An Exegetical Study of 1 Corinthians 14:33b-38, 1Timothy 2:11-12 and 1Corinthians 11:3-5
In Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth and also in his letter to Timothy, Paul addresses the issues of orderliness in worshipping assemblies and women’s participation in these assemblies.
In 1Corinthians 11, Paul speaks of the order of relationship that should exist between men and women. In this section, he gives instruction as to the correct manner in which men and women are to publicly pray and prophesy. Whether women are obliged to physically cover their heads whilst they pray or prophesy, or whether their hair is that covering, is a contentious subject. In both cases, the intention of the act is clear: women are to act in a submissive manner toward men in the worshipping assemblies.
1 Corinthians 11:3 - 5
3 But I want you to know that the head [kefalh kephale from the primary kapto (in the sense of seizing); 1) the head, both of men and often of animals. Since the loss of the head destroys life, this word is used in the phrases relating to capital and extreme punishment. 2) metaph. anything supreme, chief, prominent 2a) of persons, master lord: of a husband in relation to his wife 2b) of Christ: the Lord of the husband and of the Church 2c) of things: the corner stone] of every man [anhr aner 1) with reference to sex 1a) of a male 1b) of a husband 1c) of a betrothed or future husband 2) with reference to age, and to distinguish an adult man from a boy 3) any male 4) used generically of a group of both men and women] is Christ, the head [kefalh kephale] of woman [gunh gune 1) a woman of any age, whether a virgin, or married, or a widow 2) a wife 2a) of a betrothed woman] is man [anhr aner], and the head [kefalh kephale] of Christ is God.
4 Every man [anhr aner] praying [proseucomai proseuchomai 1) to offer prayers, to pray] or prophesying [profhteuw propheteuo 1) to prophesy, to be a prophet, speak forth by divine inspirations, to predict 1a) to prophesy 1b) with the idea of foretelling future events pertaining esp. to the kingdom of God 1c) to utter forth, declare, a thing which can only be known by divine revelation 1d) to break forth under sudden impulse in lofty discourse or praise of the divine counsels 1d1) under like prompting, to teach, refute, reprove, admonish, comfort others 1e) to act as a prophet, discharge the prophetic office], having his head [kefalh kephale] covered [kata kata 1) down from, through out 2) according to, toward, along], dishonors [kataiscunw kataischuno 1) to dishonour, disgrace 2) to put to shame, make ashamed 2a) to be ashamed, blush with shame 2b) one is said to be put to shame who suffers a repulse, or whom some hope has deceived] his head [kefalh kephale].
5 But every woman [gunh gune] who prays [proseucomai proseuchomai] with her head [kefalh kephale] uncovered [akatakaluptov akatakaluptos 1) not covered, unveiled] dishonors [kataiscunw kataischuno 1) to dishonour, disgrace 2) to put to shame, make ashamed 2a) to be ashamed, blush with shame 2b) one is said to be put to shame who suffers a repulse, or whom some hope has deceived] her head [kefalh kephale], for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved [xuraw xurao 1) to shear, shave 2) to get one’s self shaved].
The context of this passage indicates that Paul was referring to congregational meetings and not ad hoc social gatherings of believers. This can be understood from 1Corinthains 11:18 where the phrase “when you come together as a church” is employed. Since instruction is given in this passage as to the manner in which women are to pray and prophesy, it is evident Paul thought that women were permitted to pray and prophesy in these congregational meetings. The related contextual understandings give clear instruction as to the manner in which these prayers and prophesies are to be delivered – in an attitude of submission and deference to those men in authority in the assembly.
The Corinthian Christians had apparently asked Paul about spiritual gifts and their employment. He does not give any indication that the Corinthians had been experiencing any difficulty in their assemblies with regard to women speaking in any inappropriate manner. The apostle describes the nature and purpose of certain spiritual gifts, points to the benefits which the loving use of these gifts brings to the congregation, and urges the exercise of these endowments in the course of the congregation's public worship, especially the gift of prophesy. Paul also provides instructions for the God-pleasing, orderly conduct of believers who have assembled together for worship when some of those in attendance will use their special spiritual gifts.
In the midst of Paul’s instructions for the orderly assembling of the saints, he adds a word about an aspect of the conduct of Christian women during these assembly times. He gives the instruction that during these times, women are to be “silent” and to refrain from asking questions during the worship service.
