying the requisite gifts) are the very ones who try to explain these gifts. It simply cannot be done! Tongues are mentioned in three different ways in the NT. One is the “speaking in tongues” when one is initially filled with the Spirit (as on the Day of Pentecost/Shavuot. This involves speaking in a known language (which clearly could be understood by some) as the Holy Spirit gives utterance. The second is when someone exercises (at the unction of the Holy Spirit) the “gift of tongues” . Within the parameters Paul gave in his letter to the Corinthians, this “speaking in tongues” is to be interpreted by someone (for the edification of the Body) who has “the gift of interpreting tongues. If after the third utterance no one interprets the first person’s message then he is to keep silent and give no further message in tongues. This was Paul’s clear instruction to avoid confusion in the assembly. This gift had been misused by some. The third is when one is praying and the Holy Spirit utters through them words which are not understood by anyone “eavesdropping”, so to speak. This is for their edification and no one else’s. Interpretation is not required. Some have ignorantly misused this gift as well, allowing their flesh to be puffed up for vain-glory. The second and third instances of “speaking in tongues” have been much misunderstood by many. I hope this explanation helps.

  52. #1: Huldah the Prophetess (2 Kings 22), to whom King Josiah sent the current HIGH PRIEST so she could prophesy about the text found in the wall of the old temple. A woman taught a High Priest! #2, Deborah led MEN into battle!! #3, Jesus didn’t tell Mary to go help Martha; He told Martha that, like Mary, she ought to study that which couldn’t be taken from her. #4 Corinth was a seat of goddess worship. Some of the women attending Paul’s church would have been female gentiles fresh from pagan worship which was lewd and boisterous. Ahem!!

  53. Fascinating! You can’t tell Roman citizens to submit to all governing authorities and toss Roman law out the window. At the same time you can’t tell Christ followers to submit to both Christ and the power (mark/image) of the beast . Paul juggled both beautifully. The starting point is “women should be in submission, as the law says. The victory is that Jesus did not submit to Roman law. Women obviously were reached with or without their husbands! Look at how far we have come (unless you believe in Biblical law without the law of the land)!

  54. Apologetics describes speaking in tongues as “a phenomena where a person speaks in a language that is unknown to him”. Doesn’t this help make the case for replacement theology? Surely speaking in tongues is Jesus making known Himself in our language. “If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.” I need 1st century definitions for prophet, prophecy, and speaking in tongues. Our apologetics refutes doctrines but leaves us in the dark about original meanings.

  55. Doctor, I would love it if you’d explain the passages like Ephesians 5:22-23 concerning women submitting to their husbands. I have had discussions with other Christians who insist that women must be submissive, including when the husband is abusive or irresponsible. I tend to think this passage relates to that time and place. What do you think?

  56. Bump: What was the context for Deborah’s appointment? Israel had back-slidden (badly), her appointment was to highlight THAT, not Deborah. It speaks to us now when we do the same and ignore God’s Word and His appointed arrangement of things. We miss a womens’ real gifts when we expect them to behave like men, in authority over men etc. God through His son appointed 12 apostles who were men, there is no support for “feminism.” If those men had all failed, He would have found an honest women to shame them, like Deborah, even a bird, (or a stone.)

  57. When Paul said women were not allowed to speak in church, and if they want to know anything they have to ask their husbands at home., what if the husband is an unbeliever and he is against the Faith of Christ? and another one is when Paul told Timothy that HE forbids a women to teach,,does that mean that me being a female born again believer is not allowed to share Christ with anyone ,am I to keep silent about what Christ did for ? I have male family members that ask me Biblical questions , do i ignore them?

  58. Wow, there is a lot of discussion. Paul is consistent between Corinthians and Timothy where he instructs Timothy about women. What is important here is that Paul is speaking for himself which he makes very clear. Many Bible believers say that the Bible makes this rule. Paul is not speaking for God in this particular case which is an important consideration.

