Silent Women?

Q. I have a question about your thoughts on 1 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.

How does this correlate to today and why was it abolished?

A. I’m afraid we might be the victims of a translation less specific than it should have been here. Paul was not forbidding women ever to speak at all, or else why would he have admonished them to wear a head covering when praying and prophesying? (1 Cor. 11:5-6)

The context of the verse you’ve cited is orderly worship, and the Greek word translated “speak” means to talk, question, argue, or chatter. These are disruptive actions of which some women were guilty. In support of this, in 1 Cor. 14: 35 Paul said that if ever they didn’t understand what that was going on, or had a contrary opinion about something being said, they should wait and discuss it with their husbands when they got home.

The definition for “speak” specifically did not prohibit singing, praying, prophesying or public speaking, which women, like men, have always been welcome to do in the church as long as it’s done in an orderly manner.

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