1Corinthians 14:33b - 38
33b … as in all [pav pas 1) individually 1a) each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything 2) collectively 2a) some of all types] the worshipping assemblies [ekklhsia ekklesia 1) a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assembly 1a) an assembly of the people convened at the public place of the council for the purpose of deliberating 1b) the assembly of the Israelites 1c) any gathering or throng of men assembled by chance, tumultuously 1d) in a Christian sense 1d1) an assembly of Christians gathered for worship in a religious meeting 1d2) a company of Christians, or of those who, hoping for eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, observe their own religious rites, hold their own religious meetings, and manage their own affairs, according to regulations prescribed for the body for order’s sake 1d3) those who anywhere, in a city, village, constitute such a company and are united into one body 1d4) the whole body of Christians scattered throughout the earth 1d5) the assembly of faithful Christians already dead and received into heaven] of the saints [agiov hagios from hagos (an awful thing) Holy, characteristic of God, separated to God, worthy of veneration 1) Its highest application is to God himself, in his purity, majesty and glory. 1a) Of things and places which have a claim to reverence as sacred to God, e.g. the Temple. 1b) Of persons employed by him, as angels, prophets, apostles. 2) Applied to persons as separated to God’s service: 2a) Of Christ. 2b) Of Christians. 3) In the moral sense of sharing God’s purity. 4) Of pure, clean sacrifices and offerings.].
34 Let your women [gunh gune 1) a woman of any age, whether a virgin, or married, or a widow 2) a wife 2a) of a betrothed woman] keep silent [sigaw sigao 1) to keep silence, hold one’s peace 2) to be kept in silence, be concealed] in the worshipping assemblies [ekklhsia ekklesia], for they are not permitted [epitrepw epitrepo 1) to turn to, transfer, commit, instruct 2) to permit, allow, give leave] to speak [lalew laleo 1) to utter a voice or emit a sound 2) to speak 2a) to use the tongue or the faculty of speech 2b) to utter articulate sounds 3) to talk 4) to utter, tell 5) to use words in order to declare one’s mind and disclose one’s thoughts 5a) to speak]; but [alla alla 1) but 1a) nevertheless, notwithstanding 1b) an objection 1c) an exception 1d) a restriction 1e) nay, rather, yea, moreover 1f) forms a transition to the cardinal matter] they are to be submissive [upotassw hupotasso 1) to arrange under, to subordinate 2) to subject, put in subjection 3) to subject one’s self, obey 4) to submit to one’s control 5) to yield to one’s admonition or advice 6) to obey, be subject. A Greek military term meaning “to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader”. In non-military use, it was “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden”], as the law [nomov nomos 1) anything established, anything received by usage, a custom, a law, a command 1a) of any law whatsoever 1a1) a law or rule producing a state approved of God 1ai by the observance of which is approved of God 1aii a precept or injunction 1aiii the rule of action prescribed by reason 1b) of the Mosaic law, and referring, acc. to the context. either to the volume of the law or to its contents 1c) the Christian religion: the law demanding faith, the moral instruction given by Christ, esp. the precept concerning love 1d) the name of the more important part (the Pentateuch), is put for the entire collection of the sacred books of the OT ] also says [legw lego 1) to say, to speak 1a) affirm over, maintain 1b) to teach 1c) to exhort, advise, to command, direct 1d) to point out with words, intend, mean, mean to say 1e) to call by name, to call, name 1f) to speak out, speak of, mention].
35 And if they want [yelw thelo 1) to will, have in mind, intend 1a) to be resolved or determined, to purpose 1b) to desire, to wish 1c) to love 1c1) to like to do a thing, be fond of doing 1d) to take delight in, have pleasure] to learn [manyanw manthano 1) to learn, be appraised 1a) to increase one’s knowledge, to be increased in knowledge 1b) to hear, be informed 1c) to learn by use and practice 1ci to be in the habit of, accustomed to] something [tiv tis 1) a certain, a certain one 2) some, some time, a while], let them ask [eperwtaw eperotao 1) to accost one with an enquiry, put a question to, enquiry of, ask, interrogate 2) to address one with a request or demand 2a) to ask of or demand of one] their own husbands [anhr aner 1) with reference to sex 1a) of a male 1b) of a husband 1c) of a betrothed or future husband 2) with reference to age, and to distinguish an adult man from a boy 3) any male 4) used generically of a group of both men and women] at home; for it is shameful [aiskron aischron 1) shame, base, dishonourable] for women [gunh gune ] to speak [lalew laleo] in worshipping assemblies [ekklhsia ekklesia].
