disgraceful for a wife to speak

May 2016 (24)

1 Corinthians 14:33-35

1Co 14:33 Because God is not about imbalance, but he is about peace, as is demonstrated in all the assemblies of the holy ones.
1Co 14:34 Your wives need to remain silent in those assemblies, because they are not permitted to speak, but they must be subordinated, as Corinthian law says.
1Co 14:35 But, if they want to be discipled, they need to ask their own husbands at home. Because it is disgraceful for a wife to speak out in the assembly.

disgraceful for a wife to speak

The context of this bit of instruction is chaos during public worship in the Corinthian assemblies. The primary cause of that chaos was identified as people going into long spurts of praise or prayers in foreign languages. Paul had already advised against that, at least requiring that a translation be given as well, so that the listeners are not confused.

Now, Paul tacks on another piece of advice, meant to avoid similar confusion at those same assemblies. It seems that some of the wives, eager to learn more about the gospel, are beginning to interrupt their husbands while they are preaching with questions. There is no law against any such thing in the Bible, so Paul must have been referring to a local ordinance when he said that the law prohibits that. He also said it was disgraceful, which is the same thing he said about women with short hair (11:6). Again, he was speaking of the local society’s expectations. Paul’s reason for this advice was missional. He wanted to reach the Corinthian society, so he urged the believers to conform to that society’s rules as much as possible.

Paul was not sanctifying that culture’s rules. He wanted to reach Corinth, so he encouraged the church to meet it half-way. But Paul had in mind a church which would eventually transcend its local culture. That is why he encouraged those wives to be discipled by their husbands at home. They were definitely not to remain silent there. A person is discipled so that she can make other disciples. That involves speaking and teaching. So, Paul actually encouraged wives to speak. He just wanted them to avoid speaking out in the public assembly, because that was not appropriate where they lived.

Unfortunately, vast numbers of Christians today — even whole denominations — have adopted first century Corinth’s rules for their worship services. Paul never intended such a thing. That is what Paul would find truly disgracefgul today, because it makes the church do just the opposite of what Paul was advising. It makes the church adopt a foreign culture which embarasses their society and prevents people from being open to the gospel.

LORD, may our public worship services be about your grace, instead of causing public disgrace.

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About Jefferson Vann

Jeff is a Christian missionary and church elder.
This entry was posted in church, consideration of others, discipleship, traditions, worship and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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