    • Dale, perhaps you can reread the article and interact with it more. The point was not that he speaks for himself and not for God (unless I misunderstood you), but that he is refuting the comments are usually ascribed to him!

  59. Hi Eli, As far as I know there was no Greco-Roman law against women speaking in religious assemblies. As I understand it there were Greco-Roman priestesses who presumably spoke in assemblies. Doesn’t the reference to “the Law” refer to the Mosaic writings (e.g., Gen 3:16, 18:12, Ex 21:7-11, Num 30:1-8)? I think it is important to note that 1 Cor 11 does not limit the covering directions to “public assemblies,” so there is nothing here that implies that women spoke in public assemblies. I can’t see a reason to think “speak” in 1 Cor 14 is limited to tongues.

    • Roman Law did forbid woman to hold office or vote/speak in public assemblies. It all really starts and ends here :-).

  60. I think humbly that when a woman speaks in congregation many of man get excited, and in old times among the Jews, the reason the woman had to be modest in worship places is in order not to attract/disrupt and excite the man. Concentrating on prayer and service at the required times was very important. Husbands love your wives.

  61. Thank you Dr. Eli for your teaching. One of the things that jumped out was the passage concerning things being done in a proper way and in orderly manner. We need discernment in the area as followers of Messiah. There are too many churches where there have been manifestations of things not being done properly and in an orderly manner but where members appear to go wild. One example I saw in a video was a Christian in a congregation suddenly run across an aisle, jump on top of the pulpit, danced a little, then jump down to the back.

  62. Dr. Eli…..BY FAITH, I believe Gal:1-12, to be a TRUE statement…. If so?…all that Paul says, about EVERYTHING, is ALSO TRUE…. I have NO intelligence, nor knowledge, TO SECOND GUESS….. Go Figure…..

  63. Paul is not referring to the law speaking on women keeping silence, but he is referencing the law regarding women’s submission. Several times the law states that women are under ‘the authority’ of their husband or father, specifically in making vows, but also in the law of jealousy. I believe this is the ‘as also saith the Law’ Paul refers to. Paul referencing the law makes perfect sense to his argument. Whether it should be followed today or not is another arguments altogether.

  64. Dr. Eli, I have looked at this question quite closely, and would sharply disagree with your conclusion. In a book just published, ALL the relevant passages (including the Corinthian passages are considered), and places where the LAW (OT) does restrict the propriety of women’s speech. The book is on Amazon (link below) if you would like a discussion of the major passages.

    As in All the Churches
    A Close Look at the Call for Full Female
    Participation in Leadership in the Church

    1. What is Truth? – Reason, feelings, conscience, tradition, and revelation are considered as potential sources of truth.
    2. Faith and Opinion – There is a Biblical faith. How that faith relates to individual opinions of what is essential are considered and how we relate to one another in areas of opinion.
    3. Principles of Interpretation – What “tools” do we use in understanding the language and meaning of Biblical texts, and how do those tools shape our understanding and application of Scripture?
    4. Beginning at the Beginning – In Genesis 1-3 we find the first interactions between man and woman. What can we learn from the first pair?
    5. Galatians 3:28 – The Magna Carta of Equality? Most who seek a wider role for women in participation and leadership in the church view this passage as central to their argumentation. Does it really apply?
    6. Heads and Hair – 1 Corinthians 11 and 14. At first glance these passages seem at odds with each other; looking at them together, is there really a contradiction?
    7. Subjection, Submission, or Mutual Submission? – Ephesians 5. In what ways, if any, are women subject to men in the church? In what areas might there be mutual submission?
    8. Speaking, Shush, or Silence? – Timothy, Titus and Peter. Paul and Peter discuss specific activities for women. Where and how do any such restrictions apply?
    9. What About the Women? – Biblical Women in the Bible. Numerous women are given significant attention through the narrative of Scripture. What do we learn about their role in the religious life of their communities?
    10. Conclusions. – So what? How then should we live? Is this discussion one that benefits the church? Are we likely to see peace or dissension and division?