36 Or did the word of God come originally from you? Or was it you only that it reached?
37 If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.
38 But if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant.
It is clear that Paul’s instruction required the silence of women. What is not so immediately apparent is what he meant by this. On the surface is would appear that women are not permitted to speak during the assemblies of the saints.
Paul begins 1Corinthians 14:33-38 with the words, Hoos en pasais tais ekkleesiais toon hagioon . Some versions render ekkleesiais in this phrase as the word “churches”. A better translation could be “worshipping assemblies”. Ekkleesia comes from the adjective ekkleetos, meaning “called out”. In its ordinary Greek usage it refers to a gathering of citizens in a town or city called out from their homes into some public place, a lawful assembly of citizens. Compare the use of ekkleesia in Acts 19:39 as designating an assembly convened for the sake of deliberating and deciding an issue. In the Septuagint ekkleesia is used often as an equivalent to the Hebrew qahal, the assembly of the Israelites, especially when gathered for sacred purposes. In a Christian sense, the word refers to a local congregation of believers as in 1Corinthians 14:23, which speaks of the (local) ekkleesia coming together in one place for worship; or to the activity during which those assembled are worshipping, as in 1Corinthians 14:19 and 35. Here the reference is to what is occurring during the time of assembling together. It would be reasonable to render ekkleesia as “worshipping assemblies” in this portion of scripture as this sense is clearly discerned from the context. Though ekkleesia here can be translated in its plural form, as “churches” or “worshipping assemblies”, but it is to be understood as being in a local sense.
In the phrase “as is the case, or practice, in all these worshipping assemblies”, Paul wishes to indicate that in giving directives to the Corinthians with reference to the silence of women in their worshipping assemblies he is urging upon them the practice which is predominant in the worship services of all the congregations of Christendom at that time. There is no clear indication in Scripture that the church at Corinth was being singled out due to some peculiar error as a congregation so that they alone ought to observe these requirements concerning women at worship. Claims that the Corinthian assemblies were in error in the area of participation women by during worship are based upon extra-Biblical sources along rather than from clear Scriptural evidence.
Paul writes, hai gunaikes en tais ekkleesiais sigatoosan “let your women keep silent in the worshipping assemblies”. This article tais could be permissibly rendered “your” inasmuch as tais is frequently used as a possessive pronoun in Greek literature. This could signal a desire for conformity of the Corinthian worshipping assemblies to the practices of other worshipping assemblies. Paul was indicating that the Corinthian women ought to be “silent” as they are in other worshipping assemblies.
Hai gunaikes signifies women of any age, especially adult females, whether unmarried, married, or widowed. Gunee may also be translated “wife” in certain contexts (compare the plural gunaikes signifying “wives” in Ephesians 5:22) but not here, there being no preparation for this restriction in Paul's argument up to this point. It can be seen that women in general are referred to here and not wives only can be seen by considering 1Timothy 2:11-12. In these verses Paul offers instruction similar to those of 1Corinthians 14:34. In 1Timothy 2:11-12gunee appears together with aneer, which indicates any man. It stands to reason that gunee similarly refers to any woman and not only to wives.
1Timothy 2:11 - 12
11 Let [manyanw manthano prolongation 1) to learn, be appraised 1a) to increase one’s knowledge, to be increased in knowledge 1b) to hear, be informed 1c) to learn by use and practice 1c1) to be in the habit of, accustomed to] a woman [gunh gune 1) a woman of any age, whether a virgin, or married, or a widow 2) a wife 2a) of a betrothed woman] learn [manyanw manthano
1) to learn, be appraised 1a) to increase one’s knowledge, to be increased in knowledge 1b) to hear, be informed 1c) to learn by use and practice 1c1) to be in the habit of, accustomed to] in silence [hsucia hesuchia 1) quietness 1a) description of the life of one who stays at home doing his own work, and does not officiously meddle with the affairs of others 2) silence] with all [pav pas 1) individually 1a) each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything 2) collectively 2a) some of all types] submission [upotagh hupotage 1) the act of subjecting 2) obedience, subjection].
12 And I do not [ou ou also ouk ouk and ouc ouch 1) no, not; in direct questions expecting an affirmative answer] permit [epitrepw epitrepo 1) to turn to, transfer, commit, instruct 2) to permit, allow, give leave] a woman [gunh gune] to teach [didaskw didasko 1) to teach 1a) to hold discourse with others in order to instruct them, deliver didactic discourses 1b) to be a teacher 1c) to discharge the office of a teacher, conduct one’s self as a teacher 2) to teach one 2a) to impart instruction 2b) instill doctrine into one 2c) the thing taught or enjoined 2d) to explain or expound a thing 2f) to teach one something] or to have authority [auyentew authenteo 1) one who with his own hands kills another or himself 2) one who acts on his own authority, autocratic 3) an absolute master 4) to govern, exercise dominion over one] over a man [anhr aner 1) with reference to sex 1a) of a male 1b) of a husband 1c) of a betrothed or future husband 2) with reference to age, and to distinguish an adult man from a boy 3) any male 4) used generically of a group of both men and women], but to be in silence [hsucia hesuchia].
This passage indicates clearly that the appropriate order of relationship between men and women echoes that of Genesis; women are to participate with a submissive attitude toward those men in authority. Women are not to be given nor take opportunity to teach and exercise authority over any of the men. The Genesis account describes God’s judgment upon mankind in response to Adam and Eve’s sin; men are to have dominion over women. 1Timothy 2:13 and 14 indicate that Paul connects this order to God’s primary of creation man ahead of woman and the fact that it was Eve who was deceived and not Adam. He implies that these reasons give ground and support for the understanding that man is to be head over women and women are not to have authority over men and therefore they are not to teach men.
In both of these passages, Paul indicates that women are to be “silent” in worshipping assemblies. What precisely does he mean? Is this “silence” to be taken in an absolute sense, so as to signify that women may not join vocally in liturgical response, confession of faith, prayer, and song during worship? Or, if not, in what way should this command be understood?
The word that he uses for “silent” in 1Corinthinas 14:34 is sigaw sigao. In 1Timothy 2:11 Paul uses a different yet synonymous word: hsucia hesuchia . The first thing that may be pointed out is that in various other New Testament texts in which a form of the verb sigao appears, total or sustained silence is not implied. This is also true for the verb hesuchia. In many of these passages, the contexts in which these Greek words are used signify a period of time during which there was a cessation from talking, a silence, so that the hearer would be able to apprehend what is being said. Acts 12:27 is an example of this. Peter had been miraculously released from prison and had appeared unexpectedly amongst the disciples. Peter raised his hand and called for everyone present to be silent. This silence was to enable Peter to speak so as to be heard.
In some other passages, sigao and hesuchia do not signify physical silence at all, except in relation to certain things. An example of this is Luke 9:36 where Peter and John witness Jesus’ transfiguration. Following their experience, Peter and John reportedly kept quiet about what they had seen and heard. Clearly, they did not cease from talking as Zacharias did. Peter and John’s silence was only in relation to what they had witnessed on that mountain. 1Corinthians 14:28 describes Paul’s instruction regarding tongues messages when there is nobody present with a gift of interpretation of tongues. He says that any person with a tongues message in such cases is “keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God.” Obviously, the silence here is in direct relation to uttering a message in tongues since he is told to speak (lalew laleo) to use words in order to declare one’s mind and disclose one’s thoughts 5a) to speak) to God and himself instead. In like manner, 1Corinthians 14:29 says: propheetai de duo ee treis laleitoosan, “let two or three prophets speak” in the course of the worship service, and let others possessed with the gifts of prophecy and discernment attest the truth of what each prophet sequentially utters. Paul adds in verse 30 that, if one prophet is speaking and something is revealed to another then ho prootos sigatoo, “let the first one keep silent.” In this way the prophets can declare their messages in turn, and each edify the church. We see in these passages that the verb laleoo surely signifies special types of speaking in the worship service - in tongues or in prophecy - and that these kinds of speaking are placed in contrast to the opposite of each, namely, keeping silent which is designated a form of the verb sigaoo.
In addition to the meanings given above, the words rendered as “silence” in English can also convey a meaning of quietness as apposed to absence of talking. In 2Thessalonians 3:12 Paul commands that those who do not work are to “work in quietness (hsucia hesuchia) and eat their own bread.” Once again, it is obvious that these people were not condemned to live mute lives, never speaking.
Study shows that these words are used in a similar manner in numerous contexts when Jesus or an apostle or another Christian was communicating the word of God to a company of persons. Nothing is implied as to the hearers' total silence throughout the duration of their contact with the one who was communicating with them on these occasions . Their silence is such that they and others are able to hear that which is being communicated and is not disruptive.
In Paul's day, as in our day, it would have been expected that persons in attendance at worshipping assemblies would keep silence at certain times, for example, when the word of God was read or preached. This would constitute an exercise of consideration and courtesy both for the Word of God and the speaker. It would be most unlikely to assume that women in Paul’s day were silent throughout the duration of the assembling of the saints and did not participate in the worship responses, hymn singing, and offering of prayers vocally during congregational worship. The same thing is true of worshippers in our day.