  65. I agree that Paul was probably quoting, then answering the Corinthian’s question concerning women in leadership, showing he did not agree with their Patriarchal view. As for women’s head covering, perhaps their hair was suggested as a replacement for the tallit that men would wear.

    • Anyone interested in women and head-covering you HAVE GOT TO HEAR what Michael Heiser says about it – it brilliant.

  66. I like reading Paul’s writing they are interesting and makes one think and he has a tendecy to write in circles which make the reader think more. as for the women in the Bible not covering there heads that i just noticed is more to the fact that they should have long hair not short hair, the hair is their covering, I remember a time when growing up my one grandmother always wore a scarf in the house or outside. i never understood why. and my other grandmother never left the house for church or uptown without a hat on. I am wondering how much of this is a cultural thing since now many females do not wear scarfs on their head or hats unless they want to. as for women being silent in church with paul i think he was thinking that the women did not have a right to teach or even had the knowledge to speak up like the men where taught. I just read something a few minutes ago which made me think part of this was cultural more than anything else. because God Nor Jesus ever stop women from being in control as Deborah was leading an army of men. someone brought up Adam and Eve, my question is why did Adam not stop Eve from eating the fruit in the first place. so when you think of this why did he just take and eat the fruit which he could have said no i will not take and eat it. AS for Eve she should have thought that it would not be to her benefit to eat it so yes she was deceived but the fact she was looking at the fruit as being good and wondered in mind how it may taste is this possible. the may thing is that we learn from the mistakes that were made and that we listen and learn from the Lord through his word. thank you

  67. Thank you for your article. This part in I Cor 14:34 and the other Scripture verses you quoted are not the only ones dealing with the issue of male and female roles and functions in the church. Why didn’t you start from the beginning in Genesis 1 – 3 which gives us the original creation ordinances is foundational for this topic? To be noted as well is Genesis 3:16 where God said that she would want to control / manipulate the man.
    Very ignificant also is that Christ who overthrew some of the conventions of his time didn’t appoint even one woman as a disciple.
    Coming then to the next development relating the topic it is certainly unexpectable to be dealing selectively only with some verses covering a topic like the verses you quoted in your article but then omit other relevant verses and passages – in this case passasges like I Tim. 2:9-15, 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-11, etc.
    I understand that people usually use only ‘n limited or selected verses if they want to prove their preconceived position.

    The statement in I Tim 2 refering to the differentiation of the gender roles is backed up by the creation ordinances – something which cannot be overturned but being restored through the work of Christ.

    Your reference to Gal. 3:28 is not valid in this instance – the context over there is the validity and scope of Christ’s work for all people, not the place, roles and functions of male and female. We should be careful not to confuse our relationship with God with our relationship with each other.

    The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womenhood (CBMW) deals extensively with gender issues where they have numerous scholars who are going in depth into all the various aspects.

  68. The issue Paul starts out with is about Prophesy/Tongues. Paul says at one point.For you may ALL prophesy one by one.that ALL may learn,and ALL may be comforted.And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not of confusion,but of peace,as in ALL churches (which would be called out) of the saints.Paul is having to addressing several issues.1.Possibly one up manship,speaking out of turn,over each other,and he is having to set organization with these men.Who are bringing up the issue. The Corinthians are a bit of a free for all. THEN Paul basically breaks into issue about women.
    The Corinthians seem to have been having a male moment as it was a corrupt quarrelsome region. Paul says What instead of his usual God forbid and then asked the Corinthians if the word he was bringing orginated with the Corinthians or with God?Then he reaffirms that Paul is passing on the commandments of God not the man law of that assemble or of the Corinthians. Paul then returns to talking about prophecy/tongues after his brief segway about women. Again about one upper men.Some people get it, some don’t!
    FromTorah/Tanach we know that Mariam was a Levitical prophetess.We know Debra,as well as several other women in the Tanach.We don’t see Debra asking for permission to prophesy. Paul was addressed by a lineal prophetess. Examples, from the Prophets shows us that prophesy can be a dangerous role for male prophets. They usually got physically attacked,hung in cisterns,killed, etc.
    The law in Torah that might vaguely apply: A woman could be overiden or have a vow nullify by a father or a husband.That does not appear to apply in this case.These were gentiles not the actual Temple. Paul states a woman’s hair is her covering.