From the immediate contexts and with reference to other the textual considerations cited above, it can be reasonably inferred that when Paul’s directive to women is that they are not to engage in particular kinds of speaking, for example, in tongues without interpretation or prophecy whilst another is prophesying.
In the 1Corinthians 14 passage, Paul then reaffirms the male/female order by saying of the women: alla hupotassesthoosan, “but they are to be submissive,” suggest in their meaning the idea that the women are to subordinate themselves – a voluntary act. This self-restraint represents and publicly exhibits on their part a subordinating of themselves to the men present at in the assembly. In the parallel passage 1Timothy 2:11-12 the apostle uses the noun hupotagee, as he directs: gunee en heesuchla manthanetoo en pasee hupotagee, “let a woman learn in silence with all submission”; and he adds, didaskeln de gunalki ouk epitrepoo oude authentein andros, alla einai en heesuchia, “I do not permit [turn over to, or allow] a woman to teach or to have authority over a man.” Here the authentein is to be regarded as explanatory of what manner in which the teaching of the word on the part of a woman involves or represents. It is to understood that in the process of any teaching a woman is not to exercise authority over a man – no authority has been given to her whereby she can direct or enforce any understandings or practices of faith. A woman having such an attitude whilst teaching men is opposite to that of subordinating herself to those men gathered at worship.
Paul also states that it is a tenant of the law that the women should assume this state of subordination when he says kathoos kai ho nomos legei, “as the law also says”. He is saying that the charge to women to be “silent” during worship, as a reflection of their subordinating themselves to men present at worship, is not simply his own mandate but is in harmony also with the instruction of ho nomos, “the law”. In the New Testament, as here and at other at times, the term ho nomos applies refers to the whole of the first five books of the Old Testament, the Pentateuch.
The apostle provides additional information as to the law's instruction pertaining to the relation of the sexes to each other in 1Corinthians 11. After stating in verse 3, “1 want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God,” he writes in verses 8-9: “For man [and the reference here is to Adam] is not from woman [Eve], but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man.” Summing up we may say: In creating the first man and the first woman God thought it would be wise and beneficial for their relationship (which happened also to be that of husband and wife) to have man be head over the woman, with the woman be subordinate to the man. This arrangement also became God’s permanent will concerning the relationship of all males and females living in future times and generations since creation. This relationship is expressed throughout the Scriptures. It is not a matter affected by societal differences in the course of history, by changing customs or human ways of thinking about the relationship between the sexes.
This order in no way implies any hierarchy of worth or importance or standing of man in the sight of God between men and women. Men and women are on an absolute par in the matter of spiritual standing or worth in the sight of God, as Paul makes clear, for example, in Galatians 3:26-28, when he writes: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 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.”
In line with this understanding, man in his headship is not to domineer woman or treat her as inferior; neither is woman to feel inferior to man due to her subordinate position. The head, in this biblical understanding, is that which determines, that which begins, and that which leads, and thus that which exercises rule, as the physical head functions in relation to the physical body. A man functions as head over to a woman in the assembly when, for example, he teaches the word and in the process exercises authority over the hearers, including women present; or when he takes the leadership in bring correction or rebuke where that may be necessary. A married man provides similar leadership in the home, as “head” of wife and family. A woman's voluntary submission to man as head includes her renunciation of any desire to rule over her husband in favour of his leadership.
The Lord Jesus Christ exercised His headship over His body, the church, not by dominating the church, but by lovingly serving it and giving His life for it. Through His instruction and the supply of the Holy Spirit, He further heads the church by guiding her into the pathways of obedience to God's will and consequently to spiritual cleansing and conformity to His own image so that He can present her to Himself as a spotless bride. In the same way men ought to exercise their headship with respect to women in the church generally, doing all in their power to promote the physical and spiritual welfare of female members of the body of Christ. Christian women should gladly live in a manner that shows their submissive relationship to men for the Lord's sake, honouring God's will in this matter just as they seek to carry out all other directions He gives them for His glorification and their well being. The more love and commitment to the interest of others are present in the relationship of the man to the woman, the more this submissive relationship conforms to the Scriptural ideal.