  69. With authority comes responsiblity. Word was given to Adam not Eve. Adam was irresponsible. If you want authority then you have to accept responsibility.

  70. In Joel and Acts Scripture says “Your sons AND daughters shall prophecy”. In the NT some women prophets were mentioned including Junia. The 1st Evangelist to the gentiles was the Samaritan woman and the 1st to proclaim Yeshua had risen was Mary Magdelan. Priscilla taught the Apostle, Apollos.

  71. Paul may have forbade women to speak in churches he established AMONG THE GENTILES, to prevent a stumbling block to the men in these churches, who were pre-conditioned by the pagan culture they grew up in to be manipulated by women “ministers and prophetesses” who mixed their feminine charms with “spiritual ministry” to increase “religious devotion” (give money). As for the women that are mentioned in the new testament as ministers, there is no way for us to know if they ministered in front of a large group. There is a different dynamic at work in a large scale setting.

  72. I appreciate the insight here as a woman who’s not a feminist and grateful for a wonderful husband who I view as my partner/protector. But I also love to study scripture everyday and find myself drawn to bible scholars for their insight. I feel like I have a lot of great knowledge to contribute to conversations at Bible studies and I feel like I could deliver a pretty great sermon on certain topics, but I feel like this passage has caused me to doubt the abilities God has given me. This article settled my heart. Thank you.

  73. This has nothing to do with women speaking ,
    IT IS WOMENSLIB ,women are good men are bad,
    There is not one good men or women in the whole world .
    No person that thinks I am good will ever enter the Kingdom of God .
    Klaas Christchurch NZ

  74. Dr. Eli, as an Evangelical Christian in the Free Methodist Church in Canada, and as a teacher of God’s word, I am very pleased with your article. This is something I have believed for many years, but you have stated it very articulately. I have more to say about this, but this post is limited in the words that it will accept. Blessings in the Lord, Joe.

  75. That which was to be taught is described in the pastoral epistles as –
    1. doctrine(s) 1 Timothy 1:3; 6:3)
    2. trustworthy statement(s) (1 Timothy 1:15; 3:1; 4:9; 2 Timothy 2:11; Titus 3:8)
    3. sound doctrine (1 Timothy 4:6; Titus 2:1)
    4. words of the faith (1 Timothy 4:6)
    5. sound words (1 Timothy 6:3; 2 Timothy 1:13)
    6. truth and faith (2 Timothy 2:18)
    7. faithful word (Titus 1:9)
    8. sound in the faith (Titus 1:13)

    Does this sound like merely cultural considerations?

  76. So what does the Law say? There is no direct quote, and all suggestions are informed (or uninformed) opinions. The more consistent view would point back to Genesis 2 and male headship, but perhaps as much so to the understanding of the head of the home having overruling authority regarding the speech of his wife or daughter, particularly with reference to a vow (Numbers 30). This allusion would seem in keeping with the role of male headship designed by God. It is to the practice of the Law that Paul affirms as a spiritual principle. However, we are not dependent on this allusion or inference for a Biblical doctrine

  77. When Paul states “as in all the churches” he is moving beyond any limited, local consideration and into the realm of universal principles and practices.