In of 1Corinthians 14:35, Paul indicates that the Genesis account with respect to the order of Adam and Eve’s relationship has relevance to the relationships of males and females in all future generations; the submission of women to men is a permanent order of relationship and is to be observed in all Christian assemblies throughout the New Testament era. Any act on the part of women today which sets this relationship aside is a violation of “the law,” and therefore is a violation of the will of God as stated in His word. Some people attempt to claim that these ideas of submission were applicable only in Paul’s time and age and culture which assigned a different position to woman than is applicable in our day and age. There is nothing written in scripture to support the notion that God’s ideal for the order of male and female relationship has changed. Any alteration to God’s appointed order has, therefore, been done by man and not by God. The claim that the sexes are equal collides with the simple fact that God did not make them equal, and man cannot alter this. Whatever is permitted for women to be engaged in within a worshipping assembly must not conflict with the directives of the whole counsel of the word of God.
It may be surmised that in the course of early Christian worshipping assemblies opportunities were offered for those present to ask questions relating to understandings of the word of God, or about other matters pertaining to assembly life. It is likely that this prerogative was reserved for the men present. Some of the women may have desired the privilege of asking questions as the men did. Paul speaks of the matter and counsels against the practice. Women were not to speak in this manner at public worship. Paul reasons that women were not to be permitted to ask questions and teach in the worshipping assemblies, for in so doing they would exercise authority over men and leave their subordinate position. These activities would put women on a par with men; and in this way they would not give public demonstration of their subordinate position in relation to men and of their acceptance of this status.
There is justification for translating andras as “menfolk” and not “husbands” is simply that, as has already been pointed out, there is nothing in the context of the apostle's instruction here to indicate a limitation to husbands. Men, males, menfolk, as opposed to women, females, womenfolk are those to whom Paul is referring. The apostle conceives of the Corinthian congregation as consisting of families having husbands, fathers, sons, or other male relatives of the women, who would also attend worship services. Let the women ask their questions of them in the home; and presumably, if the latter would be unable to give the requested responses, the women could bring the questions to the expounder of the word or the congregational leadership privately and have them answered. The apostle is expressing a principle here. He therefore does not take into consideration the exceptional case of a lone woman who has no male relatives living with her. In such a situation the opportunity would likewise be there for such a woman privately to present her questions to the church leadership or other male acquaintance.
The violation of any of Paul’s directives, including these concerning women, is a serious matter. Paul adds: aischron gar estin gunaiki lalein en ekkleesia, “for it is shameful for women to speak in worshipping assemblies.” Here, the meaning of “to speak” is intended to be confined to the context as previously discussed. Her shame is fundamentally before God, who has clearly expressed His will in His Word, any violation of which is indeed a shameful thing. Hers is the shame also before genuine Christians, who seek to do the divine will in their lives and desire to have it carried out in the Christian congregation.
The word aischron derives from aischos, meaning “baseness,” “disgrace”; the adjective, accordingly, has the meanings of “base,” “shameful,” “ugly,” and “dishonorable.” In other contexts Paul says, for example, that it is shameful for a woman to be shorn, having her hair cropped closely to the scalp, or shaven bald (1Corinthians 11:6). With reference to the sexual filth and perversion of his day, he writes in Ephesians 5:12, “It is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret”. Earlier in the same chapter, he refers to the aischrotees, “baseness,” which is the abstract for the concrete word aischrologia, “obscene speech,” from which Christians are to abstain. In Titus 1:11 he refers to mind-deceiving false teachers who subvert whole households for the sake of shameful gain. These usages give a clear idea of the intensity of the shamefulness which the aischron family of words convey.
In conclusion, Paul’s instructions can be summarised as follows:
1. Women are to behave in a submissive manner during worshipping assemblies.
2. Women are to be silent in the following manner:
a. Not speaking out any tongues message where there is no interpreter;
b. Ceasing to speak out a prophetic message when another prophet has been given a message;
c. Asking questions in an interruptive sense;
d. Allowing others to speak without interruption.
3. Women are not to have authority over men.
4. Women are not to teach men with any authority.
5. It is shameful for a woman to behave contrary to these directives.
6. By implication, women are free to speak in ways that do not contradict the above directives, for example:
a. Sharing testimony;
b. Answering directed questions;
c. Worshipping the Lord in song;
So then, Paul’s intention in these passages appears to be to convey the Lord's commandment with application to the regulation of procedures at first-century Corinthian public congregational worship. His overarching purpose is to ensure that worshipping assemblies share community together in love where each is encouraged to grow in Christ and serve one another in an appropriate and Scriptural manner. Those who fear and love the Lord in worshipping assemblies today will seek to observe His will in this matter as in all others.
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