  78. Dr. Eli’s view (1Cr.7:1) and in verse 36 negates their question. In support, a tertiary meaning of the Greek disjunctive hvj. It can mean “or,” “either-or,” or “what” (1 Cr. 9:6-7). It is this last meaning that evangelical feminists seek to use. Therefore, Paul does not mean what he earlier said in vss. 33-34, and is now explaining his intent. If this were true, the long supposed questions “quoted” by Paul and his terse response would be unique in all of Paul’s writings of the entire NT. DR. Eli is WRONG on this. No hate, just sadness.

  79. The main point of these three verses is that the Corinthians have not (nor have evangelical feminists) arrived at some self-recognized superior spiritual understanding that gives permission or right to invent practices inconsistent with Apostolic authority or with the practices of their fellow believers.

  80. Dr. Eli, Great thread…!!! I totally agree that Paul is quoting a previous letter at 1 Co. 14:34 -35. He was a professional rhetorician (note Mars Hill). This is wonderful rhetoric, as is the question following! Combined they are a powerful answer in rhetorical form! The KJV is the most literal and easiest translation for a teacher to use here to make your (correct) point. My paraphrase of v. 38 pertains…, “If anyone can’t figure this out he must have a problem…!!!” This is good news for women… and the churches as well… Been teaching it this way 50 years!

  81. Hi should we as Gentiles only follow the teachings of Apostle Paul? The rest of the Bible God is speaking to the Jews..GOD gave Paul a message that was a secret hidden for ages that was tailor-made just for us Gentiles. And do we have the right to claim promises GOD made to the JEWS in the economy..


    • tPaul certainly wrote plenty to a Gentile audience, but he also wrote plenty to a Jewish audience. So, here’s the big picture: the momentum of the Gospel is that all families would be blessed through the seed of Abraham, Yeshua the Messiah. So believing Gentiles are invited to join (not replace or remain segregated from) Israel in being sons of God. If you read only Paul, you will miss even most of what Paul means to say because you’ll be missing the Jewish context.

  82. Am going to weigh into this argument. Adam did not have the rule over Eve in the garden. They were both made in the image of God and only in Gen 3 when they fell into sin did God gave man the rule over women. Yeshua came to put us back into fellowship with ABBA and no where does Yeshua give man the dominion over women. The first person He delegates to take a message to His disciples is a woman. Paul is addressing the Jewish congregations where men and women were under the Old Testament

  83. If Paul is quoting a question from the Corinthians, the supposed questions quoted by Paul and his response would be unique in all of Paul’s writings, or anywhere else in the New Testament. Male spiritual leadership is established before Gen 3. If all were completely equal, why doe God approach Adam first? Likely because Adam failed as the spiritual head of his home. Paul’s argument is based on the Creation order: God -Christ – Man – Woman in 1 Cr 11, and from the Law in 1Cr 14 – likely referring to Dt. 30.

  84. Thank you for your explanation of this text. Would it be possible that another rendering of the text could be “Your women are being kept silent in the church. They are not being permitted to speak, but are being kept under the command of the law” (the Roman one). They did this as a way to keep order, as you said. But it was not something Paul encouraged or commanded. He believed the church should have order without exclusion, is that accurate?

    Thank you!

    • The same form for “keep silent” is found in 1Cor 14:28,30 (albeit singular instead of plural). Do you think they should be translated as you propose?

  85. some queries. 1. Are there any records of female leaders in the Temple and synagogues from the tribe of Levi in Israel from past or present even among the Hasidic? 2. Are there any records of female bishops from the early churches-Coptic, Catholic, Orthodox etc even the ones who were exterminated by persecution for being heretics? In general one would expect from your interpretation the first 200 years would have shown your” view” from the actions of the churches. Present day secular Israel did have a female leader as do/did other secular governments in Europe and Asia.

  86. Once again I will make the point: in Galatians (esp. 3:28) Paul is talking about access to salvation, NOT about gender roles! The passage is horribly misused by egalitarians. The passages where Paul DOES speak about now one should behave in the “household of God (1 Tim. 3:15) should control our understanding of other incidental references that may seem unclear. (“As In All the Churches”), available through Amazon.


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